DEARING & WEISS: Seeking Out Service in All Student Life
Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 25, 2013 00:10
Georgetown is defined by its student life. More than 90 percent of undergraduates belong to at least one student organization, and outside of the classroom, clubs are the heart and soul of the Georgetown experience. It is within these groups that many students find their closest friends, their true passions and, more broadly, themselves.
While the appeal of Greek life is understandable, we believe that there is a higher communal value in our club-based student lifestyle than that found through pledging. Georgetown’s social scene unites students through a drive for a similar passion and allows them to pursue that passion together. It is through this energy that we’ve observed an extraordinary quality: student groups harnessing that unifying passion and directing it toward the service of others. This is a trend that we hope can spread to every student organization on campus.
Every student group, regardless of their central purpose or affiliation, has the capacity for tremendous service. The Georgetown Running Club, for instance, has come to exemplify this approach. This organization was founded in 2007 simply as a group of people that enjoy running together. This passion is what continues to bind them together — talking about runs, enjoying runs and ultimately finding friendship in the process. Until recently, this was the extent of their outlook as an organization.
Then, a few committed individuals decided that this collective love for running could be better directed. The Running Club became involved with nonprofit Back on My Feet, in which residents of homeless shelters rise early in the morning three times per week to run with volunteers. These Running Club members decided to put together a group, get a van and participate in this program once a month. This then inspired younger members to get involved, and by the next year there was a "Running Club Community Outreach position. Soon, "Back on My Feet" became a weekly event, with Running Club members filling a 12-passenger van at 5:15 a.m. every Wednesday, eager to make a difference. Other members of the club began to work to raise money for charity 5k races. Service has become a norm for the running club — a passion to help others that is ultimately derived from a shared interest in jogging.
And the Running Club is not unique. There are numerous examples of current clubs that have already taken this step, using their interests as a means of giving back. Whether it be a capella groups performing at charity events, teams instructing disadvantaged youth in the sports that they love or cultural groups raising awareness for a cause with which they identify, there is always an opportunity to take what you love and use it to make our world a better place. There is no reason why this should not spread throughout campus: Every club has a shared passion, and every passion has a possible outlet for good. While service through an explicitly service-oriented club is truly admirable, there’s no reason why a notion of service can’t be brought to other clubs.
It is ultimately up to us to make this change: to think, to discuss and to act on what we love in order to find a way to use our talents for others. If there is a group or an activity that you and your friends are excited about, positive change is surely possible. Today is the day for you to make a change — to do your part in shifting campus culture. One enkindled spirit can set hundreds on fire. Together, we can make this campus a university for others.
Benjamin Weiss and Philip Dearing are juniors in the College. A University for Others appears every other Friday.