Through the student-lead Chamber for Social Development, University of Dallas students can now help better the community and reach out to those in need through projects tailored to their majors.
The goal of the chamber is to get students to build up volunteer hours for their resumes in addition to allowing UD to touch local lives and obtain funding from alumni and other contributing donors.
The founder, senior Matthew Kaiser explains that the chamber is an academicallybased organization for “students to volunteer through their discipline,” so that students can apply their talents to help other people.
Kaiser has already begun planning his first project at a local career preparatory school where he aims to apply his own area of study, economics, to teach the students basic fundamentals such as supply and demand, as well as life skills such as how to write checks.
“The idea is Catholic social teaching where we share all the gifts we have, which a lot of people think is just money or time, but we’re trying to spread knowledge,” Kaiser said. “It’s something that you love, and it’s practical application of what you’ve learned.”
The chamber will be headed by a group of students who oversee the departments. If possible, each department will be composed of a professor, a graduate and an undergraduate, who then contract regular undergraduate volunteers to contribute a certain number of hours each semester.
In the current development of the chamber, the students acting in the head are Mike Woodrum, Andrew Lelmini and Alex Santillan.
“Right now it’s purely student-run,” Kaiser said. “The advisors right now that we have are Dr. [Aida] Ramos, Dean [Jonathan] Sanford and Aaron Fricke.”
The volunteers are assigned projects, which could range from economics majors teaching basic financial tips to philosophy majors teaching stoicism at a juvenile detention center.
“[Participation]also doubles as a certificate or receipt to show how often they volunteer to put that on their resume,” Kaiser said.
Funding for the chamber currently comes from Student Government’s service committee led by Gabe Sagert, but Kaiser aims to branch out and become a separate entity with separate funding from alumni, the local rotary club and local parishes.
Because the chamber will catalogue volunteer projects and number of hours worked, Kaiser claims that they will be more likely to receive funding if they present specifics and proof of student action and enjoyment in the program.
Involvement in the chamber also allows students to form connections with other undergraduates, alumni and employers by associating with people of similar interests.
Kaiser explains that some students may not know many classmates in their department, but through the chamber, students who volunteer together form lasting friendships through achieving common goals as well as fulfilling a Catholic duty to share gifts with those in need.
“It benefits the students in terms of their virtue [and their] resume,” Kaiser said. “It benefits [UD] in terms of camaraderie as well, [because we are] able to say [that] we have an average of 2,000 volunteer hours every semester.”
Kaiser expects the chamber to become popular in the next few years on campus.
“There are so many people [at UD] who are really, really driven,” Kaiser said. “They’re just excited about giving back to their community and what they’re learning.
Having a numerous amount of volunteer hours will also aid UD in obtaining funding, and could attract the attention of high school students making their college decisions.
“Saying that to potential parents, to alumni who are donating, it could be huge,” Kaiser said. “If we get one student who came [to UD] because they heard about [the chamber], that’s a quarter million dollars worth of tuition.”
Students who have questions or want more information may contact Kaiser at firstname.lastname@example.org and are encouraged to follow the new Facebook page.