Required service reaps rewards
Campus clubs require members get involved
At Grand Valley State University, many campus clubs are active in the community and on campus with volunteering and service activities. Some organizations stipulate that their members participate in a required number of service hours, while others don’t have this requirement.
“There is no (official) service hour requirement for student organizations,” said Shannon Riffel, service consultant at the GVSU Community Service Learning Center. “Organizations may choose to incorporate service hour requirements as a facet of their organization. Club sports and honors societies often require an element of service.”
Tim Layer, vice president of the campus affairs committee on Student Senate, said Senate isn’t involved in the clubs’ setting a number of required hours, but being a part of a fraternity and a club sport, he has to complete certain required hours.
In his fraternity, Delta Upsilon, Layer is required to complete 15 hours of community service per semester. If these hours are not completed, members are given a strike and are charged an $8-per-uncompleted-hour-fee that is donated to a charity, according to the chapter’s code of conduct.
Amelia Parenteau, alumni communications chair and house manager of Delta Zeta, said that her sorority requires that members also complete 15 community service hours a semester along with $37.50 of monetary donations.
“Almost every Greek organization has community service hours, however I’m not sure how much they are,” she said.
Layer added that he also has to complete required community service hours as part of the Swim and Dive Club. The requirement for the club is that members “must complete a minimum of one community service, outreach, or volunteer project per academic year,” according to the GVSU club sports tier system.
The CSLC provides resources for student organizations to utilize when they are in search of service opportunities.
“Nonprofits and other organizations of the Grand Rapids area submit volunteer opportunities to our office, and we post those opportunities to the CSLC website on their behalf in order to attempt to pull in as many volunteers for either a specific event or an ongoing opportunity hosted by that organization or non-profit,” Riffel said.
One such opportunity that GVSU clubs have been involved with in the Grand Rapids area is the John Ball Zoo’s Halloween event “Zoo Goes Boo.”
“Zoo Goes Boo is an event specific opportunity that has been submitted to the Community Service Learning Center through our resources available to local non-profits and organizations,” Riffel said. “We posted that opportunity on our site for students and student organizations to review and volunteer if it is something of their interest.”
In the past, many clubs have volunteered at the event, including the Renaissance Club, the Quidditch Team, the Swing Dance Club, Sigma Alpha Lambda, and many others, said Kristen Embler, guest program assistant coordinator for the John Ball Zoo.
“In the past and this year, clubs have helped with handing out treats, facilitating crafts and activities, greeting guests, and performing in costume and character for our guests,” Embler said.
Zoo Goes Boo is a seven-day event that began in 1992 and has evolved over the years. Embler said that over 10,000 people attend the event and several clubs have already asked to volunteer for this year.
“It has always been our mission to give the Grand Rapids area a fun and family-friendly Halloween event,” Embler said.
She is hoping to have up to 20 organizations send volunteers, because they need about 40 to 50 volunteers per day. Clubs are requested to pre-register for the event no later than Oct. 14 to volunteer.
“We’d love to get more groups and more or new organizations who are looking for more opportunities to get their name out there in a family-friendly event,” she said.
Embler said that volunteering at the event not only gives students the chance to complete required service hours for the clubs they’re in, but also to give their club more exposure.
“We have over 10,000 people attend the event over seven days so it gives organizations a chance to interact with families and kids of all different backgrounds,” Embler said. “Not only can volunteers count the hours toward their organization’s requirements but the event also provides an awesome teambuilding experience—we can’t think of a better way to get to know fellow GV students than working together to help kids through the straw maze or sharing a laugh while dressing up as a Halloween themed mascot. Zoo Goes Boo is a unique and rewarding event to get involved with—and it’s a lot of fun.”