Although most GW students are looking forward to a long weekend, many Colonials are also looking forward to Monday's day of service, which honors Martin Luther King Jr. This national day of service serves as a reminder that the first official weekend back is not simply a time to catch up with friends or get ahead on "syllabus week" readings. Instead, it is a time to give back.
The University is offering opportunities to serve as it has in previous years, and while all GW students are encouraged to take part in these activities, there is currently a wait list for interested students. But it is important that this wait list not deter you from doing service on Monday. Students don't necessarily have to go through GW to serve, as there are opportunities throughout the city.
Though it is encouraging and impressive that so many GW students want to serve on Monday, last year's Obama Service Challenge taught us that GW students are not limited to serving on national days of service. Colonials have demonstrated a commitment to community service, and clearly, service is a now a tenant of our University.
Due to the overwhelming response to GW's service day, individual GW students might not be able to make as much of an impact with so many volunteers serving at the same site. Because of the influx of volunteers, service organizations are sometimes unable to employ the full faculties of everyone who wants to help. But a week from Monday, when those same organizations need that help, a student's impact can be profound. Many organizations are hosting opportunities over the weekend, and will do so long after MLK Day passes.
For those who do get the opportunity to serve through GW on Monday, we hope that they are able to make an impact. Last year's event was somewhat marred by complaints of students not having enough to do, and complaints about officials' overemphasis on publicity for GW. This year's event needs to be better managed, and event organizers need to be cautious of committing the same mistakes.
This year's slogan for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service tells us to think of Monday as a day "on," not a day "off." We hope that students take this slogan to heart, and choose to give back. Regardless of how students serve, Colonials have the opportunity to spend the day out in the community. And while MLK Day is an annual commemorative holiday, service does not have to be a once-yearly event.
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