Are We Doing Enough?

Sarah Touey, ’18 Marketing and Finance, JUHAN Fellow, Le Moyne College

March 10, 2017

Founded on the Jesuit principles of men and women for others, Le Moyne College (Syracuse, New York) encourages all students to be “dolphins” engaged in volunteer efforts. Boosting collaborative partnerships with over twenty community organizations, Le Moyne serves a variety of needs from skills-based volunteering to academic enrichment. At the helm of these efforts is Fr. Bill Dolan, S.J. and his team of students and fellow Campus Ministry staff who help plan and prepare for weekly volunteer opportunities and DIVE (Dolphins in Volunteer Efforts) along with coordinating sites and transportation for Community-Based Work Study. Our weekly volunteer opportunities often consist of dinners being served at the local Rescue Mission on Saturday evenings. DIVE - held once a semester - gathers students, faculty, staff, and alumni who do not normally participate in Saturday’s events to go out to our community partners and give three hours of their time. Finally, our community-based work study program sends students to a vast array of organizations throughout Syracuse for tutoring, writing grant proposals, accounting, educating, and organizing efforts. Out of the Office of Campus Ministry comes many resources and initiatives that strive to keep all Dolphins engaged and active.

The question remains, though, how active is the Le Moyne College community? Are we building capacity, utilizing new methods to raise funds and awareness for these community organizations or are we stuck in a rut of doing the same thing? Are we expanding to other organizations?

As a student, I’m impressed by the same individuals who give countless hours of their time to serve those in the community that need support. Within hours of an event occurring, dolphins are protesting, using Social Media to convey a voice, or driving down to the organization(s) to help with hands-on efforts. At the same time, though, I’m concerned about how deep some of our partnerships run and how much our students are educated on the work they do. Sitting in a meeting, a few weeks ago about ways to aid with the recent refugee ban, I was impressed by the way that faculty’s opinions dominate conversations and affect who and where we work. In the city of Syracuse, we have approximately three organizations that work to resettle refugees and be advocates for those resettled during the early stages of their journey in the United States. Le Moyne has strong connections with two of these organizations, while the third is based more on the individual. When I mentioned this third organization, it appeared to be irrelevant because it was not as well known as the other two organizations in their efforts to provide support and advocate. Dialogues like these occur often throughout Le Moyne, where students are brought in but not fully engaged or educated.

While, Le Moyne strives to be a constant partner for any community organization, strong ties, and history often decide where we choose to place our efforts. Limitation has become quite the theme, I’ve encountered during my time at Le Moyne especially as the Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network (JUHAN) Fellow. Working with eight other colleges/universities, it is always interesting to me to hear how they are engaging with each other and the community. New ideas and partnerships seem a constant at these schools as new events occur that change how we must react. How do you make their work meaningful? In conclusion, I’m curious what your thoughts are. What do we do? How does your school incorporate service and partnership into the same principle?

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