The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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Should community service be required to graduate?

Bucknell University does a fantastic job fostering community involvement within the school boundaries, but how about once we cross St. Catherine’s Street? Does Bucknell do enough to promote student engagement in the Lewisburg community?

Sure, Lewisburg benefits from the credit cards we whip out to purchase items and the tabs left open at the end of the night at Bull Run, but how about beyond that?

Higher education has gone back and forth on requiring service hours for graduation. On the one hand, requiring community service promotes the idea that volunteering is a chore and is only completed to “check a box” on graduation requirements. On the other hand, requiring hours encourages the importance of giving back to the community.

Regine Escher ’27 argues that “required community engagement could add significantly to the well-rounded liberal arts education that Bucknell offers. Adding the requirement would encourage students to explore their interests, learn about local issues and organizations and contribute positively to the community surrounding Bucknell.”  

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Jamie Granato ’25 emphasizes that “giving back to the community is beneficial for the community and the people doing it. We are all part of communities, and the more work we put into making it a great place, the more everyone benefits.” 

For the students who are eager to serve, this seems like a no-brainer: getting credit for something they already do. But what about the students who are not so enthused about volunteering their time? Anna Solar ’27 points out that “people that don’t want to [volunteer] are just doing it because they have to and not because they want to create change in their community.”

Requiring service hours to graduate can have a negative connotation that makes people think that you only have to do service hours when forced to by a higher power, in this case, the administration. 

Bucknell University, as a liberal arts college, should be finding ways to incorporate community engagement more than they currently are. One way Bucknell can do this, other than requiring students to complete service hours, is by allowing students to pick an organization to focus their four years of service on and do some project that incorporates that community. 

If requiring hours is the way to go, Bucknell can have students complete the hours in small increments over four years. For example, students would complete 15 hours per year, and 10 would have to be for the same organization each year. This way prevents students from cramming 60 random hours into the spring of their senior year with no “good” meaning. Students are more likely to form bonds with their organization and find meaning in their work besides just trying to check a box. Whether or not Bucknell chooses to require community involvement, my hot take is: yes, community service should be required to graduate. 

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