2012 Orientation will launch first-years into community service

By Benjamin Pokross

A new pre-orientation program, Chicago Bound, will allow first-year students to learn about community service opportunities in the city of Chicago.

Twenty first-years will participate in a pilot from September 16 to September 22 this fall, the week preceding O-Week.

Amy Chan, director of the University Community Service Center (UCSC), said she wants it to expose incoming freshmen to the city, though she has not planned the exact activities yet.

“One of the greatest assets of the University is that it’s located in the city of Chicago,” Chan said, “We want students to see that their learning extends beyond campus and Hyde Park.”

First-years will have to apply to the program, but Chan hopes that the program will attract both students who have experience in community service and those who want to learn more. Four upperclassmen will help lead the program by serving as student leaders, and help design the pilot.

The first-years who are selected will be able to make connections with members of the larger community, according to Chan, and other students.

“We see these students joining one of the 58 CS RSOs and applying to the various internship and leadership programs at UCSC.”

The idea for the program came from Chan’s observations of other universities, where she noted that most of them have a community service program for incoming freshman.

While this summer’s program is only a pilot, Chan is confident that the program will expand in the coming years. “UCSC hopes to expand…and gradually increase the number of student participants each year,” she said.

Community Service RSO leaders had a generally positive reaction to the announcement of the program.

“I would have wanted to go as a first-year,” fourth-year Libby Bova, the president of Partnership for the Advancement of Refugee Rights, said.

“Community service is not as valued a part of the university experience at the University of Chicago as it should be.”

Third-year Akshaya Kannan, co-president of Students for Health Equity, also felt it would be good exposure for incoming students and for her RSO. “It would create a space for us to advertise,” she said.