Lafayette students are universally familiar with the requirements of the Common Study Program (CCS), such as the writing requirement and the quantitative reasoning requirement. In the near future, however, students may need to consider a new element of Lafayette’s general education curriculum: a requirement for community service.
Fatimata Cham ’23, Director of the Student Government Equity and Inclusion Committee, explained that interest in adding a community service requirement to the CCS grew within the student government during the semester. last. Additionally, Classics Professor Markus Dubischar, who is a member of the CCS Steering Committee, started a conversation about the potential for a critical race theory or community service requirement.
Cham, who is also involved with Dear Lafayette College, a collective of black students from Lafayette, attributed this growing interest to the pressure placed on the school by Dear Lafayette’s demands. The original list of requests, submitted to the college administration and board last October, contains a “Communication” subsection in which the group insisted on greater engagement with the Easton region.
Outside of student government, Kaleidoscope is another party interested in seeing this community service requirement fulfilled. According to the organization’s page on Lafayette’s website, Kaleidoscope is a group of “peer social justice educators who encourage student leaders to take an active role in campus education on issues of multiculturalism, equity, etc. and social justice ”.
For Kaleidoscope member Milena Berestko ’22, promoting the addition of a community service requirement is crucial. Berestko noted the disconnect between Lafayette College and the Easton community as a motivation to initiate the requirement.
“Everything we do as peer educators is aimed at awakening our community to the injustices they face while talking about the root causes, ”said Berestko. “Lafayette is part of the Easton community but she is much higher in a social hierarchy, so the demands of service would open the eyes of students to the issues in the West Quarter and the Lehigh Valley and thus help them understand that their actions have a direct impact. “
When asked what their ideal community service requirement would look like, Cham and Berestko both explained that they want students to gain a better understanding of the spaces they occupy and to alert students to the needs and concerns of the people they live with in the Easton community. Cham also noted that a community service requirement under the CCS would allow busy students time to be specifically involved in service.
“Alongside the Landis Center, having students more involved in the community is really, really important, especially because we’ve been on this campus for four years, ”Cham said. “But many of us don’t understand opportunity due to all of our other extracurricular engagements and activities.
Berestko noted the variety of possibilities regarding community service opportunities for students in all disciplines. She said the ability to tailor the service to academic interests could motivate students to become passionate about their work.
“I would love to see students from a [Anthropology and Sociology] class working in Safe Harbor learning about the Lehigh Valley history and political studies students arguing for a change in the homeless law in Easton, ”Berestko said. “I would love to see students work with local business owners and with the Nature and Nurture Center to develop a climate mitigation plan and help those hardest hit.
Berestko concluded that there are multiple benefits to adding a community service requirement to the CCS, not just for the students, but for the community as a whole.
“The Lafayette administration and students need to recognize that education is a community activity, we owe land to the Lenape people, we owe land to Eastonians because of recent expansions, and we have a responsibility to close the gap. wealth, ”said Berestko. “Since giving money is easy, we have to give our service and our time, which is more difficult.