Letter to the editor

The importance of volunteerism

As one of the leading universities in the country, USC should make volunteerism a requirement for graduation and aim to focus its resources on promoting volunteerism on campus if it wants its students to have a greater impact on the world.

College is the time to explore your interests and to try different things that you may have never considered before. The number of opportunities that are opened to us once we step onto these grounds are endless. Among them are volunteering opportunities that take place in locations ranging from just a couple blocks from campus to thousands of miles away in third-world countries.

Students are more concerned about studying, socializing and worrying about their future careers instead of giving back to communities at home and abroad. Society plays a role in promoting this success-driven mentality, but the USC community is to blame as well.

The trustees have the most influence in the direction and focus of the students. Requiring students to complete a minimum number of hours volunteering and giving back to a community would decentralize our one-directional minds, at least for those few hours, benefitting both ourselves and surrounding communities.

It is true that time that is spent volunteering can be spent studying, drafting resumes and cover letters, applying for internships and jobs or socializing and having fun; after all, we only have this kind of freedom for what seems like a millisecond before we’re tossed into the great unknown of responsibilities and nine-to-five jobs.

However, volunteering can be a great bonding experience for us and an easy way to meet others from different social and academic backgrounds within the USC community.

Furthermore, students could make connections with community leaders in public service and with other volunteers that may help them later in their careers or life. Volunteering also allows us to try out new careers without making long-term commitments and it allows us to gain experience in a new field. The benefits will eventually surface in the least likely of places. Volunteering allows us to work in groups, learn from one another and exercise our creativity throughout the entire process.

Whether it is helping raise money for a special cause or tutoring students in the neighboring communities, volunteering can help us build skills that will be helpful for our future careers. It’s not a completely far-fetched idea for USC to make volunteerism a requirement for graduation after realizing the benefits, both for us and society.


Joanne Chong

Senior, communication


4 replies
  1. Tim L.
    Tim L. says:

    While I agree with some of the other comments that volunteering should be voluntary, I commend the author for bringing volunteerism to the forefront of discussion, challenging the trustees to uphold its value, and highlighting its benefits. I remember back when I was touring the campus, there was one thing that was loud and clear: USC was the Time’s College of the Year in 2000. Why? It wasn’t because of academics, resources, or even their football team, it was because the students and staff were committed to volunteering, community outreach and being a good neighbor. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the transformation of the South LA community from the riots in the early 90s to what it is today (not the greatest, but not nearly as bad as I heard it once was) is largely due to USC’s commitment to the surrounding community.

    Though I’m not sure what the results (positive or negative) would be for a volunteer requirement for graduation, there are ways that the trustees and administration can highlight the value of volunteering or offer incentives for students to consider volunteering as a worthy avenue of their time.

  2. Graham
    Graham says:

    The whole point of volunteering is that it is voluntary. It is a great thing, but the whole point of it is completed defeated if it is required.

  3. Tutors
    Tutors says:

    Volunteering is one of the most rewarding experiences in life. When you have the ability to give back to others, not only improving the quality of their lives but you are setting an example for everyone around you.
    Unfortunately, not everyone has the ability or privilege to volunteer their time (though I believe that most people probably would like to if they could).
    Many high schools require students to complete community service hours as part of their requirements to graduate. This can be beneficial in many cases, but often creates a sense of resentfulness towards volunteering because it is being prescribed as opposed to something out of the goodness of one’s heart.

  4. Christian
    Christian says:

    I personally agree with you that volunteering is important and that people should take efforts to improve their communities. But you take it a step too far by advocating for a university wide mandate that students do so. We’re in college. We’re all adults. We don’t need to be told what to do with our weekends or our free time. Volunteering is great and people should do more of it, but its not your job, mine, or the University’s place to tell people what to do with their lives. If people want to spend all of their time “socializing” or “worrying about their future careers” they have every right to do so. This is a free country.

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