Students and anti-social behaviour is often a story that is portrayed in the media giving off the idea that all students ever do is cause havoc in the city and around UCC and that the student body give nothing only headaches to the community because of their behaviour. You never hear of the students who give their free time to help in Cork Penny Dinners, or the students who are volunteering with homeless charities, NGO’s or the students who just want to give back to the community.
On Monday November 26th, UCC launched a research report on Student Volunteering in UCC. The research project was undertaken by Professor Fred Powell, Dr Margaret Scanlon and Dr Martin Galvin and it shows some extremely interesting facts around UCC Students and the nature of volunteering with our students.
The launch itself was a fantastic event which was opened by Ronan O’Dhughaill who is the chair of the Civic & Community Engagement Committee. UCC’s President O’Shea spoke on the importance of volunteering and how UCC is a university that gives back more than it consumes.
Our very own SU President, Alan Hayes, then spoke of his own experience with volunteering and setting up the ‘Teac Tom’ charity in Kilkenny. He was followed by Quercus Scholar, Vera Stojanovic, who set up the ‘Better Together’ charity to help women living in Direct Provision.
We also heard from Professor Fred Powell on some of the key findings of the report, which I will speak about shortly and Yvonne McKenna, the CEO of gaisce, on her experiences with volunteering and the impact it has had on her life.
One thing that stood out for me from the launch was how much UCC values volunteers and students who give their time for the betterment of others. This is extremely clear to see from the Active Citizenship scholarship given to students every year, in UCC active citizens are recognised on the same level as our entrepreneurs, sports stars and high academic achievers.
Out of the 2038 students who participated in the survey, 48% of them say they have volunteered in the previous six months, and 58% of those students say they volunteer on an ongoing basis. Out of the students who took the survey only 9% of them had never volunteered before. Think about that for a second, out of 2038 students in UCC, over 1,850 of them have volunteered at some point in their lives, and think about it again the next time you hear about students being shown in a negative light in the press.
Students, and UCC students in particular, are doing fantastic work in the community and beyond and this should not be ignored. If you are interested in doing some volunteer work, visit studentvolunteer.ie to see what you might be able to get involved in!