Neighboring Community Gets Served, Kind of

By Brook McGinnis

On Jan. 28 the sun rose upon a normal Saturday on the Saint Leo University campus, but this was no ordinary day, this was Community Service Day.

This year marked the 14th  year of Community Service Day on campus, a time for the Saint Leo population to give back to its community.This Saturday would see a modest turnout as compared to past years; could this be because a lack of desire of service from the Saint Leo community or could there be competing interests with Gasparilla and the Kumquat Festival?  Both of which were scheduled for the same day this year.

There is no clear answer, but Paige Ramsey-Hamacher, Associate Director for Multicultural and international Services, and the administration coordinator of Community Service Day for the last 14 years, doesn’t think so.

“The President’s Staff select the date for community service a year in advance,” says Ramsey-Hamacher.
The competing interests coupled with the recent decision to remove the requirement of Introduction to the University Experience or SLU100 students to participate in Community Service Day are the most likely causes for the reduced turnout.  This decision to remove the requirement for community service from SLU100 was an academic decision, according to Ramsey-Hamacher and Jessica Cannon, Vice President of Operations at the Student Government Union (SGU).

With a reduction in turnout, why then continue the Community Service Day? The answer there is simple; one has but to look at the core values of Saint Leo University for the answer.  The second core value at Saint Leo is Community. It is this value of Community that prompts the directive from the Student Government Union to require 25 percent participation from student organizations on campus and 75 percent from the Greek organizations. While the service is compulsory, it is not mandatory that the service be done on Community Service Day; the completion date for this required service is not till February 15, according to Cannon.

Cannon further stated that “The SGU feels it is our responsibility to serve the community and that Community Service Day allows us to tie back to that community practicing our core value of community and responsible stewardship.”

Ramsey-Hamacher expanded upon this notion when she expressed that the purpose of the 25/75 requirement is to “Develop the notion of giving back. While mandatory, the thought is to help instill a sense of giving back.” She even added that it’s a great opportunity for students, faculty and administration to work side by side in an environment that they would never have in the classroom “to develop a sense of community by doing service next to people you might otherwise never meet.”

It is easy to look at Community Service Day and find a way to do something else that day, but as responsible members of the Saint Leo community there needs to be a greater notion to others. Helping the needs of many by volunteering a mere four hours, twice a year, is something that every member of the Pride should consider.

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