We’ve had a lot of conversations over the past few months and years about what service means to the Olin community. Now it’s time to address all the concerns we’ve noted time and again.
We’re proposing a complete restructuring of SERV, which you can find the details of within CORe’s restructuring proposal for Olin’s student government (read more about Olin’s change of structure to student government in the previous article “If It Ain’t Broke… Make It Better”). We’re presenting an alternative version of SERV where the current 8-person SERV Board will be condensed down to a 2-person committee consisting of a Director and Assistant Director. This doesn’t mean SERV is going away or hiding behind the scenes. It doesn’t mean service is any less important. It simply means that we’re setting up a structure to revert back to SERV’s original purpose.
As it currently stands, it is largely up to the SERV Board to generate and implement all service ideas at Olin, which has led to a warped sense of what service means to our community and placed a certain stigma around Friday Service Time. SERV’s actual role should be to facilitate and fund service clubs, organizations and activities, and we think it will be far more effective to have a 2-person committee working with a wider group of non-SERV members to revitalize service at Olin.
Oh, and about Friday Service Time – we’re proposing a name change to something, more along the lines of “Community Time” or “Community Growth Time,” in order to encompass a wider net of activities that could improve Olin as well as help the outside community. If you have any ideas for what we should rename the time to, drop us a line. If you’re unfamiliar with what Friday Service Time is, look in the course catalog on star.olin.edu at the time slot on Fridays from 3:20 – 5:00. You’ll notice it is blocked off as “Community Service.”
Now here’s the fun part! We are also using this semester to experiment with different ways to encourage service at Olin. After reflecting on feedback received last semester about Olin’s culture and what we can do to improve service awareness at Olin at the conversation with Rae-Anne Butera, the SERV Board is excited to introduce a new program we are piloting this semester: Service Pursuits. Much like the existing Passionate Pursuits program, the Service Pursuits program encourages and supports students toward pursuing their personal philanthropic interests during their time at Olin. Students choose a project, set their own goals, and develop their interests with the guidance of faculty or staff members. Then they can receive funding from SERV.
There is a wide variety of service opportunities open to Olin community members. Some opportunities are off-campus with local non-profit organizations, while others are internal, such as service to the college. Both types of projects will be considered for funding. Funding of up to $50 per student will be available each semester, and we encourage students to submit applications to the SERV Board at any time throughout the semester. The Service Pursuits application form will be emailed out today and placed in the SERV folder on Public. You can also grab a hard copy from us when we table at lunch!
In addition, we are introducing the Service Drivers mailing list: firstname.lastname@example.org. This list is for student volunteers willing to provide rides for people who want to do service off campus. Students seeking rides related to performing service can send a request to the mailing list to see if anyone is available to help them with transportation.
Both of these programs are new, and we would love to hear your feedback. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, or if you just want to chat about the state of service at Olin, please email email@example.com.