“Be the difference.” This motto is a cornerstone of Marquette’s Jesuit mission and is often the mantra heard across campus. It is also one of the first things students and parents hear when they step onto Marquette’s campus.
While the school is centered on community service and Jesuit values, there is no required dedication to this service. There is a strict curriculum requiring philosophy and theology classes to graduate, but there is no requirement to complete some sort of service during a student’s four years of being at a school so integrated into the city. In fact, only 4 percent of college graduates who are 25 years or older volunteer their time to organizations, according to Volunteer Hub. This number can be increased if students in college volunteer and understand the benefits of their work. At Marquette, eighty percent of undergraduate students participate in community service. This number is higher than the average, but it could be even higher and make more of a difference in the Marquette community.
Students should be required to complete some sort of service in the Milwaukee area. This service could help students understand the city we are so integrated in, and the segregation and issues that are such a large part of the place we call home for four years. This requirement could be included with the introduction level classes of philosophy or theology, and could be satisfied by being in clubs such as the Midnight Run or the Marquette Volunteer Corps. This requirement could bolster involvement in these clubs, as many of these organizations these clubs rely on the clubs for volunteers and for serving these populations. Volunteers are worth $24.14 per hour on average, according to Volunteer Hub.. The worth of volunteers being well above minimum wage, sheds light on the value of volunteers and how much they truly benefit the organizations they serve.
There is also the issue of the “Marquette bubble.” This common phrase describes how although Marquette is located in a diverse city, the students often do not leave campus, and stay within the borders of perceived safety. In reality, there is a lot to explore and many unique individuals that exist outside of campus. While requiring service is not an end-all be-all solution to the of lack of information about race on Marquette’s campus, it would be beneficial to use service as a way for students to get out of their comfort zones and step into others’ shoes across the inner-city neighborhoods. Service is an important way to get on one of the bus lines and travel to a place that may be unfamiliar, and learning from those unknown places and gaining new experiences could be a way to become accepting and gain understanding of the world. What is scary and unknown can create biases, and learning about new people and places can be the first step to breaking down those biases.
With Milwaukee being one of the most segregated cities in America, race is a prominent issue in the city Marquette students live for four years. It makes sense to give back to a community and become educated about racism, segregation and all the issues they cause in the city at the same time. Requiring service as early as freshman year, participating in service learning classes or joining a service club can be a first step to education of the whole person, and it can be the key to continuing uncomfortable conversations that need to happen on this campus.