By Charles Logan
Elm staff writer
The Student Government Association (SGA) has the final say on whether or not new and existing clubs survive here at Washington College. They are now taking on a new initiative where all clubs must pledge to take part in community service hours.
“The idea for the new requirement is that every club commit to at least two hours of community service throughout the year,” SGA President Zac Pandl said. “The end goal is to increase the already substantial amount of service that the student body does, and that every club should do.”
In order to monitor clubs with the new program, all volunteer hours will now run through the budget committee.
“All new clubs will have to come to us with a detailed community service plan before they receive funding from SGA,” SGA Financial Controller Nich Tremper said.
“There was an overwhelming amount of support from club leaders last spring at the Council of Presidents meeting, and reception still seems high,” Tremper said.
Club leaders seem to be in support of the new requirements and see it as a chance to give back to the community.
Secretary of both the Student Environmental Alliance (SEA) and Psychology Club junior Cara Murray said, “Personally, I think it’s a good thing. For the SEA, we did a lot of community service already. We’ve taken this as a chance to encourage our other club members to come up with their own ideas of what they would like our community outreach to be.” Murray said they already have plans in place to do trail cleaning and other outreach activities.
Other club leaders are not so convinced that the new requirements are a welcome change.
President of Washington Interactive Gaming Society (WIGS) senior George Essig said, “The whole two hours per club member is awkward. It’s almost a motivation to keep clubs small, which I’m sure is not what the SGA wants. They are really vague with what constitutes community service hours. It completely blind-sided us, and to be perfectly frank, it put a wrench into our plans for the rest of the semester. To me it’s very poorly implemented and they haven’t explained it very well. If they are going to implement something, I’d like strict definitions and a heads up.”
WIGS will probably not ask for funding next semester from the SGA as a result of the new rules.
The senate budget committee is responsible for clearing all clubs before they are voted on by the senate and sponsored by SGA.
“If clubs do not complete their community service requirement, they will not receive funding from SGA.” Tremper said.
Clubs that revolve around volunteering such as Amnesty International, Habitat for Humanity, and Relay for Life will have no trouble with filling their requirement. Others will have to get a little creative.
At last week’s senate meeting, for example, sophomore Michael Deck stood before the senate to present a proposal for a bowling club to be started at WC. He needed to include community service considerations in his presentations.
“In the case of volunteering, we hope to teach bowling lessons to children in the community to spread skills and interest,” Deck said.
“This new measure helps achieve the end goals of clubs, which is to be more active on campus in a positive way that benefits the whole community,” Pandl said.
The initiative will be enacted later this year starting with a requirement of a minimum of one hour of community service per member of each club. From there, SGA leadership hopes to increase that amount.