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.