Point of View: EVP encourages community involvement

Sept. 30, 2009

It is hard to believe we are already a third of the way through the fall semester. By now, we have all settled into our new routines, reconnected with old friends and made new friends and reacquainted ourselves with life at Baylor.

As we approach the end of the month, it is important to reach outside our normal routines and consider making changes this school year. For some this means redoubling your efforts in classes, while for others, it may mean joining a new organization. These are both great changes to make.

However, I want to take this opportunity to highlight another area that deserves our time and attention: our local community.

As students of Baylor University, we are by default citizens of Waco. As citizens of this city we all have a responsibility to join our neighbors in bettering the community we share.

I know as you read this some of you are thinking of things you don't like or would like to change about Waco. However, Waco is not a "thing" we need to "fix"--it is the place we call home during our four years at Baylor. We can all benefit from our time spent in Waco, but only if we view ourselves as members of the Waco community.

This means getting involved. Often, we think of involvement as volunteering for everything that comes our way, but this should not be the case. If we all chose one project and consistently devoted ourselves to it, rather than spreading ourselves between many one-time endeavors, think of the change we could create.

It is also important to note that getting involved and serving is not a one-time, "check the box" activity. Involvement means making a commitment to being an active citizen in our community. That's not to say that you have to spend every Saturday restocking shelves at the local food bank (though it would be great if you did!). But it does include following through with commitments and sustaining relationships.

So what does this look like? You tell me. You can spend an hour each week reading to kids at a local elementary school. You can help collect box tops for our community-wide Box Tops for Education drive to benefit east Waco's J.H. Hines Elementary. You can lead a discussion group for One Book, One Waco. You can work with Learning English Among Friends, teaching English to members of Baylor's housekeeping staff. You can attend Baylor's annual Poverty Summit and learn about an issue that strongly affects our community. You can participate in Steppin' Out. You can attend a city council meeting. You can do anything that leaves another person better at the end of the day.

Student Government, along with numerous other on-campus organizations, is always looking to form new partnerships between Baylor students and the Waco community. If you have an idea for a way we can continue to build relationships in our community, or if you need an idea for how you can get involved, please come talk to us.

There are 14,541 students at Baylor. If each one of us gave just an hour per week, that would be 58,164 man hours per month and 523,476 per school year. Think of the impact that we could have in this city. If we all gave that much time, we could spend 34 hours per year with every student in the Waco Independent School District.

We have huge potential as a student body. If we make a collective, unified push to be one school working together to serve our city, there is no limit to the difference we could make. Will you join us?

Emily Saultz is a Business Fellows and Economics, pre-med, junior from Amarillo and EVP of student government.