One Week of Volunteering

One Week of Volunteering

Too Much for Most, Just Enough for OUSA

The Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) is filling up their bag-o-karma with the introduction of the OUSA Volunteer Week.

The programme, which ran from April 16 to April 22, was organised by OUSA alongside a separate volunteering scheme, scarfiecard. It gave students the opportunity to get involved in community service within the Dunedin area, and prove they are not the bottle-breaking, couch-burning idiots lurching down Castle Street that the media commonly portray. OUSA Student President Logan Edgar praised the event. “It is awesome to give back to the community and embrace our time here at Otago.”

The inclusion of the scarfiecard programme has been questioned by some (mainly Critic) as it has faced criticism in the past. Started by evangelical student group studentlife, scarfiecard was accused last year of asking students to perform jobs for free that they would ordinarily be paid for. As far as Critic can tell, little has changed. A quick look at the scarfiecard website seems to further confirm that the so called “volunteer work” available for the socially conscious Scarfie, is actually work that should be paid for, and when done by volunteers, undermines the student labour market.

One major task for volunteer week, which did fit the volunteer element, required at least 60 students to dig and hammer 6km of “ecofence” into place on the Otago Peninsula. This not only provided an opportunity to get amongst the wildlife, but also to take advantage of the free feed and transport provided by BNZ.

Students who participated were also able to use their volunteer work for CV fluffing, or to reduce community service hours that some had accrued through less saintly endeavours. Edgar also hoped that the event would encourage students to get out of campus and discover the real beauty of Dunedin: “there is more to explore in Dunners than inside the Old Scarfie Walls.” Critic sought to provide a map of the campus boundary created by these walls, but was unable to locate the ancient ruins.

Running parallel to volunteer week was an ongoing feud between Edgar and Vice-Chancellor Harlene Hayne over whether staff or students would contribute the most donations to the Community Food Bank Appeal. The appeal took place last Thursday with students emerging as the victors, donating 396 items compared to the 344 items donated by staff. On a donator/item analysis, the students’ results start to look less impressive. While staff donated an average of 0.11 items each, the average donation per student was a mere 0.0198 of an item. Perhaps students aren’t such upstanding citizens after all.
This article first appeared in Issue 8, 2012.
Posted 5:04pm Sunday 22nd April 2012 by Bella Macdonald.