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Public Affairs

CSU STUDENTS VOLUNTEER 33.6 MILLION HOURS ANNUALLY

Trustees to Hear Response to Governor's Call for Community Service and the Latest Data on CSU Student Attitudes on and Involvement in Community Service

The California State University Board of Trustees will vote on a resolution regarding community service in the CSU at their March 14-15 meeting on the San Jose State University campus. The resolution is in response to Governor Gray Davis' call in July for California higher education to develop a community service requirement for all students attending public colleges and universities.

In addition, the Trustees will hear the latest data on CSU student volunteerism, including that more than 135,000 students throughout the state perform a total of about 33.6 million hours of community service annually. That's a minimum wage value of about $193.2 million. The information, based on data gathered last year, is part of the preliminary results of the CSU Student Needs and Priorities Survey (SNAPS).

"Over the past few years, the CSU has put an emphasis on service learning because of the benefits it provides for our students and our communities," said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. "Service learning and community service not only improve the communities we live in, but it teaches our students the value and satisfaction that comes from contributing to society, and helps them to learn more about themselves."

The SNAPS report also indicated a great deal of student interest in service learning, including:

  • 37 percent of CSU students had either taken or are interested in participating in service learning, which links academic courses to community service activities.
  • 70 percent of CSU students who had taken service learning courses indicated it helped them master the subject more than an traditional course.
  • 74 percent said it developed civic awareness and responsibility better than a traditional course.
  • 73 percent said it provided more opportunities to explore career options than a traditional course.

In September 1997, the CSU developed a Community Service-Learning Strategic Plan. Currently, all 22 campuses facilitate service-learning, and their programs are supported by the CSU Chancellor's Office systemwide coordinator of service learning, a position that was created two years ago.

The strategic plan provides direction for each campus to maximize the potential of service learning. The two key objectives of the five-year plan (1997-2002) are to engage students at each CSU campus in at least one service-learning experience prior to graduation, and to offer an ongoing variety of service-learning experiences so that all students will have those opportunities. All CSU campuses now have identified a service-learning coordinator, two-thirds have established a service-learning office and most campuses have built service-learning into their mission statements.

In addition, many CSU executives are national leaders in service learning. For example, San Francisco State President Robert Corrigan is the current chair of California Campus Compact and for several years was a member of the national Campus Compact Executive Committee. Campus Compact is a national coalition of almost 600 presidents committed to engaging their students more deeply in community service. Every CSU campus is a member. Also, every CSU campus is participating in the national literacy effort America Reads. President Corrigan chairs its steering committee, and Chancellor Reed and Cal Poly Pomona President Bob Suzuki both serve on it.

Examples of Service-Learning Courses in the California State University

CSU Northridge microbiology students have conducted water tests to enable a local community worried about septic tank leaks to determine whether and by what means its water supply was contaminated.

San Francisco State students in both the marketing and the arts departments work collaboratively in an interdisciplinary course to develop and produce public service announcements for Bay-area nonprofit agencies.

CSU Fresno students in an interdisciplinary course called "Census 2000" are mobilizing community residents to participate in this year's census, while at the same time studying statistical analysis, community mobilization, and the historical, economic and social issues related to the census.

CSU Los Angeles offers a certificate program to train students and professionals working in community-based agencies to be more sensitive in serving diverse populations.

CSU Monterey Bay students work in schools, non-profit organizations and other community organizations as technology tutors, helping others learn web-page construction, multi-media work, database management, infrastructure upgrading and hardware refurbishing.

CSU Sacramento students in a human genetics course provide services to children with genetic diseases and their families by visiting hospitalized children, researching adaptive equipment and/or special programs, and assisting families with recreational outings.

CSU Bakersfield music students visit elementary schools and perform for the children. After the performance, they demonstrate how to use the instruments, discuss their experience with music and share how it has affected their lives.

CSU Chico students, in introductory accounting courses, teach high school students about economics, business and computers.

14 March 2000