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Regents propose mandatory public service

By Erin Mahoney
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
November 18, 1999
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Medical and law students in Arizona may soon find themselves working for free.

Members of the Arizona Board of Regents today will discuss the feasibility of a public service requirement for students in the University of Arizona's medical and law schools and Arizona State University's law school.

Three proposals have been submitted for an executive study session, said Hank Amos, ABOR president, but it's unclear which, if any, of the plans will be voted on by the board.

"I don't know which option they're going to pick," Amos said. "Something could happen, I don't know."

The first option would require the "pro bono" service to be completed during the graduate program. The second proposal asks that prospective medical and law students provide a history of public service before entering the schools. The third plan specifies that the applicants must have completed 80 hours of community service in the past two years before applying to the programs.

Deans from UA's medical and law schools were unavailable for comment yesterday.

Although Amos requested the study session, he declined to say which proposal he prefers.

"I don't want to make any personal statements," he said. "It's an issue on everybody's mind."

The plans would take effect beginning with applicants in 2002.

Student Regent Christine Thompson, said last night that although she is "extremely in favor" of community service, she doesn't support any plan that would require it of medical and law students.

"I'm concerned about what effects a mandate for community service will have on our student population," said Thompson, a second year law student at UA.

She said she is especially concerned with "new traditional" law and medical students, whose jobs and families may not allow them to complete the kind of community service recognized by the regents.

"I'm sure they're giving to the community in a lot of different ways," she said. "A lot of things they're doing for their community may not be counted as community service."

Geoff Reyschneider, a political science freshman who plans on applying to law school, would be one of the first classes to be affected by the plans if they are approved by the regents.

Reyschneider said he doesn't support a public service requirement before or during his time in law school.

"I disagree with it," he said. "Community service shouldn't be required, it should be based on how you want to do it."

But second-year medical student Randy Bell disagreed.

"Any volunteering is a good way to improve character," Bell said. "I think any kind of volunteering is important and should be a requirement."

Bell said any new plans put into action would have little effect on medical students, because community service is already part of the curriculum.

He added that medical schools prefer undergraduates who have completed a great deal of community service.

"If you don't have it, more likely than not, you won't get in," he said.

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