Students spearhead efforts to add community service requirement to common curriculum – The Lafayette

Lafayette students are universally familiar with Common Curriculum (CCS) requirements, such as the writing requirement and the quantitative reasoning requirement. In the near future, however, students may need to consider a new element of Lafayette’s general education curriculum: a community service requirement.

Fatimata Cham ’23, Director of the Student Government Equity and Inclusion Committee, explained that interest in adding a community service requirement to CCS grew within student government last semester. . Additionally, classics professor Markus Dubischar, who is a member of the CCS Steering Committee, started a conversation about the potential for a critical race theory or community service requirement.

Cham, who is also involved with Dear Lafayette College, a collective of Black Lafayette students, attributed the growing interest to pressure on the school from Dear Lafayette demands. The original list of demands, submitted to the college administration and board last October, contains a “Community Outreach” sub-section in which the group emphasizes greater engagement with the Easton area.

Outside of student government, another party interested in seeing this community service requirement fulfilled is Kaleidoscope. According to the organization’s page on the Lafayette website, Kaleidoscope is a group of “social justice peer educators who encourage student leaders to take an active role in educating the campus on issues of multiculturalism, d ‘equity and social justice’.

For Kaleidoscope member Milena Berestko ’22, promoting the addition of a community service requirement is crucial. Berestko noted the disconnect between Lafayette College and the Easton community as motivation for initiating the requirement.

Everything we do as peer educators aims to awaken our community to the injustices they face while talking about the root causes,” Berestko said. Lafayette is part of the Easton community, but she is much higher in the social hierarchy. Service requirements would therefore open students’ eyes to the issues present in the West End and Lehigh Valley and thus help them understand that their actions have a direct impact. .”

When asked what their ideal community service needs would look like, Cham and Berestko both explained that they want students to gain a better understanding of the spaces they occupy and alert them to the needs and concerns of the people they live with in the Easton community. Cham also noted that a community service requirement under CCS would allocate time for busy students to be specifically involved in service.

“Alongside the Landis Center, having students more involved in the community is really, really important, especially because we’ve been on this campus for four years,” Cham said. “But many of us don’t understand opportunity because of all of our other extracurricular commitments and activities.

Berestko noted the variety of possibilities regarding community service opportunities for students of all disciplines. She said the ability to tailor the service to academic interests could make students passionate about their work.

“I would like to see students from a [Anthropology and Sociology] class working in Safe Harbor learning about the history of the Lehigh Valley and political studies students advocating for homeless law change in Easton,” Berestko said. “I would like to see students working with local business owners and with the Nature and Nurture Center to develop a climate mitigation plan and help those hardest hit.

Berestko concluded that there are multiple benefits to adding a community service requirement to the CCS, not just for students, but for the community as a whole.

“The Lafayette administration and the students must recognize that education is a community activity, we owe land to the Lenape people, we owe land to the Eastonians due to recent expansions, and we have a responsibility to close the gap in wealth,” Berestko said. “Since giving money is easy, we have to give our service and our time, which is more difficult.

Jill E. Washington