The voice of De Anza College since 1967

LA VOZ NEWS

Mandatory ‘civic engagement’ volunteer hours detrimental to students’ already busy lives

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De Anza's Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action (V.I.D.A.) East Cottage building is a hub for civic engagement projects.

De Anza's Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action (V.I.D.A.) East Cottage building is a hub for civic engagement projects.

De Anza's Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action (V.I.D.A.) East Cottage building is a hub for civic engagement projects.

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For me personally, the week goes by fast and furiously. Working 35 hours a week leads you to begin counting the free hours you have between waking up and going to sleep, with the majority of those hours residing after midnight. But despite this struggle, it is doable with some degree of mental strain. Laughter becomes the instinctual response when someone asks you to hang out without giving an even two week notice in advance.

Then, we get to extracurricular activities, specifically the few classes (usually political) that require at least twelve hours spent volunteering doing “civic engagement” at various organizations. During what already seems like a mission to completely sell away as many of our hours in a day as possible, this notion of mandatory extracurriculars gives me heart palpitations. And the organizations themselves pay little sympathy to our plight.

They offered an orientation at noon on a Tuesday, giving me one day notice, forcing me to reject it due to time constraints. They offered a make-up orientation for four a.m. on the immediate Friday with the same story. The organization proceeds to never contact me again. I left the organization and bitterly struggled to find another, while the professor casually remarked that “all we have to do is show up for a few hours. It’s really not that hard if you’re not lazy.”

I want to point out that my story is not entirely unlike many other students. In a study done by La Voz News, the majority of the working class students of De Anza admitted to working more than twenty hours a week, and almost every one of them followed up by agreeing that their heavy workload has put a strain on their academic health.

I don’t believe any student should have to suffer the crippling, stress-inducing process that I went through, or the plate-balancing act in which civic engagement tacks onto my just-getting-by life.  At the end of the day, if students like myself cannot somehow find a way to cancel or overhaul their work schedules, civic engagement is simply detrimental to the academic prospects of students who are already starved of free time.

 

 

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