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May 13, 2014

University Community Service Center advisory board named

Last Wednesday, the University Community Service Center (UCSC) announced a new 15-member advisory board to advise the UCSC on effectively carrying out its mission to provide students with service opportunities throughout the city of Chicago. The board was created after controversy over changes to the UCSC’s mission.

The board includes four undergraduate students, three graduate students, two alumni, two faculty members, two campus colleagues representing other University offices, and two leaders of community organizations, known as community partners.

“Board members will serve as UCSC ambassadors, promote and support events and activities, and work with staff on how to make the greatest impact on our campus and the broader Chicago community,” UCSC Director Amy Chan said in a statement.

The development of an advisory board was recommended by the Student Government (SG) assembly in light of opposition to the changes considered for the Summer Links program and the controversial staff overhaul in the fall.

“The UCSC has recently undergone many major organizational and managerial shifts that have caused concerns amongst students, faculty, alumni, and some community members,”  said second-year Emma Almon, who was recently chosen as one of the four undergraduate affiliates of the board. “Since a large portion of the SG is in some way connected to the UCSC, they really wanted to help enact a board that would serve as an intermediary for any new changes.”

However, on November 7, the same day that SG passed the resolution to recommend a UCSC advisory board, Chan said she was planning to establish an advisory board in the spring, according to an e-mail sent to UCSC participants, alumni, and Community Service RSO (CSRSO) leaders. This advisory board was to be formed independently of the resolution passed by the SG.

According to Almon, SG was also looking to resurrect the first UCSC Student Advisory Board after one was implemented by Michelle Obama in 1996, when she served as the UCSC Director. The 1996 Board faded out gradually over the years, until the new board’s recent implementation.

“This advisory board was very needed,” Dillan Siegler, director of Partnerships and Engagement at the Institute of Politics (IOP) and one of the campus colleague affiliates of the board, said. “It brings together a group of people with diverse perspectives and allows us to hold meetings that will serve as a place for insight and suggestions into how we can all help serve the community and the people within it.”

Members of the board were selected through a nomination process, followed by a written application and an interview in the style of a focus group.

New members will be required to attend two board meetings per quarter in order to help advocate for the priorities of key constituencies of the UCSC. They will also provide feedback and evaluations for new programs, events, and services being offered.

“Part of the board’s goal is to help get word out about all of the initiatives the UCSC has to offer so that we can better bridge the gap between students willing to volunteer and the programs available to them,” said first-year and undergraduate affiliate to the board Peggy Xu.

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