Letter to Daily Mercury: U of G students a benefit to community

Friday, September 10, 2004



Dear Editor - Re: 'U of G students need to contribute more,' (Guelph Mercury, Sept. 8)

This morning we kicked off the fall semester at the University of Guelph with a community breakfast attended by faculty and staff. We took the opportunity to reflect on some of our accomplishments over the past year, including some really remarkable contributions made by our students.

On a single night last Halloween, University of Guelph students collected more than 20,000 pounds of food for the local food bank. The Trick or Eat evening kept the food bank supplied for almost three months.

Our students also established a food bank on campus for other students, and they donated more than $32,000 from their meal cards through a national meal exchange program. That was the highest level of giving recorded at any Canadian university.

Your readers may not realize that as many as 10,000 University of Guelph students volunteer on a regular basis with community organizations and local charities. This student volunteer force represents more than 67 per cent of the university's undergraduate student population. According to the Canadian Philanthropic Association, the national average for voluntarism is 40 per cent, so we are justifiably proud of their efforts on behalf of the Guelph community.

Although the 2004 fall semester is barely under way, a group of students have already mobilized an effort to support the university's annual United Way campaign, which will be launched later this month.

Imagine my disappointment when I opened the morning newspaper and read a letter that suggested the "majority" of university students are a burden to the citizens of Guelph. There may be a small number of university students who create problems related to litter and noise in the downtown core, but the vast majority of our students are good citizens and contributing members of society. I believe Guelph is a better city because of their presence here.

Alastair Summerlee

president and vice-chancellor

University of Guelph

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