While Grand Valley State University celebrates its 50th anniversary, university President Thomas J. Haas has issued a challenge to all students, faculty and staff members.
The President’s 50 Hour Service Challenge invites and encourages all participants to complete 50 hours of service to the community. The challenge began earlier this fall and will end on April 1. All participants who complete the full 50 hours will receive an invitation to a ceremony.
Currently, 445 students, faculty and staff members have contributed a total of 6667.5 hours logged with 117 nonprofit organizations. A graduate student currently leads the challenge with 159.5 hours logged at this point, said Olubunmi Fadase, coordinator at the GVSU Community Service Learning Center.
Services to the broader community that occur off campus are encouraged, but some on-campus activities will count toward the hours as well. The activities largely focus on addressing a community-based issue or problem, contributions to the public good and meeting the needs in the surrounding community to contribute to civic life.
Fadase said participation amongst students, faculty and staff has helped in celebrating the 50th anniversary.
“The overall goal of this challenge is to ignite a spirit of service with friendly competition amongst our campus to honor and commemorate GVSU’s 50th anniversary,” she said. “Faculty, staff and students have really adopted this challenge in honor of GVSU’s founding and made it their own.”
Activities include direct service, fundraising, philanthropy, education, awareness and advocacy and public professional service.
Haas said he is actively campaigning to draw more volunteers while participating in the challenge.
“I think there’s nothing better than being able to take our talents and use them in the service of others,” Haas said. “Reconnecting with our communities and showing them that Grand Valley is much more than a school, that it’s a network of caring people—that’s what’s important.”
GVSU Student Senate President Jarrett Martus agreed that being visible by taking the challenge was important in making a name for the university.
“We have been spreading the goals of the challenge by word of mouth and through publications,” Martus said. “(Taking the challenge) is a good way to be recognized and to show off, as a university, what we have been doing and have accomplished.”
Participants can log the 50 hours online by using the volunteer tracker system. Service-learning classes and internships can also be used toward the 50 hours, as well as hours spent training or preparing to be able to serve.
A multitude of on-campus service opportunities also can be used toward the 50 hours. Giving blood at an on-campus blood drive, philanthropy projects like Relay for Life and the Dance Marathon, where goods are directly donated to community based organizations, educating and awareness-raising events, series such as the Vagina Monologues and Rock Against Rap, and cultural or diversity exchanges like the Intercultural Fest all can contribute to the 50 hours.
CSLC matches students interested in community service with a place or event that meets their interests. The CSLC also stresses the need and importance for students and faculty to take the challenge to heart to highlight GVSU’s caring attitude and the impact made around local communities.
“Service is one of GVSU’s seven values around which our 2010-15 strategic plan is built,” Fadase said. “Students and faculty can take pride in participating in something bigger than themselves-challenging themselves to serve 50 hours to their communities and honor the university’s founding year at the same time.”
The 50 hours also helps to dispel the stereotype of not being engaged within the Allendale and Grand Rapids communities, something Haas actively is working to promote.
“There are a number of beneficial activities to partake in,” he said. “It’s a great chance for Grand Valley students, faculty and staff members to be visible and partake in the chances to benefit our community.”