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Academic Service Learning
California's Call to Service

Item 7


September 9-10, 1999

The Governor’s Proposed Community
Service Graduation Requirement

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate of the California State University request that the CSU campus senates consider the Governor’s request for a community service graduation requirement; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU request that the local senates assess the impact of a Community Service Graduation requirement including such issues as resource allocation, student’s time to degree, potential liability, faculty/staff workload, and other aspects of implementing such a change; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the campus senates respond to the Academic Senate CSU by February 1, 2000 with their views.

RATIONALE: The California State University has long accepted that part of our mission as a state-supported system of higher education is the providing of appropriate forms of service to the communities——local and regional and statewide——in which campuses are located. The desirability of civic engagement on the part of our students is spelled out in the recent Study of the Baccalaureate done by the Academic Senate of the California State University. At its May 1999 meeting the Academic Senate CSU passed a resolution (AS-2455-99/AA) which called for a determination of "the appropriate resources and mechanisms to provide the opportunities and incentives necessary to CSU students in meaningful service activities," noting that incentives and opportunities are more appropriate ways of fostering an ethic of service than would mandating community service for all CSU students, and that such mandatory service would raise resources, liability, and public relations issues.

In July of 1999 Governor Gray Davis requested the CSU and the other public higher education segments in California to "establish a community service requirement for undergraduate students." He asked that such a requirement be approached thoughtfully and that the Chancellor "develop a plan for adoption by the Trustees that would establish a graduation requirement for community service." The Governor requested that faculty work together "to create a proposal implementing a community service graduation requirement" and that this process begin with the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates.

At the August 1999 meeting of the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates representatives of the Senates agreed that response to the community service graduation proposal should be deferred to each of the system senates, and from them to the faculty on the campuses. The present resolution is in response to this plan.

As an aid for campus consideration we have included the following list of potential questions:

Is the proposal clear in its intent in terms of the breadth of the application of the proposed requirement across programs and the timeline for its implementation?

If community service is not to be a blanket graduation requirement, which programs should be excluded and/or which students should be exempt?

If a student volunteer is rejected by the proposed agency, what provisions will you be able to make to accommodate the student?

On your campus, who would monitor completion of this requirement? How efficient would this be? What additional resources would be needed for this?

To what extent should community service be (or not be) credit-bearing?

What specific costs (resources, staff, supervising, and reporting) would you anticipate in implementing such a requirement?

What effect would you anticipate on time-to-graduation?

Would you anticipate any new, burdensome issues regarding legal liability between the campus and the community?

Would this requirement be met in the lower division or upper division years? How would you address transfer and articulation issues with community colleges in your service area?

What limits, if any, should be attached to the terms "service" and "community," assuming that a "community service graduation requirement" should be multifaceted?

If community service is to be done in K-12 classrooms, can issues and costs of fingerprinting, character references, drug-testing, and the like be resolved?

Are there enough off-campus service demand and opportunities for your campus population for the performance of community service?

What would you foresee as benefits to students in the performance of students? How and why could this enhance their learning?

Would there be any unusual dangers and risks in your service area?

If your students in clinical professional programs perform community service, will they be risking any particular liability?

Do you agree with the statement in the May Academic Senate CSU resolution that a service ethic is fostered better by providing incentives and opportunities than by mandating service?

Have you done or anticipated a survey of your community’s ability to train, accept, and monitor alternating flows of student volunteers? How will they affect agency profiles?

For courses on our campuses that have a service component, who will evaluate the appropriateness of that service toward satisfaction of the community service graduation requirement under this program?

Are there potentials for damage to already-accredited professional programs because of an increase in the ratio of students to supervisors (or volunteers to agencies)?

What would be an appropriate amount of community service (e.g., number of hours) to be required for graduation?

Do you anticipate your students competing with other state interests — e.g., a need to place welfare recipients in community service jobs ?

What community needs in your community might be addressed by community service done by your students? Who would determine what these community needs are?

Should assessment of community needs be done with attention to the effect of mandatory community service on town/gown relationships?

What area of campus will take on the responsibility for resolving legal issues arising from the performance of community service?

What assessment measures are you prepared to set up to evaluate the success or failure of the community service program?

Do you anticipate any special problems concerning transfer and articulation issues between the CSU and the UC and/or Community Colleges related to a community service graduation requirement?

Because AS-2455-99/AA raised some general concerns about the implementation of a community service requirement, the Academic Senate CSU requests the local senates to consider the above questions when responding to our request for advice and information to transmit to the Chancellor for use in responding to the Governor’s call for a plan to implement a community service graduation requirement.

APPROVED — September 9-10, 1999

Content Contact:
Judy Botelho
(562) 951-4749
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Last Updated: May 06, 2016