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Off-base policy


Jumbo shrimp. Progressive Conservative. Military intelligence. Old news. Temporary tax increase. Act naturally. These are all examples of oxymorons—defined as a figure of speech combining seemingly contradictory expressions.

Well, another one can be added to the list: mandatory volunteerism.

As everyone surely knows by now, the provincial government has decreed that, effective this school year, high school students cannot graduate unless they’ve first completed 40 hours of community service.

True, 40 hours spread over four years is not an inordinate amount of time. And let’s be clear that encouraging students to volunteer their time, or instilling in them the value of volunteerism to their community, is a good thing.

Forcing students to volunteer in order to get their diploma is not.

At least one Grade 12 student at Fort Frances High School agrees. There’s word she’s circulating a petition against this policy of mandatory volunteerism, which she plans to present to NDP leader and local MPP Howard Hampton.

An example of student activism at its best—and for a legitimate cause, to boot.

Yes, it’s possible students will leave high school with a renewed sense of volunteerism given this policy. But it’s just as likely students will grumble through their mandatory 40 hours, grab their diploma, and never volunteer again.

Countless high school students already volunteer for worthy causes, and that’s wonderful. Trying to get more involved is a noble effort, too.

But while offering an incentive—like extra credit—to volunteer detracts from the meaning of the word, forcing students to do it is completely off-base and should be dropped as a graduation requirement.

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