MELISSA CHICKER — News Editor
Students of Southern took part in the colleges annual Dr. Ronald D. Herron Day of Service this past Saturday, Sept. 17. The university, for the last five years, has collaborated with the New Haven Police Department to identify problem areas in New Haven and Hamden where students can go and work on various projects. These projects range from street clean up, painting in a park, or sprucing up an old facility in the community.
“The goal is to help build a stronger sense of community between Southern and New Haven. We want students to understand they are not just a part of Southern but a part of a larger community as well,” said Sal Rizza, associate director of Student Life, who is helping to run the event along with Student Government and Southern’s Service Team.
The name was changed last year to the Dr. Ronald D. Herron Day of Service. Kaitlyn Hoffmann, a student orientation coordinator, and former Student Government President, Benjamin McNamee talked with the Office of Student Life about what event best represented his contribution to the campus. After some deliberation the idea to name the Day of Service after him seemed ideal.
“Dr. Herron impacted a lot of students on this campus. He was very influential in establishing community service projects like the Day of Service. The more important piece is that he was able to lead us in a direction to make it a tradition on this campus,” said McNamee, now Chairperson of the Board of Constitutional Review and Student Representative to the Board of Trustees.
Twelve sites have been designated by the Police Department for students. The day began at 8 a.m.
with check-ins and breakfast provided at the Adanti Student Center. There students, faculty, and staff split up into teams and were assigned to their designated areas.
Interim Vice President Peter Troiano also spoke before the event began, letting students know how grateful and proud he was that Southern was doing such a good service to the community. Volunteers spent a total of five hours cleaning up various sites throughout the cities, including 10 different locations in New Haven, one on-campus and two in Hamden.
“I think it is important for us to give back to the local community because we are privileged enough to go to school here. These towns are our community and I think every person that is part of a community should give something back,” said Stefan Keller, chairperson for the Service Team and Representative at Large for the Student Government Association. Stefan has been involved in the Day of Service since his sophomore year.
Ebonee Parrott, freshman marketing major, volunteered on Southern’s community garden located behind Davis Hall.
“This is better than I thought. I expected us to be just cleaning up garbage but this is interesting,” she said. “I have met a lot of people and will definitely do it again next year.”
The event has grown since its start in 2007, according to Rizza, who said compared to last year’s 400 volunteers who moved over four tons of trash throughout the day, this year was even more successful with over 600 volunteers.
“It has begun to get bigger and has sparked interest in the members of the student body that have an interest in serving the community,” said Rizza.
This year the Service Team also reached out to areas of campus to volunteer students including Residence Halls, clubs, sports teams, and organizations. They also worked with the First Year Experience Program and the Peer Mentors in Inquiry classes to have freshmen sign up; some classes made the day mandatory while other professors gave extra credit.