From the past to the present: Continuing community engagement at Indiana University East

From the past to the present: Continuing community engagement at Indiana University East

The IU East campus has a long history of community engagement. IU Bicentennial intern Maureen Girdler is learning about that throughout the Spring 2018 semester. From interviews with students, staff and faculty, and research using historical documents in the IU East archives, she presents here some highlights of the past editions of the Pioneer Press student newspaper, as well as some reflections from members of the IU East community who have been engaged in service.

Circle-K Club, then and now

Circle-K Club originally started in 1976. It is a college-based service organization affiliated with the national Kiwanis. After several years’ hiatus, a new Circle-K club was chartered at IU East, in 2016. Rachel Johnson, President of Circle-K at IU East, noted that college students further their education and develop leadership skills through the different off-campus and on-campus volunteering activities. These include the Kiwanis Trick or Treat for Safety, Soup on Saturday, and Science Fair Judging at Hibberd school. Circle-K has also been involved in fundraising efforts, such as Bingo Night for Riley Hospital and “Claus for a Cause” for LifeStream services for older adults.

Student Government continues to focus on service

Since its founding, IU East has had some form of student governance. Originally, it was called Student Senate, then later became the Student Government Association (SGA). A primary example of significant service that student clubs provide, under the auspices of SGA, are various collections to meet community needs. This includes drives to collect food, clothes, toys, and monetary donations in order to help members of the community. In a 2018 interview, former SGA president Christopher Halberstadt said, “During my time in student government, I was very active in ensuring that our student food pantry was well stocked by working with my peers to create a compelling and competitive challenge to generate donations for the pantry. The schools collectively competed to gather donations for the food pantry drive and each semester was more successful than the last.” In February 2018, the Honors Club sponsored a clothing drive that collected gently used clothing, shoes, and outerwear that were donated to Hope House, an organization that helps men recover and rehabilitate in order to live a productive life. IU East has collaborated with other colleges and organizations such as Ivy Tech, and the Whitewater Valley Detachment Marine Corps League to collect toys to donate to families within the community.

Cultural Awareness and Engagement

IU East has a tradition of promoting cultural awareness through campus and community engagement. The first Hispanic Heritage Recognition meeting was held in 1994. In 2006, IU East held a Hispanic Heritage Festival that featured films, discussions, music, dancing and dining all pertaining to the Hispanic culture. IU East continues to promote engagement through English Language Learning (ELL) programs. An example of an ELL reading program is IU East Spanish students traveling to local schools to read bilingual books with the elementary students. Spanish faculty Dr. Christine Nemcik observed, “The elementary students really interact with the colleges students, they help college students with pronunciation and with figuring things out and it’s really a great experience.” For the past three years, IU East has partnered with several organizations to offer a Hispanic College Night. This provides the opportunity for students and their families to receive assistance in navigating the college selection and application process.

Service-learning for reciprocal impact

Another significant way that IU East students engage with the community is through service-learning. Service-learning is an active learning method that incorporates community service and engagement with a students’ education. The Center for Service-Learning has more that 80 community partners that include Friends Fellowship Community, Jacy House, and Richmond Community Schools, just to name a few. Students involved in service-learning work with different community partners to define the service the student will provide, engage in service that meets the needs of the organization, and reflect on the impact of their experiences. The infographic below showcases the amount of hours students, faculty and staff commit and the impact of service-learning for the years 2014-2016.

If you would like to learn more about the history of community engagement at IU East, please contact library staff:


Dansby Jr., Jesse. (1993, October 30). Hispanic Heritage Recognition. New Voice, 22(3), pp. 7.

(1976, December 9). Circle-K club underway. The Pioneer Press, 4(1), pp. 8.

(1976, December 9). IU East, Ivy Tech join forces. The Pioneer Press, 4(1), pp. 4.

(1989, November 27). Student senate focuses on “Drive to Provide”. New Voice, 18(5), pp. 1.

(1992, December 15). Toys for tots returns to help the needy. New Voice, 21(6), pp. 1.

(2006, September 13). Hispanic Heritage Festival at Indiana University East. The Pioneer Press, 39(2), pp. 3.

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