Community Council’s ‘community’

While its aims are admirable, the Council’s new requirement unfairly discounts the work students do individually.

Whether intentionally or not the community council has put an obstacle in the way of individual commitment to a specific cause. The four person requirement makes accomplishing 6 hours of good work into an extraordinary feat of organization and planning across each person’s conflicting sports schedules, meetings, and rehearsals atop the usual pressures of school work.

At least part of it becomes a chore, which undermines the school’s community service philosophy that outreach should be enjoyable. Not to mention the fact that four friends getting together to do community service hardly constitutes community bonding.

Though there are, of course, those students who have the time or will to continue work on personal projects, the reality is that there are many who, already juggling various extracurricular activities, will bow to stress without the incentive of a requirement.

An even larger number of students may miss out on the experience of being regularly involved with an organization because they are not required to go out and find one; in this sense the new requirement favors those who are already committed to community service as opposed to inspiring the student body to discover an interest in it.

The Community Council has tried to combine its dual mission of inspiring school bonding and reaching out to the greater Los Angeles community into one requirement.

It is true that the school needs to pick up the slack on community service — under the old requirement many students completed their requirements with minimal involvement — and it is equally true that the student body could do with a stronger sense of community. However, by nature of the fact that the Council does not give credit to individual work, it has made outreach more about our school than about the outlying community.

The Council has approached its goals backwards. By calling for students to work in groups the new rule requires a sense of community and encourages good service, a concept that inherently does not work — you can’t force students to bond.

The Council should require good service and encourage a sense of community. In other words, no one is complaining that the council is planning to organize community service events — or other events for that matter — that could allow students, teachers, and other members of the Harvard-Westlake community to work together. In fact, we’re glad that events like this will be available to us next year. But people working alone should also be able to get credit.