The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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President Joe Biden speaks on Friday at Carnegie Mellon University’s Mill 19 to tout his administration’s investment in infrastructure.
President Biden set to visit Pittsburgh this afternoon
By Brian Sherry, Contributing Editor • 1:05 pm
Satire | A better use for editorial space
By Anna Ehlers, Contributing Editor • 1:06 am

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President Joe Biden speaks on Friday at Carnegie Mellon University’s Mill 19 to tout his administration’s investment in infrastructure.
President Biden set to visit Pittsburgh this afternoon
By Brian Sherry, Contributing Editor • 1:05 pm
Satire | A better use for editorial space
By Anna Ehlers, Contributing Editor • 1:06 am

Opinion | Give back to your community

Opinion+%7C+Give+back+to+your+community
Annika Esseku | Senior Staff Illustrator

In high school, I was taught about the importance of community service — except the focus seemed to be about the benefits for the person doing the service. Community service is something that most college students have done. Maybe you did it to boost your college application. Maybe you really felt compelled to serve your community. Regardless, everyone should reflect on how they have served their community, and part of that is realizing what communities you really belong to. 

I didn’t come to Pitt only so I could spend time on campus and exist as a student. I think much of the appeal of going to college in an urban environment has to do with getting to live in an area that extends beyond your campus. Living in any community means that you should be giving back to that community.

You are inserting yourself into a larger community that extends beyond being a student by attending Pitt. Many people exist in Oakland in different ways. There are the families that live in Oakland, the people who work on and around campus, like UPMC employees, and the unhoused people you probably pass on your way to class. People other than college students live and work in the Oakland area. You are another Oakland resident, not just a Pitt student.

As students, we also get benefits from the community that are symbiotic in some ways. In an ideal scenario, the university would use its resources and wealth to help the area that it exists in by teaching students that will then stay in the community after graduating. The University of Pittsburgh spends many resources on education within the medical field and many Pitt students work in the UPMC hospitals. Despite this, it can sometimes feel like students harm the community without giving much back because, of course, many students do not end up staying where they go to school. 

The problems of the city will exist on your campus, even if your school feels like a closed-off environment. Recognizing these problems is OK, but also understand that you are still in a position of privilege. Traveling to another city and getting this valuable experience is a privilege itself. 

One large issue caused by students is littering. Some of it can be blamed on the increased foot traffic in busy areas of the university, but it is also an issue of negligence. Especially the areas of South Oakland that are known for parties tend to have massive amounts of trash piled up after the weekend that often sits untouched for weeks on end. This problem could be helped if students took more accountability for their trash. They should make sure that their garbage makes it to the collection so it doesn’t float down the street. 

Walking by unhoused people on the street can bring up negative feelings for some. I can see how students can be unhappy with the unhoused people on campus, but sometimes it seems as though some students feel like they are owed a “perfect city.” It is important that students are sympathetic to this issue because it is so much bigger than Pitt. Of course individual college students can’t solve every problem in Pittsburgh, but there are opportunities to get involved with social action on campus. This could be done through groups that get students involved with local politics, or groups that focus on these specific issues. 

It is important that students understand that Pittsburgh is not owned by the University. Students get many benefits from the community and it is only fair that the school gives back. There are many ways that the school encourages community involvement through organized trips for community service in the Pittsburgh area, like Civic Action Week. These experiences can be incredibly valuable for new students so they can experience areas outside of Oakland while also aiding a community. It is equally important that students are critical of community service. They should think about the impact of their actions and if anyone will actually benefit. Community service should always put the community first, not the people doing the work. 

Remember that the university is a place for the community and doesn’t only exist for us. People visit the campus and take advantage of the places open to the public, like the Cathedral of Learning. Students should care about being good members in not only the Pitt community, but the larger community of Pittsburgh. 

Jameson Keebler writes primarily about pop culture and current events. Write to her at [email protected].

About the Contributor
Jameson Keebler
Jameson Keebler, Senior Staff Columnist
Jameson Keebler is a junior Political Science major. She is from New Jersey and loves to read. She is interested in writing about literature and pop culture.