Require community service for students

Helping others can benefit not only those you serve, but also your personal university experience


JONI COBARRUBIAS | Evergreen Photo Illustration

Mandatory community service would not only better the neighborhoods and city that students live in, it would also improve their outlook and what they value.

LUKE HUDSON, Evergreen columnist

Humans are born selfish creatures, and students can be among the worst of them. It is in our nature to seek wealth, power, love and to fulfill the desires that bring us happiness.

We cannot change the vigor of our pursuit, but we can change that which pleases us. This ability to decide what makes us happy is a fundamental aspect of who we are as imperfect beings; this choice is also what gives us the capacity for courage and selfless devotion.

While we may be born selfish, it is in the nature of righteous people to care for one another. Some would argue that people of modern generations do not love one another as those of the past did so fiercely. If this accusation were more accurate it would claim that most people have a difficult time feeling kinship with strangers.

But empathy is what keeps us from the pits of barbarism, as Charles Chaplin said in “The Great Dictator,” “We want to live by each other’s happiness — not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another.”

This is why WSU should require mandatory community service hours for all students to complete while they’re here. Making serving others a requirement would help students make a change in our community.

“If we could help out in any way possible, I agree, I think everybody should do community service,” sophomore communication major Haley Nagy said.

This dream of lifting others up can only stay alive if the good people of the world keep acting to preserve it. Students make up a large portion of the country and certainly a majority in Pullman. With a concerted effort, the students of WSU can have a lasting impact on the community where they will spend four or more years pursuing a degree. During that time, students ought to also pursue an experience serving the citizens of their home-away-from-home.

According to the Center for Civic Engagement, 45 percent of all community service hours come from students who are a part of the Greek system at WSU. That means that around one-fourth of all WSU students are doing half the work. This is unacceptable.

“Service provides WSU students many opportunities,” said Sammy Perone, a faculty fellow with the CCE, “including a positive impact on the communities living on the Palouse and an understanding of the role they play in creating change.”

All citizens of Pullman, even if they stay here only four years, have a responsibility to leave this place better than they found it. That is the only prerogative that can measure the worth of one’s life. Whether a person’s presence in the world was a net positive.

Serving each other for a few hours is a small price to pay for the chance to lift one another up in Pullman.

“Service has an immediate and lasting impact on the world,” Perone said. “It’s a great way to leave your mark.”

If all that people can control is what makes them happy, then service ought to be among the most important.

As philosopher Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Don’t be caught on the sidelines of change.