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Getting Involved

There are many opportunities for student involvement in MCSP. These student-run groups provide MCSP students opportunities to pursue something they are interested in, to learn more about social justice and global issues, to work in local communities through community service, and to connect with other MCSPers throughout the year. 

Required Service Projects for ALA 102

ALA 102 Service Projects

MCSP first year students are required to participate in at least one community engagement opportunity as part of their ALA 102 Course. We currently partner with the following community organizations:

  • Campus Farm: Part of the University of Michigan’s Sustainable Food Program, the Campus Farm at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens provides Michigan students with a tangible way to connect to the natural world and the issue of food security. MCSP students participate in farm chores such as harvesting, weeding and preparing beds for the winter.
  • Earthworks Urban Farm: Earthworks Urban Farm is a 2.5 acre certified organic farm located in the City of Detroit seeking to build a just, beautiful food system through education, inspiration, and community development. MCSP students help with farm chores and learn about how Earthworks fits in the network of urban agriculture in Detroit and the work for equity in food access and racial justice.
  • Food Gatherers Warehouse: Food Gatherers is the food rescue and assistance program serving Washtenaw County. Through its programs and advocacy, Food Gatherers works to alleviate hunger in our community and establish a more just food system. MCSP students work in the warehouse sorting cans, restocking the pantry, salvaging products, packing food boxes, cleaning out coolers, etc.
  • Freedom House: Freedom House Detroit is a temporary home for indigent survivors of persecution from around the world who are seeking asylum in the United States and Canada. With care and compassion, they provide services to residents and other refugees seeking need as well as advocating for the rights of asylum seekers. MCSP students build relationships with the residents of Freedom House through games/activities and conversation that highlight life in the United States and American culture.
  • Growing Hope: Growing Hope works to educate, inspire, and empower the community through urban gardening and advocacy for local and healthy food access. MCSP students work on their urban farm in Ypsilanti and/or in their farmer's markets.
  • Habitat for Humanity Re-Store: The ReStore provides financial support to our local Habitat for Humanity helping them to provide homes to low income families in Washtenaw County. The ReStore sells furniture, tools, appliances, windows, doors, cabinets, housewares, flooring, tile, garden supplies, paint, plumbing and more! MCSP students work in the store moving materials and helping customers.
  • Natural Area Preservation: Natural Area Preservation (NAP) works to protect and restore Ann Arbor’s natural areas and to foster an environmental ethic among its citizens. MCSP students work with NAP on stewardship projects in Ann Arbor parks and wildlife areas.
  • Ronald McDonald House: Ronald McDonald House provides a supportive “home away from home” for families of children receiving care at local health facilities. The goal of RMDH is to care for families and keep them together during a difficult time. MCSP students prepare and serve a “home-cooked” meal for families.

Student-led Programs and Initiatives (Required Participation)

Community Engagement and Affiliated Initiatives (PACS)

The PACS team organizes its work of community engagement and service-learning with community partners primarily through three Community Engagement Clubs. These clubs empower first-year students through direct service initiatives, justice education, and reflection while fostering mutual growth and understanding in MCSP, UM, and the wider community. It is a unique experience in which first year students gain leadership experience by planning and participating in reflective service and educational events. The PACS team currently focuses its engagement on these issues:

  • Sustainability and Food Security – We partner with Growing Hope, Natural Area Preservation, Food Gatherers, and Earthworks Urban Farm to explore the intersection between sustainability, environmental justice, healthy communities, and food security. Potential partnerships include Huron River Watershed Council, Farm at St. Joe’s, and the Greening of Detroit.
  • Women, Children, and Education – We work with Alpha House, Scarlett Middle School, and Ronald McDonald House as we look to support women and children. Potential partnerships include American Indian Health and Family Services, Community Action Network, and SafeHouse Center. 
  • Civil Rights, Borders, and Immigration – We focus on justice for refugees, immigrants, and marginalized communities through our partnerships with Freedom House and Mercy House. Potential partnerships include Michigan Refugee Assistance Program, Breakfast at St. Andrew’s, and Therapeutic Riding.

In addition to the Community Engagement Clubs, MCSP also sponsors Affiliated Community Engagement groups including Hack Blue, S.H.O.C.K., Smile Bringer Singers, WolveReaders, MCSP International, and Alternative Spring Break.

Intergroup Relations Council (IRC)

The Intergroup Relations Council coordinates cultural events, both in West Quad, on-campus, and in the community. The IRC also plans and leads dialogue-style conversations on a range of social identity and social justice issues, along with addressing climate-focused initiatives. The IRC would be happy to have you at an event, dialogue, or at weekly planning meetings! Here's a look at what the IRC does during the year:

  1. Lead and coordinate dialogue-style conversations with students on a range of topics both within MCSP and in collaboration with other campus units.
  2. Educate and support students from various social identity groups within MCSP.
  3. Develop programs for MCSP and campus community that focus and educate on diversity, including issues of power and privilege (collaborating with PB and U).
  4. Train students for community service and civic engagement (with PACS) on constructive and effective ways to work with populations across diverse backgrounds.
  5. Plan MCSP MLK day event (Circle of Unity and others) and coordinate outside speakers

Programming Board (PB&U)

Our Programming Board and You (PB&U) is a student-run board takes a grassroots approach by giving first-year students the chance to create social and service events for their learning community. The group coordinates social, educational, cultural and art programs, and collaborates with Hall Councils, Multicultural Councils, RAs, and other student groups to put on larger events. In the process of planning engaging programs, they develop lifelong leadership and community-building skills.

