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The Foothill Dragon Press

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The Foothill Dragon Press

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The Foothill Dragon Press

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Editorial: Mandatory volunteering is oxymoronic

Credit: Dragon Press Editorial Board

As graduation is rapidly approaching for Foothill seniors, many are scrambling to find ways to fulfill their required community service hours, whether it be successful or not. In the last few weeks of senior year, students are struggling to cram in hours—sometimes more than 50 hours a week—or they sacrifice their ability to walk at graduation.

The irony of requiring students to complete a certain amount of hours has undermined the selflessness of volunteering. We now look at community service as something that we have to do, not something that we want to do. Rather than stemming from our hearts, community service stems from the selfish desire to fulfill a requirement in order to participate in graduation ceremonies. It tarnishes the very ideal it was meant to uphold and reduces the benefit of community service to one that is purely quantitative.

When community service is mandatory, it prompts students to choose their service by how they can check off a requirement as quickly and effortlessly as possible, instead of by how they can affect the most change. It leads to cases where students spend 75 hours watching a cat or waiting in a hospital lobby; they aren’t actively pursuing meaningful service. As a result, these students act in a paradox, wasting time intended to be spent on causes that might otherwise be given to more meaningful causes.

Not only is it nonsensical to require volunteering, there are also rules regulating the community service opportunities that students may complete. Those who may be actively involved in service projects within their church and devote their time to that area of community service are limited on how many hours they can count towards their graduation requirement. Additionally, regardless of the type of service they are providing, all students are limited to logging eight hours a day. Though some may volunteer at 24 hour events such as “Relay for Life,” they are only allowed to count a portion of that time towards their required 75 hours.

Since kindergarten, it is a student’s hope and dream to walk across the stage at graduation, hear their name called with their graduating class and move their tassel from right to left. Despite meeting all other requirements, a select amount of Foothill seniors are unable to participate in this ceremony because they haven’t completed their service hours.

This one unfulfilled requirement diminishes all other accomplishments that students make throughout their high school career; if they do not complete the required volunteer work, all other achievements go unrecognized at the event meant to be the symbolic moment of their passage to adulthood.

Community service can be an extremely valuable experience but forcing it upon students takes away the potential for it to have the same effect. If community service was no longer a graduation requirement, students would not cease to volunteer; abolishing the requirement doesn’t get rid of the motivations students have to volunteer. Students who have a passion for service would still do so and could still receive recognition for their work. Keep the awards, keep the recognition, but get rid of the requirements that make community service an obligation.


Editorials reflect a majority opinion of the 11-person Editorial Review Board and are written collaboratively.

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Comments on articles are screened and those determined by editors to be crude, overly mean-spirited or that serve primarily as personal attacks will not be approved. The Editorial Review Board, made up of 11 student editors and a faculty adviser, make decisions on content.
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  • 6

    69gJan 23, 2020 at 4:48 pm


  • J

    Jackson Bailey (formal student)Apr 14, 2018 at 3:28 pm


    You’re just salty because you waited till the last minute to do your hours.

    It was clearly stated to you multiple times since you were a freshman, to do your hours before senior year. The whole point of doing the hours is to instill a sense of pride in doing your work. Also You only have to do 75 hours to meet the minimum requirement. You have 4 years to do it. 365 times 4 is 1460. That’s a lot of days to simply spend one or two hours a day working at an organization that in some cases, depend on the students of all High schools to go out and volunteer. That’s right. All high schools. It doesn’t matter where you go, you always have to do community service hours in order to graduate.

    I didn’t even really try to reach the 75 mark. I just made it a part of my schedule to go to the local veterans home every Monday and Friday for an hour. I had 75 hours within the first two years, and never had to worry about it again. I even kept going because I made friends at the veterans home that looked forward to seeing me every time I went. I applied for the presidential service award, got more than a hundred hours in a year, and now I have a shiny plaque on my wall and a total of 225 hours of community service to put on my resume. All because of this requirement, which if it WASN’T required, I would have never done it. After doing it for a short period of time, I realized how much it was helping me and the people around me, and I enjoyed it and wanted to give to my community more.

    Requiring students to do only 75 hours when you have 4 years to do them all is not a big issue. If students are saying “I don’t have time to do this” for 4 years straight, that is on the students fault, not the system.

    Yes, people may be upset about having to devote time to it, but it is a part of growing up. It helped me, and if you don’t see this as an obstacle, but as an opportunity, more good will come out of this than bad.

  • C

    Cherie EulauApr 14, 2018 at 11:37 am

    There many students who have jobs, familial obligations or difficulties getting a ride to do their service, so there is a certain amount of elitism to this requirement. (I requested that the staff revisit this requirement several weeks ago).

    • J

      Jane Grim (former student)Apr 15, 2018 at 11:02 pm

      While I do see how there is an amount of elitism to the request, I would have to agree with my friend Jackson. You are whining about something that you have no right to complain about.

      When I was going to Foothill, I had a lot of things against me for completing the community service requirement. I was unable to drive because of my families situation, I had a job, played sports within my high school (before Foothill even offered them so I had to go to my boundary school), played sports outside of high school (rugby with a club that met in thousand oaks), babysat (younger siblings and family friends), and was in AP classes for a majority of my time on campus. My siblings were diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, and autism (previously known as Asperger Syndrome) within my first three years of high school. Feeling like a time bomb counting down, I was waiting to be hit by some sort of mental condition, while my family grew with two half siblings. Being from a divorced home as well, I went back and forth from Ventura to Oxnard; and with no way to drive myself was at the mercy of my parents and bus schedules. I waited till the last year because of everything I was juggling, and had to work myself to get those hours, but it taught valuable lessons that I still use to this day.

      I understand in the moment, it’s frustrating and heartbreaking for the kids that can’t seem to figure it out. They give up because of the weight that is upon their shoulders by external forces. The sad thing is, in life and in a job, if you are hired on or accepted into a position with certain perimeters, it is your responsibility to meet them. I wish luck to an employee telling their boss that ‘they can’t do this one thing’, when it is clearly laid out to them when they are first hired on. As Jackson said, it is clearly stated… multiple times.

      Don’t take these kids out of the community because it may be ‘hard’ to figure it out. Push them to understand the importance of what they are actually doing. Being a part of the community is something that we are starting to loose as a people. Instead, we would rather hide behind out laptop screens writing articles and comments about how things should be instead of actively going out and trying to change it (this is more for the author and less for you Mrs. Eulau). You may not get an ‘amazing’ experience out of it like Jackson did, but if you don’t learn something for it… that’s on you.

      Just because it’s mandatory… doesn’t take the value out of it. Only you can do that.

      *note: I used a pen name in order to save the identity of my siblings. *

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Editorial: Mandatory volunteering is oxymoronic