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Students Pledge One Million Hours of Service

Contributing to the Campaign for BU

| From BU Today | By Amy Laskowski | Video by BU Productions

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In the video above, BU students pledge to complete one million hours of community service as their donation to the Campaign for Boston University. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Students looking at the millions of dollars already raised for the Campaign for Boston University may feel they have little to contribute to such a monumental endeavor. But the BU community has always been generous about helping others, and students can now play a vital role in the University’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, whose goal is to support students and faculty, fund research, maintain and improve facilities, and support special programs.

The BU student body has pledged to complete one million hours of community service as their donation to the campaign. The announcement was made at the Celebration of BU, the public kickoff of the campaign, on September 22.

“What makes us great as a campus is our altruistic nature,” says Dexter McCoy (COM’14), Student Government president. “We love having Boston as our campus. By giving back to the community, we will make it clear that we appreciate what we get from the University. We want to give a lot back, and we want to give service.”

Included in the tally will be hours of service dating from fall 2011 through the campaign’s conclusion in 2017. (Last year’s hours are included to reflect the campaign’s unofficial “quiet” period, which began about two years ago.) So far, approximately 110,000 hours have been donated.

Students who want to enter their hours need to go to the Million Hours website and fill out a form with information that includes their name, the affiliated organization or event, and the number of hours they’ve contributed. The mobile-friendly site, created by Boston University Interactive Design, tallies the contributions and displays the running amount in large numbers.

“It’s very simple to log your hours in,” says Katherine Hasenauer Cornetta, assistant to the dean of students. “It’s supposed to be done on the fly. Don’t worry about tallying them by hand; instead enter them into the website on the T ride home. Just don’t text and drive.”

Student volunteers clean up the banks of the Charles River during last year’s Global Day of Service. Photo by Cydney Scott

Students can include any type of service, says Community Service Center (CSC) events manager Alison Weltman (COM’13), whether it’s volunteer work done through the First-Year Student Outreach Project (FYSOP), BU’s annual Global Day of Service, Alternative Spring Break, or service performed in conjunction with any of the University’s fraternities and sororities, religious groups, and clubs. “There are tons of service opportunities out there that connect BU students with the community,” she says.

The CSC will be a leader in this effort. Last year 4,500 volunteers participated in 13 programs and one-time events through the center, completing 130,000 hours of service. The Dean of Students office has also been instrumental in launching the effort, according to Weltman and McCoy.

McCoy says that part of the inspiration for the idea came from a student initiative commemorating the inauguration of President Robert A. Brown in 2006. Jonathan Marker (CAS’07), then Student Union president, pledged one hour of community service for each undergraduate student—17,000 hours in total—as a gift to Brown, a goal that was exceeded by several thousand hours.

This time around, the same emphasis is being placed on getting 100 percent participation from students, McCoy says, noting that it isn’t even necessary for a student to volunteer with a group to be counted. Anyone who spends time working with an outside nonprofit, tutoring, or helping a frail neighbor with errands and shoveling can contribute their hours.

“This generous act on the part of our students is as creative as it is unprecedented,” says Scott Nichols, BU’s senior vice president for development & alumni relations. “It’s exciting to think of how much the world will be changed for the better as a result of this wonderful gesture.”

More than $420 million has been raised toward the $1 billion goal set by the campaign. University trustees and overseers have contributed $130 million of the money raised so far.

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