Vice President for Civic Engagement Derek Douglas spoke about the Office of Civic Engagement, the Obama presidential library, and other topics at the Student Government Assembly meeting on Monday.
Douglas began by describing student involvement opportunities at the Office of Civic Engagement. “We focus on thinking about ways we can leverage the strength of the University to have an impact in the community,” he said. Douglas expressed hope that more students will continue to engage with the office in the future, saying, “We’ve been really trying to think about how we can also connect more to students at the University of Chicago, because many of you are very committed and interested and engaged around community issues, social issues.”
Douglas also discussed the Obama presidential library, which is scheduled to open in 2021, and addressed the issue of training local community members to work in the new jobs that will become available once the library opens. “Those types of things need to be worked on now so that the community benefits from whatever the library will be doing and the development that will happen around it,” he said. Douglas also spoke about efforts to reestablish the connection between the University Community Service Center (UCSC) and its founder, Michelle Obama, in light of the presidential library. The UCSC is writing letters in an effort to contact the Obamas, and the Office of Civic Engagement is investigating opportunities to create pipelines between the library and the University.
Douglas also spoke about the Office of Civic Engagement’s five main programs: UCSC, the Neighborhood Schools Program, the Community Programs Accelerator, UChicago Local, and the Student Advisory Council. UCSC, which was previously under the domain of Campus and Student Life, became part of the Office of Civic Engagement this year and works to create internship and volunteering opportunities for students. Douglas stated that the Office of Civic Engagement is working closely with Amy Chan, the director of UCSC.
The Executive Committee reported that $1,000 has been set aside for the urban excursion fund. Also, the community and government liaison reported that the College will be keeping the CTA U-Pass Program, which was introduced last September, for the next academic year.
Also discussed at the meeting was a new initiative by first-year College Council representative Sat Gupta, who has collected enough signatures for a referendum for placing free sanitary pads and tampons in buildings across campus. Under his plan, sanitary pads and tampons will be placed in Regenstein Library, Reynolds Club, Saieh Hall for Economics, Harper Memorial Library, and Ratner Athletics Center.