Civic Engagement: Student-led groups encourage greater community level involvement

Undergraduate students join forces to lend helping hands and attentive ears through campus projects

Nicolas Stevens

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With the end of the semester just around the corner, more civic engagement projects are cropping up all around campus. These projects range anywhere from beach and river cleanup events, to stress relieving projects, all spearheaded by Pacific University students.

One such project includes that of Daniel Eisen and Ashley Mikulyuk’s “Race, Class and the City.” Veering from the tradition of small group projects, this class decided to create one large, class-wide civic engagement project. 

“We’re making these postcards that basically ask questions like what needs to change at Pacific, and what do we need to do to make the community better,” explained junior Brendan Swogger. “We’re going to take those responses, find common themes and ideas and package those together into a presentation that we’ll present to the board of directors.” These postcards will be handed out by students in their respective classes, around campus and then collected by members of the class.

Another unique project that’s already begun on campus includes an art drive in collaboration with a reentry center — a halfway house specialized in providing assistance to inmates who are nearing release — in nearby Portland. 

“I did an internship with them for a summer and remembered one of the women in charge would really like to hold more art classes for the residents,” said senior Jaya Ananda, who’s leading the project. “It’s something really nice for their residents and good for their overall mental health.” 

An accompanying aspect of this project included a positive affirmations event held on Wednesday, Nov. 6. 

“We all wrote little cards that everyone decorates saying positive things,” said sophomore Killian Lynch, another project group member. These heartfelt affirmations were then sent off to the Northwest Regional Reentry Center. For students who missed the positive affirmation event, the opportunity to contribute has not entirely passed. Yellow boxes placed around campus will continue to serve as donation drop-off sites for art supplies for the near future. 

Students looking to start their own civic engagement projects should head over to the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) on the first floor of Scott Hall. CCE offers numerous resources to aid students in their projects including funding, supplies and further contacts to help expand even the smallest of ideas.

And, it should be noted, interested students don’t have to be enrolled in a civic engagement course to create a project. 

“We welcome everybody’s participation — we’re a nonpartisan center and you don’t have to have experience or be in a civic engagement class to participate,” said Stephanie Stokamer, CCE Director.  

According to Stokamer, October and November are some of the busiest months for the CCE and students alike, so civic-minded Boxers should keep a close watch for on-campus events.

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