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Communiversity in the News
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* “Communiversity” is a vision of the ways in which institutions of higher learning and the cities, towns, and counties that serve as their homes can and should work together to ensure the viability and vibrancy of their shared communities.

Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D
President of Rensselaer

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Communiversity * Communiversity
Public Service and Volunteerism
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Community Service Days
Rensselaer faculty and staff join students for the annual service day coordinated by the Office of the First-Year Experience. More than 500 volunteers — working for a total of some 1,500 hours — pitch in to assist neighborhood parks, museums, and social service agencies. Community Service Days are offered each month.

Public Service Internship Program
A key example of connections between Rensselaer students and the local community is the Public Service Internship Program, an in-depth, team-based internship program that provides nonprofit organizations with much-needed help. In the pilot program, “Community Informatics Internships,” interns remodeled, wired, and installed a computer network system for the new Sally Catlin Resource Center, a facility at the YWCA in Troy for low-income and disadvantaged women. Subsequent projects included an online women’s resource guide, development of computer club programs at the center, and intern-taught classes on basic computer and Web design skills.

Other projects are being developed in collaboration with the South Troy Neighborhood Association and the Institute for Cultural Analysis in South Troy (creation of a CD-ROM to promote home ownership in the city), as well as with the City of Troy, the Ark Community Charter School, and the South Troy Health Center.

Embrace the Dream
Hosted by Rensselaer’s Office of the First-Year Experience, this event pays tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ideal of the “Beloved Community” — a community in which poverty, hunger, and homelessness will not be tolerated, and all forms of discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. Student, faculty, and staff participants gather in the morning to share brunch and reflect on Dr. King’s vision, and then translate his ideals into actions working at local community service sites.

Student Service in the Community
The tradition of community service by student organizations at Rensselaer is as old as the Institute itself. Volunteerism has always been central to Greek life as well as a range of student service groups. Students are involved from the moment they arrive on campus and throughout their time at Rensselaer, through programs organized by the Office of the First-Year Experience such as the America Reads and America Counts programs in local schools, a Community Service Fair, American Red Cross Blood Drives, the OXFAM Banquet, and the Student Appreciation Dinner for Clothe-A-Child, and monthly Community Service Day programs.

This office also works closely with the Rensselaer Student Union’s service clubs and student organizations to support their service and fund-raising initiatives. The Office of the First-Year Experience’s Community Service Committee works cooperatively with service organizations and the Troy community in a wide variety of projects in dozens of local organizations, from the ARK Community Charter School and the Community Gardens to St. Joseph’s House and Shelter, and Habitat for Humanity.

Students also have the opportunity of living in the CAVE — the newest theme house at Rensselaer. Supported by the Office of the First-Year Experience, the CAVE (Community Action through Volunteer Engagement) dwellers adopt long-term service projects that lead to positive change in the community.

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