Reductions in student engagement lead to reduced programming
By Nathan Wileman and Elizabeth VanderPloeg
Community Outreach Day, North Central’s annual community service project event, has been canceled for this year. This change is a direct result of staffing changes.
Over the summer, the student engagement department was reduced from a staff of five people to two. As a result, the department has gone through a season of reevaluation.
“With reduced staffing, you have to re-evaluate programs,” said Nicole Palser, dean of student engagement and experiential learning. Community Outreach Day has been planned by the student engagement staff since its inception, and with reduced staff, it was simply no longer possible.
After years of focused commitment to off-campus ministry, Palser said this cancelation is not a shift of vision for the university. “Being a part of the community and serving local organizations is still a high priority,” she said.
In addition to staffing shortages, Palser said that organizations were wanting more consistent and committed help than what could be offered through Community Outreach Day.
The student engagement department is continuing to look at other opportunities for students to interact with the community, and is open to doing Community Outreach Day in the future. “It’s a really cool thing to mobilize the entire campus to go out and serve our community,” Palser stated, “but we don’t want it to be something we do just to feel good about ourselves.”
Palser hopes this change will charge students to take personal responsibility for their ministry involvement in Minneapolis and the East Town neighborhood. “Through experiencing the community, you may have ideas of ways to serve that you wouldn’t have had if you stayed inside the walls of North Central.”