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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 17, 2019   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Editorial: IC’s mentorship program mends community divide

Recently, students at Ithaca College have begun volunteering through the South Hill Mentorship Program. The program allows students to connect with fourth- and fifth-graders at South Hill Elementary School to help them transition to middle school. The program was started in Spring 2018 by David Harker, director of the Center for Civic Engagement, and is a branch of the New York State Mentoring Program.

The Center for Civic Engagement has implemented a program that will help many members of the Ithaca community. The program is specifically geared toward children who could benefit from more attention and care — which their mentors can provide — and serves to help their development in all facets of life. The program is not exclusive to any one type of development, aids mentees academically and socially, and provides support in any areas of their lives in which they may need it. The program serves not only as a way to help schoolchildren and give them role models but also as a way for students at the college to get more involved in their community and do work that matters.

Considering the college’s at times contentious relationship with the surrounding Ithaca community, the mentorship program is a crucial way of demonstrating the college’s interest in giving back to the community. In the past, students at the college have been consistently criticized for disrupting surrounding neighborhoods and citizens of Ithaca. Additionally, the college widely benefits from the surrounding community due to its residing on tax-exempt land and utilizing its emergency facilities, making students’ poor treatment of it even more unacceptable. This mentorship program is a way to begin to rectify that, and students should take advantage of the opportunity to serve their community.

Ultimately, the mentorship program positively impacts both students at the college and members of the surrounding community. Although the mentees will benefit from the new role models in their lives, being a mentor is also an undeniably enriching experience. Perhaps most importantly, the mentoring program serves to improve the college’s relationship with the surrounding community, an improvement that is much-needed at the moment.