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Community Engagement Initiative Thriving

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Students serving local community enrich their academic experience

Bard College at Simon’s Rock’s number one ranking by Washington Monthly was recognition of the College’s commitment to service. The College continues to refine its mission to serve the nation by providing liberal education for the public good and educating students who are civically engaged and socially responsible.

With the success of current community service initiatives and an eye towards defending that position, Student Affairs has reorganized health and wellness programming under a new title, Active Community Engagement (ACE). With this change, the College now formally requires students to engage in service learning.

Under the ACE requirements, students must complete four “participation and service” engagements during each of their first three semesters. The Student Affairs office reports that many students are going above and beyond the requirement, planning and implementing their own community service projects.

A few student-led initiatives making a difference in the community right now include:

  • Breaking Bread, a collaboration between multiple local community organizations, is a community kitchen that hosts families and individuals, providing meals and building community through food. A dedicated group of students led by coordinator Jamila Ben Khoud, a senior, plan service trips to Breaking Bread every week. Routinely, more students sign up to help out than the kitchen can accommodate.
  • Weekly trips to Fairview Commons, a local nursing and rehabilitation center, to care for senior citizens. This initiative was designed by senior Summer Plouffe Vogel with an eye towards addressing a perennial issue at Simon’s Rock. Because some students leave after two years, it can be difficult to develop a consistent, long-term community service initiative. Plouffe Vogel is working with freshman and sophomores to make sure a new generation of leadership will carry on the work.
  • Planned Parenthood sexuality educator certification training. A group of students has received certification and is beginning to work in local schools—where funding for sex education was eliminated—to provide students with information that helps reduce teen pregnancy and STD transmission.

With students continuing in their community service commitments long after they’ve met ACE requirements, relationships between the campus and the wider local community are deepening and diversifying.