CSU Students Give Back to Their Communities

(April 17, 2003) -- The common picture of college students is that they are spending their spring break partying at the beach. Well, California has plenty of fine beaches, but that's not where many California State University students are. Instead, they are helping out in their communities.

Each year, more than 151,000 CSU students take part in community service, contributing some 35 million hours of labor. Their contributions take in a variety of areas, including education (such as tutoring), health and social services. More than 51,000 (or about 1 in 8) CSU students are taking academic courses that include service learning. In fact, more than 1,600 service- learning courses are offered at the CSU campuses.

What sort of service learning are students involved in? Look at this:

  • At CSU Bakersfield, students first learn about healthy, cancer-preventing diets and teach that in the community, including how to create healthy meals (samples provided).
  • At CSU Channel Islands, the newest CSU campus, art students will work with community organizations to develop public art projects.
  • At CSU Chico, students proposed, developed, and got posted warning signs for hazardous parts of nearby Butte Creek and also developed a public awareness campaign.
  • At CSU Dominguez Hills, computer science students showed Boys and Girls Club members how to navigate the Internet and plan to teach them to use media production tools.
  • At CSU Fresno, students work with Jumpstart for Children which includes a preschool reading program.
  • At CSU Fullerton, science students teach high schoolers how to take soil and water samples using proper protective gear and sampling techniques.
  • At CSU Hayward, psychology students have researched transfer student satisfaction with an eye to improving future campus and community college programs.
  • At Humboldt State, communications students led training sessions on topics like team building and conflict management to help such organizations as Big Brothers and Big Sister run more effectively.
  • At CSU Long Beach, linguistics students aided the national Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders program to help older learners gain English fluency and a useful knowledge of naturalization law.
  • At Cal State L.A., engineering students met with local middle and high school students to engage in engineering projects "hands on."
  • At the Maritime Academy, students interviewed local veterans to preserve oral history for the families and future generations while developing their own interview and writing skills.
  • At CSU Monterey Bay, earth sciences students, under the Garden of Learning Project, helped K-12 students and teachers maintain organic greenhouses as part of a program to lead farm workers into farm ownership.
  • At CSU Northridge, biology students designed hands-on science lessons for visiting 7th graders as part of a campus afterschool program, Tomorrow's Scientists.
  • At Cal Poly Pomona, students at Gift of Reading and Gift of Math days shared games and books with local children, which the children took with them after the event.
  • At CSU Sacramento, students are helping local nonprofits analyze their operations, working at the Sacramento Zoo, and supporting the Sacramento Children's Home.
  • At CSU San Bernardino, students are providing hot lunches at area community centers while evaluating how to better prepare and deliver food.
  • At San Diego State, students took part in the Alternative Spring Break to travel to Costa Rica where they participated in a range of civic engagement programs at local schools, civic centers, and a banana plantation.
  • At San Francisco State, web design students helped community and small business organizations get their websites up and running.
  • At San Jose State, environmental students worked with the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition to inform residents about a proposed area energy plant.
  • At Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, students helped senior citizens in setting ranging from a day center for Alzheimers patients to a retirement community of low-income seniors, to private homes where seniors rely on "meals on wheels."
  • At Cal State San Marcos, students organized a Civic Fair for the city of Escondido which provided a host of health, education and cultural information to fair-goers.
  • At Sonoma State, history students prepared a simulation of Ellis Island for middle school students and teachers.
  • At CSU Stanislaus, communications students worked with local chapters of the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association on media campaigns, fund-raising events, and educational programs.

"Community service and service learning are exactly what the CSU is all about. CSU students regularly use their education to contribute positively to the California communities," said Erika Randall, director of Community Service Learning in the Chancellor's Office.

Throughout their history, the campuses of the CSU have been volunteering in and partnering with organizations in their local communities to serve the needs of California's citizens. During the last decade, the CSU has made a committed, systematic effort to increase the effectiveness of the programs and to open to all students the opportunities to serve. A strategic plan was developed, a coordinating office at the system level was created, and trustees adopted a resolution calling for each campus to provide all of its students with the opportunity to take part in community service outside of their classes or service learning in their classes. In fact, CSU Monterey Bay requires all graduating students to have taken part in service-learning.

As part of the promotional work, each year, students from every campus are honored for their service under the STARS (Students That Are Recognized for Service) program. More about the STARS program and briefs on the campus winners can be found at here.

The systemwide office of Community Service Learning (562-951-4749) has a website at www.calstate.edu/csl/. There you can find a variety of information, including the most recent annual report on Community Service Learning in the CSU.

Contact: Clara Potes-Fellow (562) 951-4806 cpotes-fellow@calstate.edu
Or Erika Randall (562) 951-4773 erandall@calstate.edu

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Last Updated: 17 April 2003

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