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Students weigh merits of service classes

BY
BY LINDSEY PATERSON
Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 25, 2003

Community service is a pursuit that benefits society while at
the same time providing self-fulfillment — so wouldn’t
it be great to also receive school credit for it? Some students
agree wholeheartedly while others think the credits aren’t
worth the work.

This winter term, several courses grant credits for performing
community service. The classes’ curricula involve working
with preschool children, traveling to Detroit schools to mentor
students and going to women’s prisons to study the lives of
women before and during incarceration.

Psychology 211, also called Project Outreach, is a two-credit
course that has five different sections, with topics including
“Working with Preschool Children; Big Sibs: Community and
Opportunity; Juvenile Delinquency and Criminal Justice; Health,
Illness and Society; and Exploring Careers.”

All of these sections include a weekly seminar, discussion and
four to six hours of field experience per week.

LSA junior Lindsay Sutton took Psychology 211’s Health and
Big Sibs courses last fall and winter. As a pre-pharmacy major, she
found that the health course was more applicable to her
interests.

Sutton was assigned to the emergency room and the Women’s
Breast Care Clinic in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. She
was given duties such as changing the sheets in the emergency room,
and said that it was “very high-paced.”

“I learned more from the clinical settings (the class
lectures) than the field experience. We had guest lecturers and
registered nurses that spoke. They really wanted the students to
learn,” Sutton said.

Sutton said she thinks that two credits is a fair amount for
this course but warns students that it is a lot of work. While
there are no tests or quizzes, there are weekly journals —
and hours of fieldwork.

“If you are really interested in it, it is worth the two
credits, but if you are trying to get more credits, you may end up
working more than you get credit for,” Sutton said.

More information about Psychology 211’s courses is
available at www.umich.edu/~psycours/211.

Sociology 389, “Project Community,” is another
course that offers credits for community service.

This class is three to four credits and requires the
corresponding weekly hours of community service in addition to a
weekly seminar, weekly readings and journal assignments, a midterm
assignment and a final paper or project. Project Community offers
more than 35 service settings, including “schools, hospitals,
correctional facilities, a domestic violence shelter, advocacy
agencies, and care organizations,” according to the LSA 2004
Course Guide.

Freshmen are urged to look into the first-year seminar
University Course 151, Section 4, which grants three credits in
conjunction with the program LUCY — Lives of Urban Children
and Youth. The program not only consists of this course but also
encourages first- and second-year students to make a two-year
commitment to LUCY.

Students in this class have two weekly requirements — to
attend a seminar and to perform four to six hours of community
service at one of four community sites in Detroit.

“Experience is part of intellectual learning. I call it
‘rich and textured learning,’” LUCY Director
Stella Raudenbush said. The students serve as mentors and tutors to
children in grades K-12 through after-school and in-school
programs.

“It’s really, really exciting. Not only do the
students study the sociology and history of Detroit, but they work
first hand and affect the life prospects of children in
Detroit,” Raudenbush added.

Participants in Section 20 of Women’s Studies 484 also
work with primary and secondary school students — in a
partnership with students from Wayne State University — and
spend time with middle school girls. The program is also called
“GO-GIRL: Gaining Options: Girls Investigate Real
Life.”

GO-GIRL emphasizes the importance of math for middle school
girls and encourages undergraduate students to enrich the lives of
these impressionable females. The program hopes that by sharing
experiences of higher education, college students will persuade
seventh graders to follow in their footsteps.

This course meets 10 Saturdays during the semester, from 9 a.m.
to 2:30 or 3:30 p.m., depending on travel time needed.

Women’s Studies 333, Women in Prison, is another community
service class offered this winter. It focuses on women’s
lives before, during and after prison, specifically the
“oppression” plaguing their lives, according to the
Course Guide.

Many students who said they would be interested in these courses
are simply unaware that they exist.

LSA sophomore Kevin Francies said, “I’m as
interested in community service as the next person.” He said
that he did not know that these courses were available but now
plans to take Psychology 211 since he is a psychology major.

LSA freshman Jill Setter was also unaware of the community
service courses. She thought that a class that volunteered at a
children’s ward of a hospital would be worthwhile. Setter
added that she was interested in the health topics since she
intends on becoming a dental hygienist.

But the credits granted for these courses may be inadequate for
the amount of work involved. LSA junior Sabrina Claude said that
the two service classes she had completed had this problem.

Claude took Sociology 389 and worked with the Ann Arbor Tenants
Union in fall 2001, and again in winter 2003 when she worked with
the Full Circle Mental Health Center. The Ann Arbor Tenants Union
required more than four hours per week of outside work, plus class
time and other outside assignments.

The Full Circle work entailed three hours of community service
per week, an hour and a half of class time, and two hours of
outside work per credit.

“We were definitely doing more than three credits worth of
work,” Claude said. She added that she thought it should be a
four-credit course.

Most classes are willing to work with students regarding
transportation. Please see the Winter 2004 Course Guide for more
details, prerequisites and restrictions regarding the community
service classes.