Students and Faculty Discuss Importance of Non Sibi Day and Required Community Service

With impressions of this year’s Non Sibi day entrenched in their minds, students and faculty gathered to discuss the role of community service at Andover in a forum titled, “Non Sibi Day: Why Bother?” this past Friday, October 15. Andy Housiaux, Instructor in Philosophy and Religious Studies, along with Jackie Lender ’11 and April Liang ’11, Community Service General Managers, organized the meeting to discuss community service and grapple with the idea of community service requirements at Andover, such as Non Sibi Day. “We wanted to provide a place for students to come and think philosophically about community service and some of the broader questions around it,” said Housiaux. “These conversations may come up in a dorm, in an English class, in the car ride after Non Sibi day, but they also may not. We wanted people to talk about these things if they were interested in it.” Housiaux said that the meeting aimed to address important questions regarding motivation for community service. Elizabeth Davisson, Interim Director of Community Service, said, “While Non Sibi is a great school motto, I could argue that it is a problem when Non Sibi frequently gets equated with community service. Non Sibi is more of an mind set, and it is certainly worth more than one day.” Housiaux said, “I think that if we value service as an institution, we need to make a significant institutional commitment to it, which means more than one day, on which there are conflicts for a number of students.” “This might mean having more faculty involved in the community service program or having community service learning courses in a range of different departments on campus. I don’t think we demonstrate our commitment by what we do once. We demonstrate our commitment on where we spend our time, where we spend our money, and what we do repeatedly over time,” he added. Housiaux said that he was still torn about whether or not community service should be required for Andover students. “I think that there is a way that we learn by doing, and we learn to be benevolent human beings in doing community service. I also think that I could start doing something with a lousy motivation, and learn to love it,” he said. “Ultimately though, I think service should be volunteer. I don’t think we can mandate people to do service.” Kate Weiner ’11 said, “I support the required Non Sibi Day at Andover that exposes the community to service. What students choose to do from there though should not be required.” She said that ideally Non Sibi Day would not have to be required either. Liang said, “It is counterintuitive that we are so self-content with one day of school service and the school broadcasts this one day on the Internet. I think the publicity detracts from the idea of Non Sibi.” David Fox, Instructor in English and Art History, said, “I think that the congratulatory nature of Non Sibi Day is what undermines it. A true act is what you do when no one is watching, so why is it necessary to post Non Sibi Day on the website and discuss our projects in All School meeting?” “I think everyone does service for different reasons. I think some are passionate about social justice work and others are interested in building community. There are also plenty of students that only participate to write it on college essays and applications,” she said. “Non Sibi Day: Why Bother?” is the first of a series of forums held to discuss community service at Andover. Lender said that the Community Service Office hopes to hold two more discussions of this nature.