Forced Volunteering


Rebekah Martin, Design Director

Schools began requiring mandatory volunteer hours for students in recent years. Those supportive of the volunteering argue that the implemented hours help students to grow as citizens in their community and learn the importance of helping others. However, the opposing side disputes the issue to be unconstitutional and unethical.

According to the Huffington Post, “voluntold” is a dictionary slang term used to describe when someone “volunteers” another person without their consent–differing from volunteering, which is the act of freely offering help. Schools are incorporating volunteerism, or what some would refer to as “voluntoldism,” which raises an unethical flag.

Parents are worried their children will not learn the benefits of volunteering because they will look at it as another homework assignment. Students will contribute the minimum required and participate only to get a good grade. Many worry this trend could lead to students not volunteering in other community projects because they will look at it as a mandatory assignment.

The New York Times stated that one family has taken the matter of forced volunteering to court, arguing “that the program, which gives students four years to complete the 60 hours, is modern-day slavery, a violation of the 13th Amendment. They cite cases where courts have prohibited forced labor in mental institutions and migrant labor camps.”

While mandatory volunteering may not be the end of the world, for most students it can be another added level of stress. These time-consuming projects could drive students away from doing further community service. Students need to be encouraged to help their communities, but they should not be required. Volunteering is a wonderful service everyone can do for their community willingly.