In its first meeting of the school year, the Augustana Student Association (ASA) passed an act allowing student organizations who did not complete the required 10 service hours during the 2020-2021 school year to keep their active status.
The COVID Action Resolution Exempting Service, known as the CARES act, was drafted in recognition of the barriers to service last year caused by the pandemic. With the act passed, any student organization that did not complete its service requirement remains active on campus, meaning they can receive funding and other benefits from ASA. In a typical year, not meeting the required 10 hours of service means these benefits would be lost.
“With mental health decline and health concerns due to COVID-19, it seemed good for this singular year to waive it,” senior senator John Walker said.
ASA President Courtney Chrystal said COVID-19 made it more difficult to both find volunteer opportunities and follow through on attending them. Additionally, many students had to prioritize their mental health and learning before focusing on outside matters.
In addition to the barrier caused by the pandemic, ASA also created new rules surrounding service last year that put an extra strain on student organizations. According to Chrystal, student groups were required to have three or more members present when doing service hours as well as submit service hours by a specific deadline to be counted toward their requirement.
“This is our way of taking care of student organizations, recognizing that they not only came off of a year where it was incredibly hard to do service outside of campus but where reporting service on campus was extremely different,” Chrystal said.
On September 2 at the annual Student Organization Leader Training event, Chrystal announced that at least one of these rules will be modified for the coming school year. Student organizations are required to have at least three members contribute service hours to the group’s total, but those three or more are no longer required to complete those hours at the same time.
“We’d like it to be as relaxed as possible,” Walker said. “Not to say that we won’t require it, just that we’d like it to be as easy to do service as possible to encourage service.”
Chrystal said that despite last year’s exception, she doesn’t expect that the service requirement will ever go away for student organizations.
“Service is one of our core values, and it very much so is one of the stars that guides us,” Chrystal said.
She said that she does anticipate more service on campus to help the Augustana community.
Chrystal said current on-campus examples include staffing the Campus Cupboard, stocking hygiene products with H.A.P.P.Y. or cleaning up campus, especially with construction projects nearby.
“If we realized anything last year, it’s just how much support students need, and so I think that student organizations are going to start filling that niche of providing it,” Chrystal said.