After a summer spent closely examining programs and brainstorming improvements, the Community Service Office has made important and necessary changes to its system.
This year’s changes include required orientation meetings to better prepare volunteers for their work, stricter limits on overcrowded projects, required adult supervision for each program and a streamlined sign-up system that displayed in real-time whether programs had reached their respective limits.
These changes will undoubtedly improve the quality of community service at Andover for both students and our community partners. Nevertheless, it is still problematic that the number of service opportunities available is far less than the size of Andover’s student body. This fall, 521 spots were allocated for over 1,100 students. All of these were quickly filled. Unfortunately, the current system is the only model that could be sustained under the given circumstances.
First and foremost, Andover’s class schedule does not give the Community Service Office enough flexibility in scheduling service programs. The majority of service programs in Lawrence take place immediately following the school day. However, because these programs take place earlier in the afternoon, Wednesday is the only day when most Andover students can partake in off-campus service programs. This severely limits the number of programs available for Andover students to join, especially for those with athletic games on Wednesday. Furthermore, even for other community service programs that take place after the usual three o’clock end of the school, the current schedule forces students to choose between athletic and community service commitments.
A radical change to the structure of community service programs or Andover’s current schedule cannot happen overnight. Community service expansion is limited not only by scheduling, but also by a lack of funding and manpower. To date, there are only three adults employed to manage and supervise Andover’s entire community service program. Other faculty members are not required nor are they directly compensated for supervising service projects.
Currently, the Office does a great job providing a variety of meaningful projects with its available resources. Nevertheless, Andover is still ultimately failing to uphold its most central maxim of “Non Sibi.” While it is apparent that accommodating over 1,100 students in programs while keeping them safe and effective is difficult, Andover must allocate more funding and energy to its community service programs in order to give all students the opportunity to participate.
This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXVI.