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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Student Union Clubs in Service Initiative underway

Published: February 6, 2009
Section: News

The Clubs in Service Initiative, a joint project of the Student Union and the Waltham group in which clubs participate in community service projects, held their first informational meeting on Monday.

Following Student Union President Jason Gray’s (’10) call to action in his state of the Union address at the end of the Fall ’08 semester, the Waltham Group Budget and Steering Committee, Director of Community Service Lucas Malo, and Class of 2012 Senator Akash Vadalia, hosted the leaders and community service coordinators of approximately ten student groups.

Waltham group presented club leaders with a list of five programs that Waltham Group currently runs. Clubs were invited to share their talents and interests in an ongoing capacity with elementary school aged participants of Junior Brandeis Achievers at the Stanley School, or work with developmentally disabled adults in Brandeis Buddies. Participants in the Waltham Group programs are transported to campus where the clubs can easily work with participants. No additional funding is really needed, as the clubs are the resources, the members are the teachers. Malo emphasized the importance of such a program, “ [Waltham] is our home too.”

For those clubs seeking a smaller commitment, there will also be an option to take on single, day long, projects. In the wake of the national economic crisis, the Waltham Group has experienced an upswing in requests for volunteers, and a listserv has been established to forward these one-time commitments from the Waltham community to the clubs. “ This will give clubs to opportunity share their interests with the community and get outside the Brandeis bubble,” said Budget and Steering Committee member Anne Blackstock-Bernstein (’11).

Additionally, clubs interested in seeking out their own service opportunities are welcome to do so. Vadalia hopes to track clubs’ participation and make the whole initiative an integral part of club life at Brandeis. “We hope to eventually make this a requirement for all clubs,” said Vadalia. With the 250+ clubs on campus, he hopes to get at least 15 clubs involved this semester. Vadalia said he was not aware of any other campuses with similar initiatives.

Several clubs, beyond those that were represented at Monday’s meeting, have already taken interest in participating.

The initiative is also a good team building tools for clubs and a way for them to get off campus and view themselves through a different lens.

The initiative is a result of a conversation that took place between Malo and Gray. After looking at the results of the entrance and exit surveys of the past few graduating classes, it became apparent that students were not participating in community service to the same degree they had in high school. He attributed this to students applying to various service programs and not getting in. Malo sees this initiative as a way to rectify that trend as students can participate via other clubs saying, “this is an opportunity to allow every Brandeis student to be engaged in the community, on campus or off. ”

If you would like more information on the initiative or would like to get your club involved, contact: Anne Blackstock-Bernstein at, Jessica Gottsegen at, Carlen Dimichele at or Akash Vadalia at