Mar 062003
 
Authors: Anthea Mustari

Students at CSU in fields that lend themselves to community service activities may be able to receive scholarship money for service-learning activities in which they are already participating.

As a part of a series of forums hosted by the CSU Center for Teaching and Learning, various faculty members discussed the possibility of CSU joining the Colorado Campus Compact, an organization that promotes community service, citizenship skills, civic values and partnerships between campuses and their respective communities.

Member institutions of Colorado Campus Compact pay a specific amount of dues, determined by the institution’s full-time undergraduate enrollment. If CSU were to join Colorado Campus Compact, it would have to pay $11,067.35 in dues, according to information provided by Theresa Cusimano, executive director of Colorado Campus Compact. In return for dues, among other things, the organization provides scholarships, based on community service, to students at the university.

Colorado Campus Compact is the state-level branch of the national organization, Campus Compact, and already has 13 member institutions in Colorado, including the University of Colorado system, the University of Denver, Colorado College and most recently, the University of Northern Colorado.

CSU was actually a previous member of Colorado Campus Compact when it began, but later dropped out of the organization five years later.

“I don’t know of another return ratio like this that all goes to the students,” said Margarita Lenk, a professor in the College of Business.

The amount of a student’s scholarship is determined by the number of community service hours that student worked. Students who complete 300 hours of community service are eligible to receive $1,000 scholarships and those who complete 450 hours of community service are eligible to receive $1,250 scholarships. Students completing 900 hours of service, which can be spread over two years, are eligible to receive $2,300 scholarships.

The Campus Compact organization obtains its scholarship funds from a national, direct AmeriCorps grant that it manages.

Colorado Campus Compact helps member institutions to identify the programs in the college or university that lend themselves to participating. Teaching and nursing programs at UNC are the main candidates for the program because these students are already doing community service as a part of their education, through student teaching and nursing internships.

Faculty members at the forum discussed similar programs at CSU that would fit well into the Colorado Campus Compact program for community service, including programs in sociology, social work, education and graduate studies.

However, amidst the current budget crisis at CSU, problems arise in determining where the university would obtain funds to pay the Colorado Campus Compact membership dues.

Linda Kuk, vice president of student affairs, said money is limited and it is a matter of determining how to distribute that money throughout the university.

“People don’t clearly understand the ramifications of what’s happening at the state level,” Kuk said. “How does this stack up in relationship to the other priorities of the institution?”

Kuk said she would love for CSU to be able to participate and would love for students to be able to receive these scholarships

Faculty members discussed the possibility of many colleges and departments contributing smaller amounts of money, rather than having funds for dues come from just one place.

“I think the only way to get this, at this point in time, is to have a number of people putting money on the table,” Kuk said.

The forum also discussed approaching the Associated Students of CSU to ask for a contribution from student fee money to help pay for dues.

Cusimano was not surprised by the concern over funds, but said it isn’t something she has encountered at many other institutions across the state.

“We actually have almost full membership through many of the state’s systems,” Cusimano said. “I’m not surprised by it, knowing where CSU is, but we haven’t run into it at all the other major universities. They continue to see it as an investment in their teaching and learning and in their resources for students.”

If CSU does decide to join the Colorado Campus Compact, it would not necessarily create service learning mandates or graduation requirements for students.

“The compact leaves all campus policy to the campus,” Cusimano said. “We work with a number of campuses that have made service learning a requirement; we work with many that have not made it a requirement. They both have a lot of pros and cons that go with them.”

Colorado Campus Compact and the national Campus Compact organization are more than just a funding source. Cusimano said the compact does many other things for member institutions, including striving to bridge the divide and the disconnect between universities and the communities within which they exist.

“Membership in the compact is really a resource tool,” Cusimano said. “It’s funding, but it’s also an intellectual resource.”

Faculty members at the forum discussed hosting another meeting on the issue, involving some key players from college and departments who may have an interest in helping to fund the dues.

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