Letters: Campus Service

When I came back from studying abroad this fall, I was pleasantly surprised to see how involved in community service the first year class is, to find Lindsay Hayes charming and unbelievably helpful as a community service faculty liaison and to see that during this semester more people have proposed new service projects than in the last three years combined. There is some momentum building to expand community service opportunities on campus. As a member of the Lehman Community Service Board, I was thrilled with these developments, but I realized that a key aspect of community service on this campus is missing. While we are effective at getting a few hundred dedicated students incredibly involved, we are not effective at creating a sense of community among these people or making these dedicated students feel like they are part of something bigger.

With these things in mind, the Board decided one of its goals should be to make our presence on campus more widely known and to make community service a more integral part of campus life. We are trying to figure out ways to target the larger part of campus that needs a kick in the butt to do something. When we tried to plan out this year’s benefit concert, we brainstormed less-thought-of ways to do community service.

This semester, I started tutoring at Conte Middle School in North Adams. When I went on a tour the first day, I thought the walls were caving in on me, and maybe they actually will in the next five years if the condition of the school keeps deteriorating. While I can’t create a vivid picture in so few words, believe me, the oppressiveness of the school is very real. I immediately thought any money raised for this school would make a noticeable difference.

So the Board and I decided to walk on some thin ice. What’s the most effective way to attract a large number of people to an event at Williams College? Throw an all-campus party next Thursday with a band (Papa’s Delicate Condition) and other things. . . I’m the first to admit this idea is a little sketchy to a person with traditional views of what community service is. To them I say: I feel passionate about this cause, this school and these children. I want to increase awareness as much as possible. I want to get the biggest turnout possible.

This concert has caused a bit of a stir among the administration and it may give me an ulcer from constant worry because it could turn out to be a complete flop. But even if it is, I know I generated a lot of talk and discussion about what community service should and shouldn’t be, and that just might have to be the measure of success for a risky event like this.

So come on Thursday to see a great band, hang out with friends and support a great cause.

Allison Dymnicki ’04