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The College of New Jersey Congress Proposal

Page history last edited by David Karas 10 years, 1 month ago


The College of New Jersey

The College of New Jersey

Bonner Center for Civic and Community Engagement


Promoting Social Awareness and Eliminating Apathy through an Advocacy Campaign


Names of Students Attending: David Karas, Karina Lopez,and Sejour Stephens




At The College of New Jersey, all first-year students are required to participate in an 8-hour Community Engaged Learning (CEL) Day or Project in order to graduate. This innovative program provides students the opportunity to choose one of twelve different social issues to address with their floormates, and provides them with the platform to provide meaningful service to their local community. However, no such requirement exists for upperclassmen, and as a result, many students become apathetic towards the many tremendous social injustices that exist just minutes from our beautiful campus. At the other end of the spectrum, our Bonner Center is often contacted by students who wish to volunteer at one of our sites, though many of our scheduled service trips are already booked.


Big Idea

We propose a campus-wide advocacy campaign, organized and facilitated by the Bonner Center for Civic and Community Engagement, and in cooperation with our newly-formed student organization, the TCNJ Bonner Volunteers, which was recently approved by the College to facilitate the constantly-growing group of students who wish to become Bonner Volunteers, or "B-Vols," and to serve alongside Bonner Scholars at our sites. This advocacy campaign will fulfill two needs that our program is currently experiencing:


1- To increase awareness of social issues in our local community among students on our campus, and to fight the sense of apathy that seems to be growing even more prevalent than before


2- To mobilize those students who, after participating in their required Community Engaged Learning Day or Project, wish to volunteer at one or more of our sites on a regular basis


This campiagn will achieve both of these goals by creating a comprehensive and manageable plan for our new student organization to not only connect current volunteers with our service sites, but also to recruit more volunteers by promoting a campus-wide social awareness. We hope to feature speakers and events to bring attention to our program, to allow students to discover the issue that is best fit for their service work, and to give them the opportunity to address it.


Action Plan

Starting at Bonner Congress, our team will begin to develop objectives for our campaign, which we hope to begin in the Spring of the current academic year. It is our hope that through networking and brainstorming with fellow Bonner Scholars from across the nation, we will be able to learn about what practices they have employed to promote social awareness on their campuses, and to help refine the strategies that we will soon implement. As Congress Representatives, we will be able to obtain a valuable level of insight into how we can best put our "Big Idea" into action.


During our advocacy campaign, we will work with our community partners and other on-campus organizations to spread awareness of the social issues we address, while connecting students with the platform of our new student organization that complements our Bonner Center, which is a department of The College of New Jersey.



Anything Else

Through our advocacy campiagn and our developing student organization, we will have the opportunity to identify not only passionate volunteers, but also potential candidates to join our Bonner Community Scholars Corps. Many of our current Bonner Scholars actually started out as "B-Vols," and through observing them at our service sites, we were able to identify them as leaders who would complement our program as Bonner Scholars.



Which Groups Will You Be In?

  • Bonner/Campus Wide Recruitment and Selection
  • Building a Bonner Leadership Team & Campus-Wide Engagement



Update - Report to Share in the 20th Anniversary Congress Booklet

We intend to create a beautifully designed book to be distributed at the 20th Anniversary Summer Leadership Institute that shares with the entire Bonner Network the work of Congress Representatives in 2009-2010 on their big ideas. Please write your report in the format below. For an example, click on this page:  http://bonnernetwork.pbworks.com/Big-Idea-Summaries


1) Title - Promoting Social Awareness and Eliminating Apathy through an Advocacy Campaign 


2) The Case: We chose to address the issue of apathy on our campus. It seems that now, more than ever, students are relatively isolated from the social issues affecting the world around them. At the same time, those who have a meaningful volunteer experience, as well as those who learn about what they can do to help, are more than willing to pitch in.


3) The Solution:  Our original Big Idea was to launch a campus-wide advocacy campaign, geared towards spreading awareness of the social issues plaguing our community. We realized that this plan would not be possible to launch effectively in one semester, but we found other ways to bring the campus community together around pertinent issues. Soon after the earthquake in Haiti, the TCNJ Bonner Center joined hands with administrators and student organizations on campus to launch the TCNJ Here for Haiti initiative, a campus-wide campaign with the mission of recruiting support for those in need in Haiti. Through a series of cultural events, donation collections, and meetings, we were able to mobilize thousands of students, faculty and staff around Haitian relief projects.



4) The Process: Through the Here for Haiti initiative, we were able to not only educate members of the campus community about the needs presented by the earthquake, but also to promote a greater understanding of Haitian culture. By bringing together a group of students and staff from a diverse range of departments, programs, organizations, and walks of life, we were able to unite our community around one of the most pressing issues of the year. This coming together to help others is always a goal of our Bonner Program, and this campaign presented an opportunity to bring this dream to life. A collection of our projects and events for the TCNJ Here for Haiti initiative can be found online at: tcnjhereforhaiti.pbworks.com.


In addition to this, the Bonner Center launched its Community Engaged Learning Speaker Series through an event  focusing on wrongful convictions. Tied to a freshmen seminar course, the event brought the authors of Picking Cotton to The College of New Jersey to speak of their journey together. Jennifer Thompson, when she was in college, was attacked by a man who she later identified as Ronald Cotton, who served over ten years in prison before DNA evidence exonerated him. Soon after his release, the two met for the first time, and soon became very close friends. Ever since, they have been traveling the country spreading their message about eyewitness identification and wrongful convictions, as well as of unconditional forgiveness and understanding. Over 700 students and members of the local community attended this event, which was another opportunity to bring together our community to engage in a dialogue about an important issue we face as a society.



Please upload 2-3 relevant photos (of your Reps, project, etc.).  Try to select photos that have high resolution quality. This will appear in the booklet.











March 2010


June 2010







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