Student Participation in Mission-Related Activities Rises
Monday, October 12, 2009
by Patricia Allen
Generation Y students have varied interests – and distractions – to keep them occupied throughout the day. From downloading the latest mobile phone apps, hanging on Facebook, catching the most recent installment of Glee – and tweeting about it – to working out or sleeping in, their focus could be characterized as insular.
Which is what makes the spike in the number of SJU students signing up for mission-related activities so impressive. “We’ve seen a jump in the number of students involved in weekly service,” says Thomas Sheibley, director of Campus Ministry. “There are over 450 students participating in the program, compared to 350 last year. This is record enrollment, and the increase in participation has been wonderful.”
Sheibley also noted increased participation in service and mission activities by the freshmen in the Class of 2013. He cited several factors for the increase, including the success of the Philadelphia Service Immersion Program (PSIP). An optional pre-orientation experience, PSIP introduces incoming freshmen to Ignatian social justice and is a collaboration among the College of Arts and Sciences, the Erivan K. Haub School of Business, Campus Ministry, Student Life and the Office of Mission.
“This fall, the program was coordinated so that the number of student participants doubled from 50 to 100,” Sheibley said. “I believe this program was key to some of the growth we've seen in other areas. Upper class leaders who have been heavily involved in mission-related activities had a positive influence on 100 freshmen for four days at the beginning of their SJU career.”
According to Sheibley, weekly service, as well as Magis, a student-led, year-long service and social program designed for freshmen that is now in its third year, may have benefited from this influence.
“Magis has 75 freshman students enrolled, which is an increase of six or seven times over last year,” said Campus Minister Beth Ford. “Participation in our Appalachian Experience during spring break could be huge this year,” she added.
During fall break (Oct. 16-20) 12 SJU students will participate with others from local universities in the Fall Break Urban Challenge at the Romero Center in Camden, N.J. There will be no time for Twitter, Facebook or relaxing, but this group of Gen Y students will feel rejuvenated and inspired by their immersion in the University’s mission.