Why is it that many groups of students each Campus Day spend time cleaning the college grounds or President Byrd’s lawn?
Don’t we have a Campus Services staff already assigned to these duties, and wouldn’t students’ time be better spent serving the need within the Indianola or greater Des Moines community?
The Friday after Campus Day, that’s the discussion I had with classmates who expressed frustration at being assigned to pick up fallen sticks on fraternity row or mulch Byrd’s house on Simpson’s traditional day of service. It’s a discussion that Rich Ramos, assistant dean of students, says he hears each year.
As the adviser of the Student Government Association (SGA) – the group charged with planning Campus Day – Ramos has heard all the arguments from those who say the service should be directed off-campus.
What many don’t realize, however, Ramos said, is that over the past five years, there’s been an increasingly greater effort to find service projects for groups within the Indianola community. Historically, he said, the very nature of Campus Day was to complete projects on the campus itself.
“It was to do campus projects,” Ramos said. “Whether you’re writing a check to the institution or not, it’s about giving back to the campus.”
This year specifically, there was an even greater benefit to Simpson, as the on-campus service helped the grounds crew prepare for the upcoming and month-earlier graduation, Ramos said.
The college itself acknowledged on its website that while some of the 600 students who participated in Campus Day completed service at places such as Camp Wesley Woods and cleaned highways, most of the service was directed on campus.
As a member of the Simpson community, I couldn’t agree more that all students have a duty to give back to campus, and I understand that Campus Day has traditionally been the one of the main outlets for that service.
However, after hearing from students who felt their time could be better directed, there’s a valid argument to be made that perhaps it’s time to stretch Campus Day even further into the community. In a time when the college is driving to develop a strong brand, there’s a great statement that could be made by stretching service throughout the greater Des Moines area.
The beauty of this move is that it’s all up to us.
As groups sign up for Campus Day, Ramos said, the SGA organizing has always been accommodating if a group has a specific project they’d like to work on. This year, Simpson’s Religious Life Community organized its own painting project at the Chapel of Faith in Indianola.
The simple fact is that SGA has its hands already full in preparing for all the events that surround Campus Day – I know, I’ve seen it firsthand as a senator. If you hope to benefit the off campus-community during next year’s Campus Day, talk with your group or friends to develop your own original project.
That being said, I hope that Campus Day organizers continue the trend seen over the past few years of developing more off-campus projects, furthering the message that Simpson is strongly invested in serving the community.
Grant is a junior multimedia journalism major and the perspectives editor for the Simpsonian. He is a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity.