Volunteer chances at NU plenty but decentralized

Sarah Halasz

As National Volunteer Week comes to an end today, some studentsand administrators say NU’s service groups should work together toattract more students to volunteerism.

NU has a plethora of volunteer opportunities, said Scott Wolf,executive co-chairman of Northwestern Community Development Corps.Fraternities, sororities, religious groups, athletic teams, studentgroups and individuals offer a wide range of service opportunities– from tutoring at local schools to park clean-ups and largefund-raisers.

But Wolf said he thinks it’s hard for students to learn of theseopportunities because small groups have trouble publicizing theirevents and NU doesn’t have a centralized volunteering program.

“Everyone wants to volunteer,” said Wolf, an Education junior.”(The efforts) just need to be more unified.”

Wolf said campuswide volunteer efforts could be expanded ifadministrators publicizing service opportunities to incomingfreshmen and prospective students.

“The administration says they’re committed to community service,but they don’t really show it,” he said.

But Lucile Krasnow, NU’s special assistant for communityrelations, said volunteering sometimes goes unnoticed becausepeople decide to help out on their own.

“With the volunteering that goes on in the community, thedecibel is much lower,” Krasnow said. “(That) doesn’t mean thatthere isn’t a tremendous amount of volunteering going on. It’s justnot consolidated — it’s rather fractured.”

Although she fully supports a move to combine the efforts ofcampus groups, Krasnow said student organizations must discussworking together before administrators can act.

Administrators have already taken one step toward opening upservice to students. At least 350 students have registered to usethe Community Action Search Engine, accessible through HereAndNow,said NU’s student community services coordinator Michele Capio.

The search engine allows students, community members and cityorganizations to search for volunteer sites in and around Evanston,but Wolf said not enough students know about it.

Because volunteerism is very “segmented” among different groups,Capio said and the larger, more centralized philanthropic efforts,such Dance Marathon and Suitcase Party, overshadow smallergroups.

“The university has its own culture, its own tradition,” Capiosaid. “Philanthropy is a tradition on this campus. We want(community service) to become a tradition.”

But Wolf said events that focus on money raising frequently getmore attention than volunteer efforts at NU and are not highlightedenough during prospective student programs, such as campustours.

“DM is a great event, but why not say, ‘We have greatphilanthropy and great volunteer opportunities'” on the tours, Wolfsaid.

DM and Suitcase Party leaders said they too have been trying tofocus more on volunteering. Next year’s DM participants will berequired to clock a specific number of volunteer hours with thebeneficiary, said DM co-chairwoman Margot Bonner, a Weinbergjunior.

Students who want their group featured in tours should eithercontact the admissions office or apply to be guides, said campustour leader Victor Limjoco.

“A lot of the tour guides … are involved with Dance Marathon,”said Limjoco, a Medill senior. “It’s going to be easier for tourguides to talk about what they know.”