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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC Officials React To Service Proposal

Bush's USA Freedom Corps would designate 50 percent of funds from work-study to nonprofit corporations.

In his State of the Union address last week, Bush called on Americans to help the nation by increasing their involvement in the community.

He introduced the USA Freedom Corps, which is a new civil service initiative, in an attempt to encourage more community service.

The initiative includes reallocating some funds in the federal work-study program to community service.

Seven percent of work-study funds are required to go to students who work with nonprofit corporations. Bush's proposal would increase that funding requirement to 50 percent.

Shirley Ort, UNC director of scholarships and student aid, said requiring that 50 percent of the federal work-study money go toward community service placements could result in students taking a job just for the paycheck rather than because of their public service ethic.

"The best community service placements are those where the students have a genuine interest in their work," she said. "I think it's hard to legislate that sense of commitment."

Ort said a 50 percent change would be too extreme and that she would prefer a more moderate change, such as 15 percent.

Mary Morrison, director of the APPLES service-learning program, said the community's need for the work-study change needs to be reviewed.

"I think its important to check out with community partners to see if this is truly what they want and need," Morrison said.

While she supports the idea of increasing community service, Morrison pointed out that nonprofits might not be able to handle the extra workers.

"It could create a situation where community partners are unable to supervise additional paid or unpaid staff," she said. "They can only accommodate so many people."

Another potential problem is the issue of transportation, Morrison said.

"We're a large university in a small community. A lot of opportunities for service are in Durham, Raleigh and Chatham County," she said. "How are students going to get back and forth from their work-study if there isn't adequate transportation?"

Kevin Teague, a senior history major who has been involved in work-study for four years, said the change is a good idea but might have potential problems.

He said that transportation might be an issue, in addition to logistical problems that might occur from the change.

"It will be a headache because they'll have to find more stuff to do for additional volunteers," Teague said. "You will also have to deal with all the money and payroll issues."

He said the change might not even be necessary in the immediate area. "Chapel Hill probably doesn't have problems with volunteer help."

Teague shared concerns similar to Ort's and said the most troubling aspect of the change is the ethical dilemma.

"It takes away from the value of volunteering," he said. "Now that you're enticing students to come work for money, it takes the greater meaning out of it."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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