CCE Works Around Budget Cuts to Offer More Opportunities to Students
By Sonum Dixit '13, News Section Editor
Despite budget cuts, the Center of Community Engagement (CCE) has made changes this year.

“We increased student staff because we are concerned about student employment on this campus,” said CCE Director Molly Mead. Despite a reduction in professional staff Mead believes, “we get things done well with student input.”

In addition, “winternships” have been suspended because despite their short time frames, “they cost as much as summer internship[s] and [we thought] it would be better to put the money in summer [internships],” said Mead.

However, funding for summer internships has not been cut and “150 to 200 students’ [projects] will be funded.”

Students still had options during interterm. Sixteen students took a course called “Crafting Public Policy.” Mead said that each student “developed PowerPoints and videos for clients” on issues such as homelessness, obesity and charter schools. According to Mead, the feedback was so positive that the CCE plans to offer the course next year.

Students are concerned that the budget cuts will make things more difficult. “I don’t believe the CCE currently does enough to provide its students with an international experience,” said Eirene Wang ’13.

“An increase of budget may even be necessary if the CCE hopes to provide internship opportunities that are competitive and comparable to that of other colleges, such as Smith and Hampshire.”

The CCE has a Facebook page to inform students about it and has been trying to invite students to become fans, according to Mead.

It is also trying to help students avoid confusion between the CCE and the Career Center as many do not know the difference between their services. Ken Koopmans, who works for both centers, facilitates students’ search for internships so that this mix-up between community-oriented internships and other ones.

“We don’t want students to divide up the world that way,” said Mead.

Also, the CCE has changed the name of the Fellowships for Action program to ‘Civic Engagement Scholars’ and freshmen can no longer apply.

There have been several “community-based learning” initiatives such as “Pioneer Valley Soundscapes” run by the Music Department and math tutoring done by students in Math 5 and 6 at local schools.

Twelve Environmental Studies majors will also receive funding for internships, while the Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought Department is going to “implement a program where students [will] go to Houston Institute at Harvard Law School.”

Despite these changes, Mead says that there is still room for improvement. “I’d say 40 to 50 percent of the student body is well aware of the CCE,” she said. “We’d love to figure out ways to get [that percentage] to 75 to 80 percent.” Mead also hopes to involve more faculty members in CCE courses.

Some students do not blame the CCE for its lack of presence. “I don’t know a great deal of what they do, but it was my choice kind of, not lack of info,” said Tim Boateng ’13.

But overall, said Mead, “the initial challenges have turned out to be opportunities and partnering with others has been positive.”

Issue 15, Submitted 2010-02-17 20:19:50