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Students Pledge One Million Hours of Service

Contributing to the Campaign for BU


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.) As of today, 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 amount 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.”

Boston University BU, Community Service, CSC

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 and 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.

Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

4 Comments on Students Pledge One Million Hours of Service

  • Paul on 10.03.2012 at 8:23 am

    So BU is counting hours that students participate in community service in the neighborhoods as a monetary gift to BU? Does no one see this as a moral problem? Donating time to the community should not be about monitizing it and it definitely not about me donating time to BU. I am donating to help the community. BU I using this to inflate stats about total donation as well as giving percentage. Why can’t they just have a goal of working 1 million hours? Thoroughly unclassy. No other school monetizes volunteer work. Terrible.

    • Orly? on 10.03.2012 at 10:01 am


      Would you prefer the University ask students to donate $1 million—or that they showcase a portion of the strategic plan: community outreach (see # 6: http://www.bu.edu/president/strategic-plan/point.shtml).

      If you’d like to presume money is the only thing of value, sure, this idea of allowing students to do good and have it reflected in the success of a campaign is “terrible.” After all, how dare a university recognize that the services students provide have value, when they could disregard all of that and demand $1 billion in cold, hard cash. No other university bothers to calculate the value and incorporate it into their totals! How dare BU be different?

      “I said, “Why can’t they just have a goal of working 1 million hours?'” you might retort. Because BU just launched a billion dollar campaign. 1 million hours of community service will do many amazing things, but it won’t pay for everything the campaign has set out to support——there are plenty of articles and publications outlining what that is. But BU *does* want to highlight the value of their students, their strong record of outreach, and challenge students to outdo themselves in the spirit of this campaign. It’s a major fundraising effort, and the students deserve to be involved without having to run around with boxes of candy bars or swaths of magazine subscriptions—something plenty of schools at various levels of education do. BU decided to try something different. Those jerks.

      If you took a second to realize that, far from being greedy, this teaches students that everyone can give back, regardless of financial circumstances——that gifts-in-kind and supporting their communities are worth more than they might realize——then you, too, might never again be reduced to asking such a terrible question.

      The internet is not, or shouldn’t be, a place where you unleash all of your frustration in mindless complaining on the end of news stories. The continual tendencies of people to get some idea lodged in their mind and refuse to sit and consider thoughtfully whether they might be mistaken is an embarrassment. Think, Paul. Think before you “rage against the machine” and call it unclassy, only to prove that you don’t understand the first thing about class.

      • Sigh on 10.03.2012 at 5:02 pm

        That last paragraph is so full of win.

    • k on 10.03.2012 at 10:12 am

      No, it’s not a monetary gift, there’s no moral problem with utilizing the momentum of a campaign to spur student interest in the community, and a sense of spirit at BU.

      The students themselves made the commitment. The only “inflated stats” are more community service hours, there’s no financial exchange. Donations aren’t just money; I don’t see any reason why students should be discouraged from giving of their time.

      BU is a non-profit institution with lots of goals— financial aid, improving facilities, supporting faculty, etc.– and these things don’t come cheap. So fundraising and volunteering are all directed towards the ultimate goal of making things better.

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