Letter to the Editor: Mandatory service is fine

Alex Martens

To the Editorial Staff of The Daily Eastern News:

By Alex Martens

I would like to consider the following letter my response to one of your recent editorials, Eastern should not mandate community service on its new students.

The very mission statement of an Eastern Illinois student, let alone the citizens of the Coles County community, is to be that responsible citizen.

This community is being rebuilt by those who love to serve. When being oriented into our university, students are told about our leadership’s passion for service and volunteerism.

The emphasis should be put on building impressionable students into positive role models in their future communities.

At the end of your article you state, “Not only do we need you to spend in the community, but we also expect you to commit your time to volunteer in the community.”

I find it disheartening that you believe that volunteer work is equivalent to spending money in the community. Yes, shopping local is important and supports our community, but the work that Eastern’s Civic Engagement and Volunteerism Office facilitates reaches out in a different way.

By volunteering with Eastern’s offices, students are helping to create fleece blankets for low income families, helping the village of Ashmore with underfunded and understaffed local town projects, helping the sexual assault center in town (SACIS) and so much more.

The growth that those services give to our students and our community cannot simply be equated to buying a coffee at the local coffee shop.

At the most recent volunteer event (Jump Start), we did not have a single staff member of your editorial board ask for an interview with any of the Civic Engagement and Volunteerism office members. I believe that before writing an editorial, there should be more research put into the thoughts and concerns before stating your issues.

Over 33 percent of students, the largest portion, cited that Jump Start was the first time they had volunteered this year. To start off an incoming student’s experience here at Eastern by doing something positive for the community is something that should be celebrated.

Eastern is committed to instilling volunteer work because it is important, it helps our non-profit partners (who help a majority of students) and it helps Eastern students become responsible citizens.


Alex Martens