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Academic Service Learning
California's Call to Service

Community Based Organization Responses

To October 21st Questionnaire on

Governor’s Proposed Service Requirement

Key:

Questions are in italics

General synopsis/executive summary is in bold

Specific comments and quotes in regular print.

Only direct quotes are in quotations. Other comments are summaries.

How many short-term volunteers can your agency realistically manage?

Some agencies answered as to how many general volunteers they could use. Some answered as to how many college student volunteers they could use. Average of 96. N=12. Range was 2 to 500.

Is there adequate staffing to screen, orient, train, supervise and report back on the high volume of community service students that would likely result from this type of service mandate?

Generally, agencies reported that there was not adequate staffing to monitor the number and type of student volunteers resulting from a service mandate. Negative responses totaled 8. Affirmative responses totaled 4.

  • No, lack of funding. A full-time staff must oversee program (like the one proposed.)

  • Currently, yes, but funding varies from year to year.

  • "No, inadequate staff for training, supervision. Nature of work could cause potential confidentiality conflicts."

  • Currently screen every volunteer, so mechanisms are already in place.

  • "No, but that has never stopped us in the past."

  • "Not at this time. … need a coordinator of volunteers."

Can you provide academically relevant service assignments while limiting the amount of clerical duties college students would have to perform?

Most agencies stated that they can (and do) provide academically relevant service opportunities. However, there was concern about length of service and the staffing needed to develop and supervise these types of opportunities. Affirmative responses totaled 10. Negative responses totaled 2.

  • No, confidentiality policies limit types of services volunteers can provide.

  • "Yes. The key would be to match student level of competence with agency needs."

  • Yes, but only with appropriate staffing.

  • Depends on the number of students and the length of service.

  • Yes, but limited.

Will limiting volunteer opportunities to academically related activities have an impact on the total number of students you can place within your agency?

There was a mixed reaction to this question. My subjective appraisal is that most agencies do not completely understand the many ways students can gain academically related service experiences that also facilitate agency operations and goals.

  • Yes, limiting opportunities will negatively effect the service to youth.

  • Yes. Restrictions against clerical duties would limit opportunities.

  • Yes. Could place 20 to 30 people (instead of 50) is placements were limited to academically relevant volunteer work.

  • "The bigger barrier is the short service term and the link to the academic year. If some work could be done over the break and in summer, a better match could be made."

How would your organization deal with screening of potential students, including possible requirements such as fingerprinting or Department of Justice screening?

For those agencies where formal screening (fingerprinting and DOJ screening) is needed, the increased number of volunteers could prove to be a significant issue. However, for some this did not seem to be a critical issue.

  • If mandated, processing assistance would be needed.

  • "No funds to do this!!"

  • Same as now — there is a 1 — 2 month screening process before volunteers can do anything.

  • Students would have to pay for the processing.

  • "We do not have the financial resources necessary."

  • We would have difficulty financing screening. We would look for other alternatives.

  • Currently do screening and would use same procedures.

What mechanisms are currently or can be put in place to deal with the many potential risk management and liability issues that must be addressed?

Again, this seemed to lead to concerns about availability of staff to adequately screen, train and supervise volunteers. For some agencies, this is not an issue.

  • Would need better orientation and closer supervision (more staff)

  • Once they complete current screening process, volunteers are covered.

  • All volunteers are covered by the corporate insurance policy.

  • "A significant increase in the number of student (volunteers) would require us to purchase additional coverage which we do not have the financial resources for."

What type of support would your organization need from Fresno State in order to adequately manage this potential volunteer pool?

The support local agencies would need all have significant resource implications for the university. Many of these support mechanisms are realistic to some degree, however, increased staffing would be required.

  • Networked, centralized website of volunteer agencies and their needs.

  • "Assurance that the students would be "willing" to help in a positive manner and would follow through the entire semester or time period."

  • "Well screened volunteers. Basic training in threshold behaviors."

  • "Initial screening of students."

  • "Early identification of students — electronic applications — fingerprinting. The pool would definitely have to be limited for our purposes."

  • Would need university to provide fingerprinting and DOJ screening if this was expected of students.

  • Student information form. Training modules — ongoing. Supervision of student work.

  • "The excellent support that Chris Fiorentino continues to provide — exposure." (His words, not mine! cf)

  • Database management.

Overall, are you in favor of the Governor’s plan to require student participation in community service?

While there is great support for increasing student involvement in service, there is little support for a graduation mandate. Those not in favor of a mandate numbered about 6, with only 3 fully supporting a mandate.

  • "Not in favor. I feel students should choose!"

  • "Noble idea, but don’t think there will be much of a long term effect on society at large."

  • "The idea is great but the "Mandatory" emphasis is not conducive to "happy, willing" volunteers."

  • "Yes, I recognize the need to develop a strong sense of community responsibility within the young and old."

  • "Yes!!! However, the word "mandate" needs to be addressed."

  • "Yes, it should be voluntary not mandated." (A rather contradictory response. cf)

  • "I like the goal of developing a service mentality in our youth. I do not think this can be accomplished by mandating service. I think a statewide campaign encouraging service would be helpful as well as offering service projects to the K-12 as well as college age children. More opportunities, better publicity for voluntary service."

  • "We are interested in increased volunteer participation on the part of CSUF students. However, mandated participation would require more staff supervision than what we have."

  • "I am not in favor (in fact strongly oppose) any mandated community service for university students. The whole idea "eats away" at the heart of the service ethic. I like the Governor and generally support his agenda, but I believe this is a bad "ivory tower" decision on his part."

  • "No I’m not in favor."

  • "We are in favor, however, the word "mandate" casts a negative shadow over the term volunteerism. Maybe use another term!!"

  • "I think I like the idea of the "mandate" being a part of their requirements within each course (major) — mandate the university is what I am trying to say."
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Last Updated: April 29, 2008