In the spirit of full disclosure, let me begin by saying I am a huge advocate of volunteering. I think, more often than not, the volunteers get more out of their work than the group they are volunteering for does. That's why my ears perked up when I heard a state legislator would like to require volunteer work from people pursuing their bachelor's degrees.
The bill has an emotional tag; the program would be named for Eve Carson and Abajhit Mahato. Carson was the student body president at UNC before she was fatally shot in March. Mahato was a grad student at Duke who was murdered in January. Memorializing them through a volunteer requirement would be an amazing lasting tribute.
But is it a good idea?
Sen. Tony Rand is specific with how he believes college students should volunteer. He proposes they spend 20 hours per semester mentoring and tutoring a public school-age child. Rand said the program would help at-risk youth because college students are particularly qualified to set an example for children.
There's no doubt our communities need more mentors. But is every college student cut out to be one? The ECU Volunteer and Service Learning Center sets students up with an incredible variety of volunteer projects.
What about students who are pursuing degrees who have jobs and/or families? Should they find 20 hours to mentor, too?
I hope you have more questions and thoughts about this proposed program. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on this well-intentioned bill.