“Progress and Service” is the motto of Tech, and progress has always been a focus for the Institute. Yet until recently, service has not enjoyed the same degree of attention as the other half of our motto. However, this focus is beginning to shift.
Within the past several years, there has been a resurgence in the value placed upon service by the Tech community. It seems to be on the lips of many faculty, administrators, and students. What has caused this shift to service?
I strongly believe that, as an institute, we have recognized that we cannot have progress without service. Progress becomes meaningless without a purpose, as it is left without a direction. Nevertheless, when the ideals of service are applied with equal importance to those of progress, a purpose begins to materialize immediately from the progress that Tech achieves on a daily basis. Whether it is research into a new method to inject medicine into a patient or Tech students working together to develop a better solar car, this progress has value because of the service it offers.
However, what does this mean from a more practical perspective, and why is it critical that Tech, and especially its students, care about service? As stated previously, the ideals of service give meaning to progress, and no one will argue that Tech produces some of the best graduates in the world. They are smart, highly capable, and hard workers (if I do say so myself!). With the skills and abilities that Tech has provided to them, they are in a position to create a significant impact in the world. The true challenge is encouraging Tech students to recognize the sheer extent to which they can influence their world, and in order to understand the potential of their abilities to affect the community, students must first possess an awareness of their community and its needs.
I believe that the best way to achieve this awareness and understanding is through direct service to the community. Not only do students become more aware of the world in which they live, but they are able to see the effect they can have in their community and understand the rewards that come from service-driven progress. Therefore, by encouraging service throughout the campus, Tech can help develop technically expert and globally aware graduates who possess the ability and the understanding to create a significant impact in the world.
Due to the value of service to the Tech community, the Community Service Council (CSC) came to campus in Fall 2011 with the purpose of fostering a passion and defining a tradition of service at Tech. The CSC is a student-led initiative that works closely with the Office of Community Service to unite all members of the Tech community to form a collaborative support system and proponent for the spectrum of service and societal engagement found at Tech. Although the CSC does not plan service events, it actively works to promote service in three main ways: encouraging service participation among the members of the Tech community; creating a support structure for service organizations including a newsletter, Service Forums, and a service calendar; and working with the administration to encourage service at an institute level.
The CSC hit the ground running in the fall and has already accomplished many goals to help further service at Tech. One of its many successes is a campus-wide service calendar that is updated by service organizations and comprehensively lists service events. Additionally, the CSC is actively working to advertise the Class of 1981 Endowment, which supports service funding for items such as transportation, shirts and food, among others, and to raise additional funds to ensure that service will be supported in the future at Tech. In the coming semester, the CSC will host service forums that will gather representatives from the more than 40 service organizations in order to discuss solutions to problems faced by service initiatives at Tech and brainstorm ideas for the future of service.