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Service a Graduation Requirement at Santa Clara University
Each year, at least 40 percent of Santa Clara University’s students engage in some sort of community service or social justice work, which is to be expected for a Jesuit university whose motto is to educate men and women of competence, conscience, and compassion.
But starting in the fall of 2009, that motto is getting a bit more teeth, because of the university’s new mandatory core curriculum. All incoming freshmen and beyond will be required to complete one service-related course or immersion experience. They must log no less than 16 hours over eight weeks during a community experience or at least 24 hours spread over five days during an immersion.
Their experience can take place at a soup kitchen or with Alzheimer’s patients. Students can teach environmentalism to low-income high schoolers, volunteer on a political campaign, or any number of other initiatives.
The goal is get students into socially, economically, and/or politically marginalized or oppressed communities. The logic, according to university officials: “The health of any democratic community depends largely on the ability of its members to participate in and contribute actively to community service, philanthropy, and the political system. …. Yet young people have been disengaging from public life in some troubling ways. Compared to their parents and grandparents, youth are less likely to vote, to trust others and their government, and to believe in the importance of following public affairs.”
While national and community service is a hot issue on the national stage thanks to President Barack Obama and Congressional and Senate hearings – at the Jesuit campus of Santa Clara, service has long been in its DNA.
SCU offers more than 60 programs and organizations that allow hundreds of students every year to reach out across the country and around the world.