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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Bennion Center increases offerings to meet student needs

(Photo Courtesy of the Bennion Center)

U students get involved in various ways, and over 800 choose to spend their free time dedicated to service through the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center.

Courtesy of the Bennion Center

Dean McGovern, center director, said they’ve added programs to accommodate the increase of students who want to be involved.

“As students evolve, higher education evolves,” McGovern said.

This expansion includes a collaboration with the Center of Learning Abroad to expand the community engagement program abroad. The programs are offered all over the world and 25-30 percent of them are new to the U.

Another area of growth at the Bennion Center is the Alternative Breaks program, which offers students opportunities during Fall and Spring Breaks to participate in a week-long service project around the Western United States or in Canada.

Luis Vidal, a junior in geology, is a site leader for the Alternative Breaks program and co-chair for the Bennion Center Service Corps. Vidal said he has noticed a steady increase in service as more options are available and more people realize the benefits.

“For some people, it makes them feel better. For some people, it fulfills their need to provide to the community. Anyone can find some good in it,” he said.

McGovern has some theories on why service has increased. Part of it, at least at the university level, is because faculty from all majors and disciplines are incorporating it into their courses. High school students are also required or expected to do service and therefore maintain that habit coming into college.

Rhiannon Nuismer, a junior in nursing, said she thinks people are doing service because more jobs require it. Requirements for nursing school gave Nuismer the extra push to join a group. She currently volunteers for Project Youth, a U program that brings in about 1,000 sixth graders from Title 1 schools on reading day before finals to show them what college has to offer.

“It’s good to do nice things for others without expecting anything in return,” Nuismer said. “I feel like it makes you a better person.”

Courtesy of the Bennion Center

There are about 40 ongoing service options available at the Bennion Center and programs are continually added or subtracted according to interest.

“Even if people come here for the wrong reasons, we hope that they stay, continue and excel for all the right reasons,” McGovern said. “There is a world evolving around [students] that they need to experience and service provides a window into that.”

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