Students who are philosophically opposed to community-service requirements may soon be able to fulfill them while campaigning against them.
The Ayn Rand Institute, a nonprofit organization devoted to protecting an individual's right to pursue his or her own happiness, recently created anti-service internships for students as a part of its ongoing "Campaign Against Servitude."
"Volunteerism is designed to turn Americans into guilt-ridden indentured servants," according to an institute press release.
A growing number of states, schools, and districts require students to perform a specified number of hours of community service before they graduate from high school.
The Los Angeles-area institute, named after the noted 20th century author and philosopher who held that selfishness is a virtue, decided to launch its internships after it was contacted last winter by a student seeking an alternative way to fill her compulsory-service hours, said Richard E. Ralston, the director of development for the institute.
"On principle, we oppose mandatory requirements," Mr. Ralston said. "But if a student is not going to be able to graduate, this is an alternative. It's volunteerism against volunteerism."
Starting in the fall, students selected for internships with the organization will be able to fulfill required volunteer hours in one of three ways: researching the negative impact of mandatory-service requirements on their communities; building their own skills through "self-help" internships; or performing general support and clerical services for the organization.
In a somewhat more traditional effort on behalf of students, selected affiliates of the Citizens' Scholarship Foundation of America have canvassed their communities in recent weeks, asking every household to contribute $1 to support student scholarships.
The "Dollars for Scholars" drive was conducted as a part of National Scholarship Month, a four-week campaign sponsored by the Minneapolis-based CSFA and the Miss America Organization that culminates this week.
"We're using National Scholarship Month to challenge the private sector to step forward and double their efforts," said William C. Nelson, the president of the CSFA.
After its May fund-raising drive, the foundation estimates that it will have raised 80 percent of the $110 million in scholarships it pledged to raise by 2000.
--JESSICA L.SANDHAM [email protected]
Vol. 17, Issue 37, Page 8