By Catalina Righter
At Washington College student organizations have a unique opportunity not shared by most organizations in the real world; they can apply to the SGA for financial support. In order to take advantage of this resource organizations must pay back the community through regular service.
In order to continue receiving funds from the SGA an organization is required to log two service hours for every active member registered in the club. ”The SGA wants to promote service any chance we can,” said SGA Secretary of Service John Gould. “The idea behind the requirement was to encourage community outreach. We want our clubs to reach out to people outside their immediate community.”
Service hours are reported through an online form found on the WC website under the SGA’s homepage which asks for information like the number of club members attending the event and any other clubs that might have been involved
With over 80 student organizations at WC recognized by the SGA, club activities are diverse. This makes rising to the service challenge set by the SGA unique to every club.
Some organizations are already service oriented and it is easy to log service hours by carrying out the normal functions of the club. Best Buddies, Relay for Life, and Caring for Kids are some of the many organizations formed specifically to carry out service projects. Gould said, “The requirements are the same for all clubs. Service groups just have an easier time fulfilling the requirement.”
Greek life organizations are also recognized under the SGA. Philanthropy is an integral part of the experience for these clubs, and according to Gould, the hours spent on those projects count toward the SGA’s service requirement. In addition, Greek life organizations follow philanthropy guidelines set down by their respective headquarters that apply to all chapters nationwide.
Senior Jenna Massoni, president of Alpha Chi Omega, said, “For Alpha Chi Omega, we do follow the rule of two hours of service for every active member.” On the other hand not all Greek-related philanthropy counts toward SGA-related service.
“Preparing for our Casino Night does not count as service hours, but selling tickets for the event or raising awareness with facts about DVA do count towards our service hours,” said Massoni.
For other clubs, the challenge is not deciding which service hours to count, but scheduling in any service projects at all. This can be especially challenging for clubs that are very active but whose events are not service oriented, for example club sports or student political groups.
Maryland Student Legislature (MSL) President and junior Victoria Venable said of her club’s situation, “For MSL, it’s difficult to do service hours that are relevant to our club, because most politically-related service hours would be considered partisan. The MSL constitution does not allow our club to put the MSL name on anything partisan or else we could lose our charter,”
Of these clubs, Gould said, “We understand that sometimes their scheduling makes it difficult, as does their fluctuating membership. We work with these organizations closely to help them reach their required hours.”
Often the answer for these groups is to pair with other organizations to plan events. “We do allow non-service clubs to help with service clubs events to fulfill their hours,” said Gould. This way non-service clubs can take advantage of the resources of clubs more experienced with service events. This also fills an additional SGA requirement that clubs must collaborate with another campus club at least once per semester.
This is also helpful for Greek organizations to embrace the idea of collaborative service. Massoni said, “We do a lot with our philanthropy, but we also support other Greek’s events such as Big Man on Campus or the AOII’s 5k.”