Serving Pullman off-campus


WSU students sort tiles and broken plates for a mosaic at The Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute, Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

Seventy thousand hours of community service are completed by Washington State University students during the academic school year.

From 2013-2014, 45 percent of those hours were completed by fraternity and sorority members.

As the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) reviews reports for 2014-2015 this week, that high rate of engagement decreases and the greater Pullman community is forced to adjust.

While fraternity and sorority members are not the only volunteers, their lack of activity during the summer takes a toll on CCE partners in need, said Kassi Rolin, the CCE’s student engagement coordinator.

“During the academic school year we have between 25 and 30 projects every week,” she said. “During the summer we have about 4.”

Kyle Geiger, ASWSU’s vice president, has recognized this decrease through his service as the Interfraternity Council’s director of service and philanthropy during the 2013-2014 school year.

“One problem I see with the decline in summer hours has to do with the fact students probably do not know that they count for fall,” he said. “Also, in the summer students just naturally check out regardless if they are Greek or not.”

Before summer of 2014, the CCE did not let seasonal community service hours roll over into fall enrollment for Greek affiliated students. However, that changed as the CCE worked with the IFC and Panhellenic Council to increase student engagement.

“Local organizations rely heavily on volunteers and understand that Greeks can provide this,” Rolin said. “Greek service is very evident. When it decreases, it is noticed.”

As an incentive for Greek community members still living in Pullman during the summer, their service hours benefits future requirements.

This works well, Geiger said, as many remaining members are recruitment chairs for individual Greek chapters. They are required to work over the summer by both the IFC and Panhellenic Council.

However, their focus is primarily recruitment so their project planning is not high on their list of to-dos. The change in service hour attributions helps shift that focus a little bit.

Additionally, that focus is intended to promote unity across all of the greater Pullman community.

“This semester we saw a large increase in fraternities participating joint service events and philanthropic events with other fraternities and sororities,” Zack DiSalvo, the current IFC director of service and philanthropy, said.

The IFC, which raised $50,000 through philanthropic events last semester, has suggested that their recent #WSUnity campaign will positively impact this service within the greater Pullman community as they organize more events that expand outside of Greek life.

Outside of fraternity and sorority life, other student involvement is hindered by a decrease in class organized activities, Rolin said.

Many classes during the academic school year require service as part of the grade, Geiger said. But fewer classes results in less activity.

Rolin and the rest of the CCE work on combating that by reaching out to WSU affiliates they know beyond a shadow of a doubt are active in the community.

“Many students that stay in town are international,” she said. “We work to connect with the international center and other campus departments.”

Outside of this additional outreach, the CCE continues their regular social media activity and interacts with incoming students leaders. They continue to push their vision and mission as a land-grant university organization that seeks to engage faculty and students with their community and environment.

“There is an entire community outside of WSU,” Rolin said. “Anecdotally, when a student volunteers for the first time they seem to have an ‘a-ha’ moment. They realize ‘Wow, there are three senior centers, two humane societies, ten environmental centers, et cetera, in Pullman.’

She believes this kind of activity connects students more with their campus and more with the greater Pullman community because of the knowledge, research, and service involved.

More information about the CCE and ways to become more involved can be found at or by calling their main office at 509.432.1372.