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One cannot volunteer if compelled to work

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

For the past several weeks I have been following the minor dust-up over the mandatory volunteerism at a local high school with a certain level of amusement. It would appear that those who are championing this mandatory requirement in order to graduate do not know the true definition of "to volunteer."

Now, I am 100 percent in favor of folks volunteering their time, money, goods and services to whatever cause they chose. After all without volunteers, over half of all the charities in the country would be unable to pay their directors a living wage. But I digress. Let us look at the definition of two words as per Webster.

Volunteer: Having power of free choice proceeding from the will or from ones own choice or consent.

Require: To impose a compulsion or command.

Somehow I cannot get past the fact that the definition of volunteer does not have the words requirement nor mandatory in it, yet the seniors of the local high school are required to volunteer in some form of community service or they will not receive their diplomas. Is that not an oxymoron? The only other place that I am aware of where community service is sometimes mandated is when a judge requires X hours of community service in order for a miscreant to receive a reduced sentence. Surely we are not equating criminal behavior with graduating from high school.

I have no problem having the schools spend an hour of classroom time to extol the virtues of volunteerism and community service. In fact a once-a-year class could be given each year from kindergarten through senior year. Surely 12 hours of extolment should be sufficient to indoctrinate the children in the rewards of volunteering. But to mandate a person to volunteer goes fully against what volunteering is all about and in my opinion sends the absolute wrong message to the students, defeating the original purpose.

Charles Wibel