The group formerly known as Lehman Council has recently undergone a series of changes and has rebranded itself as Lehman Community Engagement (LCE). LCE was, and still is, the primary student group that organizes community service and engagement. Beyond the name change, the LCE has made adjustments to the scope of its work, narrowing its focus solely to Berkshire County. In addition to this new focus, the LCE has also increased publicity efforts, launching a new website, a flyer campaign and a soon-to-be-implemented weekly calendar listing events in the community.
We at the Record would like to commend the new initiative to make LCE a bigger presence on campus. Many students at the College participated in community service groups in high school and many others value engagement, even if they only participate occasionally. By reasserting its presence on campus, the LCE will serve as a better resource for students who want to get involved but need guidance in how and where to volunteer.
LCE’s choice to narrow its focus to strictly the Berkshires has pros and cons. There are obvious advantages to limiting the types of projects by LCE, the first being that the organization can put more resources and energy into these projects. The College’s student body is a largely untapped resource for service projects in the Berkshires, and having LCE working toward harnessing that energy will benefit both parties: Students gain a better relationship with the community they call home for four years, and the community gains both the relationship and the work power of hundreds of young, energetic college students.
Unfortunately, we also believe that narrowing the scope of service projects leaves a void on campus. With the LCE no longer supporting service projects outside of the Berkshires, there is no point person or place to go to for help organizing service work elsewhere. The new Center for Learning in Action may help to fill that role, but the Center for Learning in Action seems to have a local focus, as well. While we understand the LCE’s urge to narrow its focus, we sense that the campus is losing out on the valuable service of coordinating national service projects.
We hope that the LCE and other campus groups consider the need to have a centralized organization for non-local service projects. We believe that the LCE should consider the long-term goal of including these projects in a branch of the organization once members feel that they have reestablished themselves in the student body. In the interim period, there is still the question of where to turn to organize service projects outside of Berkshire County. In the past, the Chaplains’ Office has been a source of leadership for many such projects. Perhaps, as the LCE establishes itself as a local authority on community service, it can consider expanding to a larger focus using similar infrastructure.