The discontinuation of the Plan for Prominence system for the University’s Greek Life created quite the debate when it was first implemented at the beginning of this semester. It begged the question, is it better to do community service of one’s own accord if it sacrifices a large number of those people who would volunteer?
So far, it seems like the University made a major mistake by stripping many local organizations of hundreds of student volunteers. Though the school may not have directly stopped those students from participating in local community service opportunities, there exists an unfortunate reality that exhibits itself in the lack of motivation of college students.
Organizations such as Head Start, Bucknell Buddies and many local food banks are currently struggling to find volunteers, and the removal of mandatory attendance is clearly the driving force of this. The P4P system clearly worked-–the soaring number of community service hours by students from previous years stands as a vigorous testament to the good it did.
College students tend to prioritize their own needs over the needs of others, so a student might not take the time to volunteer if he or she has had a busy week or has other obligations. By making a basic level of volunteer work mandatory for Greek students, the University is ensuring a solid base of volunteer workers for local causes.
What’s more, it is giving students who would not volunteer otherwise a great chance to learn the benefits of volunteer work–-who knows, maybe it will inspire them to do more in the future.
By eliminating such an integral part of the Greek experience, the University has sacrificed results for nobility. Even though it is much more meaningful gesture when a student volunteers of his or her own accord, less fortunate community members suffer from a smaller volunteer work force.
In theory, the cancellation of P4P may have seemed like a good way to create “real” volunteer opportunities for students, meaning that they wouldn’t be mandatory empty gestures. However, the end result has been indifference on behalf of students and suffering on behalf of those who really need help.
In an ideal world, the blame for the lack of current volunteer numbers would fall on the students who do not sign up. In reality, though, change at this school cannot come from influencing individuals to do the right thing; it must come via institutional action. P4P, or some equivalent system, must be reestablished for the local community’s sake.