Bennion student directors make service plans for 2005

Student members from the U’s Bennion Community Service Center spent last weekend planning events and setting new goals for 2005.

Students made the five-hour journey to the Bennion Boys Teton Ranch in Victor, Idaho, as part of their annual winter retreat.

“It is far away enough that people can not go home,” Student Director Brandon Lee said. “It is hard to develop a sense of unity if people are always coming and going.”

Lee said students participated in activities aimed at improving communication and creating a sense of community.

Student Co-Directors Becky Lang and Rich Whipple said the retreat gave them the opportunity to plan changes for the Public Interest Advocacy program.

“We’ve been working with ASUU to get money for the library renovation,” Whipple said. “If students raise the renovation money, it should help to lower tuition rates.”

Lang said the PIA has been working with various non-profit organizations on several other projects to raise student awareness.

“Our big push is to inform the student body at the U,” Lang said. “We want students to get involved in the political workings of the Legislature.”

Lang added that last year some members of the Legislature complained about the high number of letters and calls they received from students.

“Our view is they were elected to listen to the people,” Lang said. “If they do not want to listen to the people, then they should not have run for election.”

Whipple said out of all the programs at the Bennion Center, PIA is one where students can really make a difference.

“All of the programs are really great,” he said. “Only the PIA lets students directly influence political changes to their Legislature.”

On the human-interest side of the service center, Danielle Jacobs with the Alternative Spring Break program, said ASB gives students the opportunity to affect people directly.

“It is the perfect program for me,” she said. “You get to go to different places and participate in service projects that really help people.”

Sophomore Nikki Christensen said with more than 40 student-directed programs to choose from at the Bennion Center, there is an area for everyone.

“Lowell Bennion founded this ranch so young boys could learn values of service, work and study,” she said. “His whole life was focused on all kinds of service, so they are all important.”

Christensen said as a service-learning scholar she works as director for the food stamp outreach program.

“I chose my program because I am interested in low-income issues,” she said. “This is my way to help decrease Utah’s hunger issue.”

Christensen said there is always a need for student participation throughout the center.

“We always have a place for students looking to serve others,” she said. “We will help them find their perfect niche.”

Senior Smitty Monson said he hopes for more student interest in the Campus Recycling program.

“Last year we donated over 50 working computers to computers for kids,” he said. “We collected over 100 computer parts that would have been thrown away.”

Monson added that many computer parts are hazardous to the environment and this year he plans to hold a similar event in April.

“That is really the big program we are working on,” he said. “We are trying to get support from the city and hopefully donate more computers to the program.”

Christensen said the retreat gives everyone in the center the opportunity to spend time with wonderful people.

“They are the cream of the crop at the U,” she said. “It is amazing how down to earth these people are about their role in making the world a better place. It is a great experience.”

[email protected]