A panel of University and community officials discussed how students can become more involved in the area at last night's Duke-Durham Relations Forum. The meeting, a part of community service week, was organized by Community Service Center programming staff member Bridget
Newman to discuss service options in Durham for students .
Ten panelists each gave a brief talk on various local issues including political activism, inequality and student-employee relations. Panelist Barbara Jentleson, director of the Holistic Opportunity Plan for Enrichment program at Duke, said that the CSC has a number of different ways students can get involved, such as Project BUILD.
Jentleson also explained how Project HOPE was launched last year to help Duke students volunteer for after-school programs at neighborhood community centers and schools.
"We have hundreds of Duke tutors involved," Jentleson said. "It's a wonderful experience for me to watch these students... get out into the [neighborhood] schools."
Durham City Council member Howard Clement also urged students to help with local education.
"I tutor every Wednesday at Fayetteville [Street Elementary School]," Clement said. "I'd like to see some of you Duke students out there with me."
Clement said that he has lived in Durham for 43 years and he thinks that Duke and Durham are finally becoming one community under the leadership of President Nan Keohane.
Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta discussed several ways Duke might increase community service. One option Moneta proposed is what he calls a "managed market," in which all groups that receive University funds must do a certain number of service hours.
Moneta also said that several liberal arts colleges in the country require all students to do community service as a graduation requirement. "How would you feel about Duke being the first University of our stature to require service?" Moneta asked the audience.
Regardless of future plans, students do not have to work through Duke to do community service, said Beth Sorensen of the Durham Volunteer Center.
"We have over 1,200 volunteer opportunities," Sorensen said. "One is a good match for you."
People's Alliance representative Carl Rist also encouraged students to get involved in area politics.
"Our group meets with local [political] candidates, endorses candidates, works for them... and then follows them after they're elected to make sure they fulfill their promises," Rist said. "If you're interested, I encourage you to join."
Panelists Maryann Crea of Immaculate Conception Church and Theresa El-Amin of Jobs With Justice told students to look at ways they can help fight inequality. El-Amin related her experience working with Duke students on the anti-sweatshop movement, which resulted in Durham passing an ordinance against companies that use sweatshops.
During the audience participation session that followed the panelists' speeches, Clement reminded students that inequality is not just a Durham issue.
"Duke has the opportunity to take meaningful steps towards correcting injustice on its own campus," Clement said. He identified low employee wages as one issue students could help combat.
Later on, another student questioned whether the recent trend towards more on-campus living has lessened interaction with the community. The reason for this trend is that Duke believes more students living on campus will help increase intellectualism, said Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations John Burness, who was in the audience.
"[The trend] is driven by academic and intellectual factors," Burness said.
After the meeting, Newman, a junior who is a Chronicle columnist, said she was happy with the forum, which attracted about 40 people. "I was very pleased with the turnout," she said.
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