News

Mass. State Rep. Calls on University VP to Increase Transparency for Allston Multimodal Project

News

Harvard President Lawrence Bacow Made $1.1 Million in 2020, Financial Disclosures Show

News

Harvard Executive Vice President Katie Lapp To Step Down

News

81 Republican Lawmakers File Amicus Brief Supporting SFFA in Harvard Affirmative Action Lawsuit

News

Duke Senior’s Commencement Speech Appears to Plagiarize 2014 Address by Harvard Student

Editorials

Service Should Not Be Required

Administrators are right to oppose a service requirement

By The Crimson Staff

Recently, Cornell announced the launch of a $150 million “Engaged Cornell” initiative to increase public service on campus by mandating that undergraduates take at least one course engaged in public service as a requirement for graduation. By contrast, Harvard administrators have come out against the idea of similarly requiring Harvard students to engage in service.

While we recognize the importance of public service, we support the FAS Committee’s stand against mandating public service. Requiring such activities is not the best way to foster in students a love and appreciation for service to their community. People need to take their own initiative, to get involved because they believe it is important and meaningful. Harvard is lucky in that it is in an urban area that already offers much opportunity for involvement throughout Boston and Cambridge. Moreover, there are already robust programs such as the Phillips Brooks House Association and the Institute of Politics that both work to provide many remarkable service opportunities for students.

At the same time, the Harvard administration should embrace Cornell’s innovative approach of the integration of service into academic pursuits, and should offer more courses with this structure and mindset. Many public service-minded students look for ways to integrate their work outside the classroom with their academic pursuits. Additionally, there are students who wish to study public policy and pursue careers in public service, who would greatly benefit from more academic opportunities. These efforts should work to enhance current public service programs by contributing a focus on understanding the values and issues that impact the service arena.

Harvard should also considering adding Opening Days sessions that would discuss the importance of public service and the various factors that go into such endeavors. If Harvard wishes to instill in students an appreciation for public service, it should do so when students are most open to new ideas and are already learning about Harvard’s view on the world. Past this point, Harvard should allow students to pave their own paths and embrace the endeavors about which they are most passionate. At the end of the day, Harvard is a liberal arts academic institution, and its course requirements should reflect this desire to expand students’ intellectual opportunities without unnecessarily restraining or shaping their academic passions.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags
Editorials