Alex Epstein Weighs In On Community Service

Question: Should community service be a requirement in high schools?

Epstein:    I don’t think, I don’t like the word requirement really in itself and I don’t think that’s something like and I don’t really like the word community service that much either because I think it comes with the stigma of it’s a requirement to a lot of students and so it doesn’t seem like something that’s very meaningful important issues like something that you have to do in order to graduate so, but I do think that there needs to be some sort of requirement in some sense because a lot of people otherwise wouldn’t get involve but it needs to engage to the students.  A lot of places where schools have students doing volunteer work.  It’s mindless work.  They don’t have to think they go and they sit in office and they file papers for however many hours they have to do it.  In a minute that they get to the last hour of their commitment, they’re out, they’re done, they’re happy.  And you know, that’s okay but it’s really, it’s doing nothing to build the movement and it’s not engaging the students at all so if anything that really turns them away from wanting to get involve with things like this in the future, so I think that you know, students should be given an opportunity to choose what issues they want to work on and that’s why we always have the forms and workshops about student leadership so that they can learn that historically students have been a huge part of every single movement that this country and this world has ever had.  It’s not really told in our textbooks very much you know, it’s not really taught to us in school that that’s a fact but it really is and I think when students see that in the past students have been so powerful in movements in creating social change, they’re more likely to stay involve with it now and especially if they’re working within their communities or communities right near them on combating issues that directly affect them.  I don’t see any reason why wouldn’t kind of hook on to somebody you know, there are plenty people who will fade off and you know, this type of stuff isn’t for them and that’s you know, that’s fine, that’s everybody’s personal choice but you know we’ve seen that the more that we link these issues to our communities, the more people stay involved and stay invigorated and want to continue to do work.

The organizer says the mindless forms of volunteering should be eliminated from high school curricula.

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