Occidental students have access to a resource that many fail to use to its full extent: the city of Los Angeles. The benefits of escaping the “Oxy Bubble” are numerous and allow for a type of education only accessible outside the classroom. Volunteering provides necessary services to sections of the community that would not receive those resources otherwise. Furthermore, it enriches students’ perspectives by forcing them to get away from the theoretical nature of classes and contextualize their learning experiences in the world outside of academia.
Students often see emails from such groups as Multi, the Office of Religious Life or Delevan Drive Club sponsoring various opportunities to work with the members of the greater community. From helping to clean the LA River to crafting and reading with children at nearby schools, chances to volunteer in the community are frequent.
Volunteer work is not the only way to participate in the greater community. An act as simple as supporting a community-oriented business in the rapidly gentrifying northeast LA serves as a valuable contribution. Whether it’s a trip to Mt. Washington’s Southwest Museum of the American Indian or a show through the theater department, these events are a great way to increase awareness about one’s surroundings. When more students supplement their classroom education with off-campus learning experiences, the nature of the entire college improves.
Professors and RAs are additional resources for off-campus involvement. The former promote various events that contribute to the classroom material, and often provide transportation or compensation for students who opt to attend. RAs constantly organize ways to connect with non-Occidental neighbors through volunteer opportunities and trips to local landmarks and restaurants.
The “Oxy Bubble” is somewhat of a campus joke, but it very much affects the way students spend their free time. Bursting that bubble through off-campus excursions — either for charity or recreation — not only enriches students’ collegiate experience, but also it improves the relationship between the college and the community.