Attracting hundreds of students annually, CityDays has been one of the most prominent outlets for freshmen to engage in local public service. This year, for the first time ever, the popular event will be held in October rather than during Orientation.
The CityDays Serve-Off will be on Tuesday, Oct. 9 — a student holiday. "We're excited that all undergraduates and graduate students can work together to serve the neighboring communities," says Sally Susnowitz, director of the MIT Public Service Center (PSC), which organizes the event.
Through the CityDays Serve-Off, MIT students can volunteer with a community organization in the greater Boston area. Service opportunities will be offered throughout the day and evening, so students can elect to volunteer when it is most convenient.
This year, 10 service placements offer opportunities, including the AIDS Action Committee, Alzheimer's Association, Cambridge Historical Society, Community Art Center, Community Servings, Cradles to Crayons, Esplanade Association, Greater Boston Food Bank, Jumpstart for Young Children and Literacy Volunteers of Massachusetts.
Since service builds community within a group, the CityDays Serve-Off is built with groups in mind. Students can register with their residence hall; fraternity, sorority or independent living group (FSILG); athletics team or student group to form a team. The team with the most participation in each of four categories will win funds to be used for future public service activities or to be donated to a charitable organization of the group's choosing.
The shift in timing for CityDays was recommended by the Review Committee on Orientation (RCO), which released its report in the spring. Looking toward the future, the PSC is also implementing the RCO's other recommendation to offer a service program during the academic term that will be open to the entire MIT community. In the same spirit, the second annual Community Service Day will be open to students, faculty, staff and others on campus during the Independent Activities Period.
"I'm excited by the prospect of offering service opportunities that will allow all members of the MIT community to serve the local community together," says Kristi Gundrum Kebinger, community volunteer administrator at the PSC. "In addition to opportunities to volunteer at local organizations, we hope to add an educational component, such as a lecture or panel discussion, to help MIT community members learn more about the social issues facing the local community."