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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Bursting the bubble one hall at a time

Published: September 12, 2008
Section: Opinions

This week, the Waltham City Council complained about off-campus students disrespecting the neighborhoods they lived in. However, that may change with the creation of Partners for Civic Engagement, a living environment for students dedicated to community service. Located on Gordon 2 and comprised of 27 first-years, PCE aims to foster a new generation of students capable of creating tangible change off-campus.

Through their direct involvement with Waltham residents, the students seek to understand their concerns and use their access to university resources to better the community.

PCE is a good step towards bursting the Brandeis bubble and giving students a more in-depth picture of the city where we actually live. For many, Waltham is just a place they occasionally venture into to buy groceries or grab dinner. Students in the Community Engaged Learning program, on the other hand, see Waltham as a place to invest time and resources. Bringing together new students with a shared passion for community service and giving them resources to make their ideas happen seems like a promising formula for success.

PCE will also strengthen internal connections within the Brandeis community, drawing upon the expertise of Residence Life staff, faculty and student organizations in order to create a strong and effective program where first-years can develop their interest in community service. Moreover, the program will make essential resources more easily accessible to students as they pursue their project goals.

While at first glance it may seem that this program will isolate PCE participants from the rest of the Brandeis community, it may actually have the long-term benefit of preparing these students to pass their knowledge on to other members of the Brandeis community. Having spent an intense year focusing on community service, these first years will be prepared to share their experience and expertise with their new neighbors in their years to come at Brandeis.

Hopefully by the time this inaugural class reaches their senior year, the Waltham City Council will have a different sentiment to share about Brandeis students. Rather than being branded as the kids who leave Dartmouth Street dirty after a weekend of parties, Brandeis students will be known as the community members who get dirty cleaning up the grounds at Prospect Hill Community Learning Center.