CSSS Replaces Office of CommServ and Religious Life

As of the start of the 2015 academic year, the Office for Community Service and Religious Life became the Center for Service, Spirituality and Social Justice (CSSS). Based in Landis House, the center’s name change was a result of a decision to renew themselves as a means of becoming more inclusive to every student, and also to reaffirm the values that are centrally important to the organization. 

Currently, 17 students are employed at CSSS, which is led by Reverend Donna Hughes.  At the conclusion of the previous academic year, many of these students approached Hughes to propose the idea of changing the name of the center.  They believed that including “Religious Life” directly in the title of a center that offered so many other valuable services had a negative connotation of exclusivity, and was not appearing as a center that every student could utilize. 

“Change was based on the idea that the office wanted to be more inclusive and that the word ‘religion’ often pulled people away. Therefore by using the word ‘spirituality,’ more people would feel more included,” Carol Fadalla ’18, a CSSS student employee in the Community Service Projects office, said.

After much discussion about how to create a new name that was both inviting and conveyed the values and services of the center, Hughes and the students settled on CSSS.  All of the students were on board with this new name and what it represented.

“Social justice drives my spirituality and [service]. I think our name better represents our work and is more inclusive,” Sydney Cross ’15 of the CSSS Religious Life office said.

Hughes also believed that the center should further emphasize social justice because of its central importance to many of the programs that CSSS has to offer Dickinsonians, ranging from discussions about poverty and homelessness, to awareness about race relations, and the work that the center does to bring to light and to inspire change on campus, in our communities and even abroad. 

Lisa Teitelbaum ’17, an employee of the Community Service Projects office, expanded on the need for the name change.

“We felt that broadening the name would better reflect the variety of services offered through the center,” Teitelbaum said. “Regarding the addition of the social justice aspect, we believe social justice is a key facet of both community service work and religious teachings.”

With this new name and reinforced mission, CSSS made sure that they were recognized at the beginning of the school year, setting up tables and booths for events, such as activities fair, and organizing events for first years during orientation week. 

“We really tried to launch the new name,” Hughes said, discussing the pens, bags and pamphlets that were ubiquitous during the first week.  The center is now known for its emphasis on the color orange, particularly because it distributed bright orange drawstring bags with the center’s logo and information about their mission and their values to the first years. 

CSSS chose the color orange to represent the center because its psychologically uplifting effect appropriately  indicates the happiness, service and acceptance for which the center stands.