Good afternoon, everyone! In true academic form, I shall shamelessly read my prepared remarks from a piece of paper:
On behalf of Coulter house, and particularly Natalie, my partner in crime who’s currently braving a midterm, we’re honored, heartened, and humbled by this administrative recognition.
We’re also a bit hesitant: After all, while current administrators, several in this room, have taken flack and taken action on the University’s historic challenges of identity and community, we as a house have only just begun probing the possibilities of peer-led, dorm-centered service.
We got our start at the Service Center's Orientation-week service, to which all but a single sick Coulterite turned out. Service, we thus suggested to ourselves, can be like study break or house meeting: an all-house endeavor.
Still, we recognized that that event belonged to the Service Center. To take ownership, then, we worked with the Service Center to plan our own fall service from the ground-up. By wagering our service’s entire success or failure on our house-participation and no one else’s, we turned out fully forty percent of residents. We thus engaged beyond the core of students who happened to arrive at Chicago already interested in service, and who beyond Orientation are too often too narrowly the effective audience of administrators’ initiatives.
One brief example: For fall service, we hit the ground by walking south of 61st, west to Cottage Grove, and then braving the Green-line. Our sincere thanks to Orientation-Leaders for talking the talk about getting out. But we as a house got each other to walk the walk, literally.
We walked again to winter service, braving broad daylight to venture over a mile west of the University Police's jurisdiction. We ended up at Coppin church, and thanks to Coulterite Mattie Renn, we’ve sustained that relationship by returning weekly.
Spring, we invited neighbors like those we’d served back to our house community, where two speakers shared their experiences with homelessness. No hierarchical title can push students deep in the life of their mind to grapple personally with such uncomfortable realities, but we as peers proved our unique social position to do just that. Four other houses have since similarly hosted dialogues; thirteen more have inquired.
None of which is to diminish institutional efforts towards making our university, in President Zimmer’s words, “an outward-looking, active, and engaged citizen of the South Side.” For instance, we students will never match the Service Center's planning efficiency. But, inasmuch as the University’s inimitable academic repute thrives on scholars excelled to excellence by scholarly community more than institutional program, our University’s rising civic responsibility can thrive on students encouraged to engagement by dorm community.
So, thanks particularly to the Service Center and Housing Office for encouraging dorm-houses to elect house-service leaders. Thanks to all of you for letting me exceed my time. And thanks again from all Coulter house for this recognition. We can’t wait for next year’s service.
[my name] at yahoo dot com