Past PB&U events have included a canoe trip to clean-up the Huron River, a Diabetes Awareness Dinner to demystify this commonly misunderstood disease, and a pumpkin-painting party to make Halloween decorations for local families in need. PB&U plans and hosts events that build community within the MCSP community, including: MCSPaint the Rock, MCSPhamily Nights, Pistons Game, Intramural Sports teams, Improv Comedy Night, MCSPhood Fest (co-sponsored with IRC), cooking and baking, movie nights, cultural and holiday events, picnic in the Arb, and even the winter retreat. Have an idea that you would like to pitch? Come to a meeting to talk about it.

  • Winter Retreat Planning Committee
    Every year MCSP puts on a fun-filled, educational, overnight retreat for students to reflect on the past year, do some fun community building activities, look forward to the following semester and next year, and spend some quality time with fellow MCSPers. This retreat takes place at the Holley Family Village, a wonderful off campus location that provides lots of room for activities.

MCSP-Affiliated Student Organizations (Optional, but Fun!)

S.H.O.C.K.

Students Helping Others Choose Knowledgeably, or S.H.O.C.K., uses original skits focusing on substance abuse to educate elementary school students and encourage them to remain drug free. S.H.O.C.K. visits fifth grade classrooms throughout Ann Arbor to perform original skits. The skits feature Spider Man, Harry Potter, Spongebob, and many more fun and exciting characters! S.H.O.C.K. needs energetic students to act, direct, create new skits, and handle behind-the-scenes tasks. No acting experience is required to join. 

S.H.O.C.K. has been a fixture to MCSP since 1999 and is in great need of first-year students this year! 

Smile Bringer Singers

The Smile Bringer Singers was founded at MCSP with the sole purpose of SPREADING HAPPINESS THROUGH HARMONIES! The group was started in 2010, and since its creation, has continued to grow throughout University of Michigan and Ann Arbor communities. They are dedicated to making a positive difference in our community by traveling to places often overlooked in the Ann Arbor area such as nursing homes, retirement homes, family centers, orphanages and homeless shelters.

WolveReaders

WolveReaders was founded in 2015. The group works to improve literacy and instill a love of reading by connecting MCSP students and second-graders at Estabrook Elementary School in Ypsilanti Michigan through a pen-pal relationship. A small group of MCSP students visit the classroom twice a month to work with the students and the classroom teacher.

Alternative Spring Break

Instead of going somewhere fun and relaxing for spring break, MCSP students often take part in the annual Alternative Spring Break (ASB), projects revolving around service and volunteer work across the country at different locations. During their spring break, MCSP students have participated in Alternative Spring Break experiences in Texas, Kentucky, Illinois, Wisconsin, New York, Florida and California, just to name a few. At these locations, students help local nonprofits and community organizations to achieve their missions of bettering their communities. Past themes have included homelessness, hunger, children and education, and health and wellness. When they return to campus, ASB participants have reflected deeply with each other about their experience, and with the greater MCSP and campus community about their new knowledge and skills. MCSP continues to foster experiential learning opportunities like ASB to help students connect service learning and social justice. 

Hack Blue

Founded by MCSP first-year students in 2018, Hack Blue works with the Peace Neighborhood Center in Ann Arbor to introduce middle and high-school students to the fun and excitement of coding. 

MCSP International

Having participated in a pen-pal relationship with an orphanage in Uganda, a group of MCSP students hope to establish an organization that promotes intercultural understanding. They have been exploring a relationship with students in Ann Arbor’s sister city of Tübingen, Germany.

Community/Public Events

Social & Environmental Justice Film & Discussion Series

MCSP partners with the Ann Arbor District Library to show films on a monthly basis at the public library highlighting social issues. Film directors, faculty, students, and community leaders lead discussions following the films. Past films have included Bilal’s Stand, Asparagus, Fremont, USA, The Waterfront, Of Civil Rights and Wrongs, Prom Night in Mississippi, Grown in Detroit, Philosopher Kings, An Untold Triumph, Finding the Gold Within, and The Human Experiment.

MLK Circle of Unity

Hosted in conjunction with our cross-campus partners, MCSP's MLK Day Circle of Unity is an event where students, staff, and faculty of MCSP and the wider university community gather on the Diag on MLK Day and participate in performances, speakers, and other activities to remind us of Dr. King's dream, where society has come since the Civil Rights Movement, and what still needs to be done in terms of equality and social justice. Through song, dance, and spoken word, this event celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. King.