By CHELSEA FLEISCHMAN
Over half of Allegheny’s student body got involved in community service last semester to exceed ACCEL’s projected goal by about 10,000 hours.
The total of 25,000 hours last semester nearly fulfilled ACCEL’s projected year-long goal of 30,000 hours.
Although ACCEL hasn’t been able to accurately record service hours for each year in the past, they documented hours for nearly every club, organization, and individual on campus, while also keeping the statistics unduplicated—and they’ve never had so many hours documented in a single semester.
Director of Community Service and Service Learning Dave Roncolato believes there are several reasons for the increase including the 346 students who reported doing service on a weekly basis for the fall semester.
He also credits the quality of students that come to Allegheny.
“Students here are generally willing to give themselves,” said Roncolato. “They come with the expectation that the types of involvement they had in high school will continue when they get here.”
This principle is the basis for ACCEL’s Community Service and Service Learning department because their provided opportunities grow out of student interest.
“Two decades ago, we were thrilled that we had a few students going out, getting involved, and now it’s a matter of keeping up with the students and their interests in service,” Roncolato added.
The increase in student service involvement is rooted in a ripple effect of networking and socialization.
“The reason someone gets involved is because someone else asked,” he said. “Our whole system is based on students asking students.”
It’s not only beneficial to the student, but Bonner Scholar Nick Christensen, ’13, points out that it’s a contribution to the community.
“I think there’s definitely a direct correlation between community growth and the college’s growth,” he said.
There are a total of 76 service leaders on campus—10 Davies Leaders, 12 Allegheny Volunteer Service Leaders, and 54 Bonners. In addition to a large number of yearly required service hours, these leaders must also mobilize other volunteers.
Despite the increase in service activity, Roncolato said there’s still room for growth.
“I’m pleased but not satisfied,” he said. “A lot of students appreciate and learn from what they give to the community, but there’s still a number of students that tend to avoid getting involved.”
Elena Juodisius, ’13, an ASB Leader for the trip to Wheeling, West Virginia suggested that those who struggle to get involved because of the time commitment consider Service Saturdays, which only last for a few hours.
“Service can be a really great experience,” she said. “Even if you feel like it’s just taking time away from your busy schedule, it’s probably worth it.”
Roncolato advises that students who are struggling to get involved first look into what interests them most and then find the service opportunity it connects with.
“Don’t be afraid to put your pinky in,” he said. “We accept the people who are only willing to put their pinky in.”