Opinion

Volunteer options abound to promote Wisconsin Idea

The Red Gym is home to a variety of volunteering resources for students.

Image By: Morgan Winston

The Wisconsin Idea is a phrase that is tossed around quite often at our university. I remember hearing it described at SOAR but not really understanding what it meant. According to our school website, the broad premise of the Wisconsin Idea is that “education should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom” and, more broadly, that it reflects the “university’s commitment to public service.”

Essentially, UW-Madison is not just committed to supporting outstanding academics, but to making sure its students are using their education to help better the lives of both the local, national, and global community. Public service is the essence of the Wisconsin Idea and its importance cannot be stressed enough. Every person should try and leave the world a little better than they found it and our university is encouraging its students to do just that. By emphasizing the necessity of public service in our school’s philosophy, the university makes sure that it is providing the resources and faculty that allow us students to be able to give back to the community.

The University’s commitment to volunteering is quite evident through its Morgridge Center for Public Service. The Morgridge Center’s mission is to “connect campus and community through service, service learning and community-based research to build a thriving democratic society.” Through the Morgridge Center, students can search for numerous volunteering opportunities on an online database.

Students can find opportunities related to causes they are passionate about, such as homelessness, accessibility and disability and LGBT advocacy just to name a few. They also list options related specifically to your major so you can find service opportunities and apply what you have learned in the classroom to a service related, real world setting. Also on the Morgridge Center website are service trips students can take where they can volunteer over breaks and make a meaningful impact on various communities outside of school. Another huge part of the Morgridge center is Badger Volunteers, where students sign up for a semester-long commitment to volunteer at different organizations throughout the community, where they spend their time for a few hours every week. Badger Volunteers is a great example of how the university encourages students to give back, and this is a meaningful way for students to become more involved in the Madison community.

Besides the Morgridge Center, students can also become involved in service through dozens and dozens of student organizations on campus. On the Wisconsin Involvement Center website, students can filter and look through countless organizations that are solely dedicated to service. Advocates for Diverse Abilities, Lions Club and Amnesty International are just a few of the diverse service organizations that students can join to explore and discover causes to which they are dedicated.

One of the greatest examples of our university’s commitment to public service is our relationship with the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps is a volunteer organization that is solely about giving back and helping community development. The noble people who join this organization are not doing it for money; they are doing it out of their pure desire to help make the world a better place, in whatever little ways they can. UW-Madison is ranked the number one university for producing Peace Corps volunteers, and there are currently 87 Badgers serving in the Peace Corps worldwide. These people embody the principles of the Wisconsin Idea in action. Their education at UW fostered within them a global spirit that encouraged them to make their mark on the world through volunteering.

All of these various service organizations and resources prove that UW-Madison takes the philosophy of the Wisconsin Idea seriously; the commitment it makes to public service is not just empty words. An education at UW-Madison promotes well-rounded individuals who are determined to take their experiences in and outside of the classroom to give back to the larger community. UW-Madison inspires Badgers to have a giving spirit that goes beyond the classroom and has an impact greater than themselves.

Madison is a sophomore majoring in English and communication arts. Please send all comments, questions and concerns to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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