As a Business 200 Student Advisor one of the critiques of Business 200 we often face is students feel that by requiring them to serve we are undermining the principles of service. The term “forced service” or “forced volunteering” is often offered up as an alternative by the student. Students often feel that by requiring them to serve it takes away from the purpose and genuine act of service. They often feel as they already pay close to $30,000 dollars a year for tuition, they should not be required to give their time away for free. In some cases they fail to see any practical potential application of their business skills or links between for profits and non profits.
In most professions, situations of conflicting views with a customer (or a student in our case) are often dreaded and the low points of an employee’s day. When I first started out working in Business 200 it was. I did not want to deal with students who disagreed with our policy. It wasn’t fun, it was stressful and truthfully I often found myself deep down questioning if we could inspire a student to genuinely participate, enjoy and learn from service if they feel we forced them to serve. However, miraculously after my first semester with Business 200 things changed and these dreaded low points became the highlights of my day.
Why have my views changed so drastically you may ask? Well it is not because I have a new found passion for arguing or that I have become acclimated to the conflict. I could say it was because of the effects of service learning and use this as an opportunity to site a multitude of statistics and academic studies I have read discussing the benefit of service learning in an undergraduate program. Truthfully however by doing so all I would be doing is constructing a good academic argument in support of Business 200. When it comes down to it, this drastic change is due to those same students who at the beginning of their service were questioning the purpose and validity of Business 200.
Now I should clarify it is not every single one of those students, but it is the astounding number of them who have shown up to their final meetings and seminars with drastically different viewpoints from when they began. They have discovered the purpose of service learning and in doing so they have shown me that even the most reluctant of students can take something out of Business 200. Not only have they allowed Business 200 to inspire them, they have inspired me to inspire others. When faced with these situations of conflicting viewpoints I now remind myself of the students who question the purpose of this course at the beginning of their service are often the ones who find the purpose of it through service.
By: Justin Lind, BUSN200 Student Coordinator