Assignment # 6
Rethinking California’s Community Service Graduation Requirement
Once you hear my reasons for skipping out on Rose at the Channing Senior Center, you will agree with me that California’s law requiring college students to do community service is unnecessary and can be emotionally scaring.
Let me start by saying that I have nothing against community service. Earlier this year, I helped sell candy bars to raise money for my old high school basketball team’s uniforms even though I’m now in college. It just seemed like the right thing to do, because I remember how I hated wearing those too-short shorts from the 1980s. It’s embarrassing to think of anyone from my high school wearing shorts like that. I just felt I had to help my old teammates.
According to my counselor here, my fundraising did not meet the state’s “standards” for “community service.” I don’t think it’s fair that not only do you have to do community service, but that you can’t even choose what counts as community service! Sometimes I feel like the State Universities are run by the Gazpacho.
Mr. Whitlow, my academic counselor, arranged for me to visit with a woman at the Channing House Senior Center. I wasn’t so mad when Mr. Whitlow told me to go to the senior center, because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with old people. My grandmother is 92. That certainly counts as old, doesn’t it? She spends a lot of time talking about her arthritis, but I don’t mind. I mean, she’s earned that right. And when she starts talking about “colored” people, or says bad things about my long hair (which isn’t even that long, as you know, Professor Jenkins), I don’t say anything about it because she just sees things differently than me. So you see, I’m used to being with senior citizens.
Even though I don’t mind community service or the elderly, I think the community service requirement is bad. When I went to meet Rose at the senior center, her room smelled like a wet sheep. I know it’s not her fault. She probably can’t get around so well to clean. I think she’s lived a sedimentary lifestyle because she’s really overweight, so I can understand why maybe her apartment was dirty. Still, it was really unpleasant to be there because of the smell.
Still, I sat with her for almost an hour each time. We talked a lot about me and what I did. She kept asking about the freshman dorm, my roommate, and my classes, and I answered all of her questions. She was kind of odd, and sometimes I wondered if she was losing her mind because she kept repeating things. I knew she couldn’t help it, and I never told her that hanging out with her was a graduation requirement, because I knew that would just be mean. The whole reason Mr. Whitlow sent me to Rose was to cheer her up.
So the whole time I was there, I was eating these peanuts that Rose had left on the table. It was the only thing that kept me going during all that talking and through the bad smell. I ate these peanuts nonstop. They kind of energized me and also, I’d start to smell the peanuts instead of the wet sheep.
Once Rose and I got to know each other, we started to have things to say when I came to visit. She’d talk about her physical therapy sessions and getting her legs stronger, and I’d tell her about what classes I was taking and how they were going. Each time, I would eat these peanuts out of the dish on the coffee table. They always tasted so good, but I think it was just because eating them made time go by faster. I would always look at how many peanuts were in the dish when I first sat down so that I could make them last through the whole visit.
The last time I went to see Rose, there were no peanuts out. The peanut dish was out, but there was nothing in it. I was kind of upset, but I didn’t get mad because it had been nice of her to have ever have had anything out for me at all. I mean, she didn’t HAVE to do it. Still, I got really hungry by the end of the visit. I think she may have heard my stomach growling because she got up, went to the kitchen, and came back with some peanut M&Ms. I was excited to get some peanuts, and also happy that these peanuts had chocolate on them! She gave me a handful then put some into her mouth.
What happened next made me rethink everything I’d been through with Rose. She took a peanut out of her mouth, and put it into the dish on the coffee table. I said, “What are you doing,” and she said, “Oh, I never eat the peanuts, just the chocolate,” like what she was saying was completely normal. Next, she took three more peanuts out of her mouth and put them in the dish. If I had stayed, I bet I could have watched her fill up the whole bowl. THAT’S WHAT I’D BEEN EATING!!!!!!
That is why I think it’s a bad idea to make college students fulfill a community service requirement. Because of this new requirement, I ended up in a very disgustingly unsanitary situation. If I could, I’d ask Governor Schwarzenegger to say “Hasta la vista” to the community service requirement the same way I said goodbye to Rose and her bowl of slobber-soaked nuts.