Over the past weekend, the College of William and Mary played host to more than 200 students from across the country for the second annual Active Citizens Conference. The conference had keynote speakers from some of the most well-respected nonprofit organizations in the United States, including some that were founded on this campus. The overarching goal of the conference was to inform students about active citizenship, a theory of social change in which the individual moves on a continuum, beginning as a member of a community and evolving into an active citizen whose life is dedicated to fighting social injustice. The conference provided service-oriented college students and professionals with a space to discuss theories and practices to create positive social change within communities.
The fact that the College was able to host such a large scale conference is representative of the Tribe’s dedication to service. As a whole, students at the College are committed to giving back to the community. Our Haiti Compact was only one of five chosen to be created by Break Away, a nonprofit organization. Alpha Phi Omega, the co-ed service fraternity is celebrating its 50th year at the College; in fact, our new Chancellor, Robert Gates ’65, is a member. This conference solidifies the College’s position as a leader in service, something which all students should value highly.
Three individuals who attended the conference, Cosmo Fujiyama ’07, George Srour ’08 and Doug Bunch ’06, are alumni who have gone on to their own organizations.Fujiyama and Srour both started their organizations, Students Helping Honduras and Building Tomorrow, respectively, while still undergraduate students at the College. Current college students were not only given a chance to see what they can accomplish before and after graduation, but they also were able to network with some of the biggest names in the nonprofit community who are also graduates of the College.
Given how great of an opportunity this conference presented to the entire student body, we are left wondering: Why didn’t we hear more about this? In general, students on campus did not know that the conference was even taking place this weekend. Not everyone receives emails from the Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship, so only students who are already actively involved with service on campus were informed of the event. Little advertisement reached the general student body, which prevented many students from taking advantage of the resources and information the conference provided.
We hope that next year the College makes students more aware of the opportunities this conference provides. The College is dedicated to service; the conference highlights that. The more students who learn about service and the nonprofit opportunities available through the College and its alumni, the stronger this reputation will become.
Editor’s Note: Ellie Kaufman recused herself from this issue’s staff editorial due to a conflict of interest.