It is one of the many requirements on the long path to graduation and it is one of the cornerstone achievements that makes Pacific University graduates not only well-rounded, but students who have proved their ability to give back to the community they live in.
Pacific students do a lot of community service.
Every student that graduates is required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of community service either through an academic course or through an approved civic engagement project that serves the common good, according to the Pacific website.
Although 40 hours is the minimum requirement, many students go above and beyond.
Some are even doing 40 hours every semester and are not getting credit. We have some amazing students at this school who dedicate a vast amount of their time giving back to their community and causes they feel passionately about.
With all of the volunteer work our students do, it is still an issue for some to get the Civic Engagement requirement checked off, a problem that ought to be easily fixed.
On the Pacific website, the two options listed to complete this requirement are to either take a class that fulfills the Civic Engagement requirement or to complete a project.
There really is not a system in place that allows students to log the hours they worked for different organizations and have that count.
There needs to be a way to recognize their commitment and have that reflected on a student’s transcript with all of the volunteer work we see students doing.
On the flip side, there are also students who still try to get away with doing as little as possible.
Many, while not all, of the civic engagement courses have very little oversight and this leads to many students fibbing about what they actually did to check off another requirement on the long list to graduation.
The lies students resort to may occur because of a genuine lack of interest in putting in the hours for the class.
But we have also heard stories about how students ran out of time during the surprisingly short 16 weeks that are in one semester, were forced to try and fit an extra 40 hours of community service into already packed schedules.
One of these stories comes from a student (whom asked not to be named) said their fundraising project was unsuccessful because they were not able to receive any donations.
So, in order to pass the class and check of their Civic Engagement requirement, they ended up throwing in their own money to make it look like they were actually successful.
Every program has its issues and we are very supportive of the Civic Engagement program and all of the hard work that is poured into the community, but there are shortcomings, as is common with any program that could be improved to the advantage of the students, staff, faculty and the organizations involved.
A few of the Civic Engagement courses available are travel courses.
Almost all of the students who go on these trips come back with fantastic stories of their experiences and how they were able to help that community.
However, of the students who were unable to go, many feel frustrated that one of the obstacles preventing them from attending was cost.
The opportunities available to students are vast, but are out of reach for those who are on a budget.
Many students spend a large amount of their time here at Pacific doing community service or volunteer work.
If it were made clearer or more readily available, students could do community service for multiple organizations and might be able to see their Civic Engagement requirement as more than just one more thing to check off the list.