Last Friday’s Editorial “Season’s Givings” was well intentioned, but was based on a very narrow conception of service. Notably, it asserted that the Student Activities Commission “needs to mandate that all student groups that receive funding for events allocate a certain percentage to put on community service functions.”
Georgetown’s Center for Social Justice is among the best in the country, and we are fervent supporters of community service. At the same time, student groups play a fundamental role in fostering community on campus. Large SAC groups like the International Relations Club and the College Democrats bring in prominent speakers and organize events that serve as platforms for hundreds of students to explore their shared interests together. Likewise, the numerous SAC cultural groups celebrate the wide-ranging diversity of Georgetown, which is most evident at the annual International Week in April.
While the editorial recognizes the importance of student group autonomy, it claims “community service should be an initiative that trumps the value of club independence.” There are institutional constraints on how SAC can support community service directly. A large portion of SAC’s budget comes from the Student Activities Fee, and this money cannot be used for outright charitable donations or purchases.
Even if student groups are given the freedom to choose a designated cause, it may be a stretch for some groups to put on community service events that are closely related to their mission. As such, the editorial board’s proposed requirement unnecessarily curtails organic student programming and contains a value judgment that we are distinctly uncomfortable with.
When striving to be men and women for others, let us look to within the Hilltop as well.
Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14)
Chair, Student Activities Commission
Shuo Yan Tan (SFS ’12)
Chair, Student Life Report Committee