For those who don’t know what LUCAP is, it’s the Loyola University Community Action Program. It’s the largest student-run organization on campus with its central focus on the Jesuit ideal of commitment to service.
As the chair of LUCAP, I get to oversee projects that truly make a difference beyond just the Loyola community and I absolutely love every minute of it.
Lately though, I have been seeing a different type of trend with some volunteers that want to work with LUCAP. They are not coming to do service because they enjoy being part of building a community. Instead they come for three words – mandatory community service. Those are probably the worst words I hear when someone comes in asking if they can volunteer.
Every time I hear those words, it’s as if a piece of my soul dies. Why, do you ask, by the time my Loyola career will be over, will I not have a soul? Simple: because you’re not volunteering to make a difference, you’re volunteering because you got caught doing something that you should not have been doing.
But that’s not the injustice that I see here. Its the fact that institutions like courts and disciplinary committees that we have at Loyola see direct community service as a punishment.
I enjoy waking up at 6:30 a.m. to be volunteering at 7 a.m. because I get to be part of building a community that is beyond the streets of Calhoun Street, Freret Street, St. Charles Avenue and West Road Garage.
I do not think of actively participating in community service as a punishment and for those who do, maybe it’s time to reassess.
To the institutions that give out community service for punishment, I ask you – challenge you – to show the proof that a person will not commit the same crime.
Show me the educational value of doing service for punishment.
Besides that, on those few Saturday mornings when I volunteer with LUCAP to, say, build a home, I want to be working with other like-minded students, volunteering for the sake of helping instead of those who fear either being fined or, in the case of Loyola students, parents finding out.
Individuals within LUCAP build relationships with our community partners over time based on mutual respect and that respect is compromised when LUCAP brings volunteers that are only invested to get a piece of paper signed off that states they did “service.”
I ask individuals and institutions that give out community service as a punishment to respect individuals like myself who do community service because we truly want to make a difference.
As for Loyola, if you continue to give out community service punishments, I ask that you find partners to build relationships with instead of using LUCAP’s.
To the students that get slapped with these “punishments,” once you’re done doing your mandatory community service hours – yes, my soul did die just a bit – come and volunteer with LUCAP to build on our Jesuit value of commitment to service because you want to – not because you have to.
Political science and women’s studies senior