The Boston College Law School’s Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) hosted a Day of Service on Sept. 7 that brought together faculty, staff, and students to celebrate the new school year. The event was a recent programming addition held in response to increased interest in the foundation’s work.
Volunteers went to Friday Cafe, Cradles to Crayons, and Allston Brighton Food Pantry, and Y2Y, and around 20 volunteers partook in a Charles River cleanup.
Alyssa Rao, BC Law and GSSW ’21, who is the community events director of the student-run organization, explained that PILF tries to make it possible for students to take public interest internships over the summer.
“Most internships with a non-profit or a judge or with the government are unpaid, so by doing different fundraising events and community events, we’re able to sort of facilitate the vast majority of those internships with stipends,” she said.
PILF also tries to foster public service and public interest values throughout the BC Law community, Rao said. The organization hosts networking events, speakers, and volunteer days.
While PILF usually hosts one Day of Service per year, it hosted the event in both the fall and spring last year. This year, PILF added a beginning-of-the-year Day of Service, in addition to the fall Days of Service that it will host on Nov. 8 and 9 and the spring event that it will host in March.
While PILF’s days of service have traditionally consisted of about 30 volunteers, there was a massive influx of volunteers last year, with 89 people signing up for the fall Day of Service.
“To give that perspective, one class is about 240, so it’s a pretty significant number of people,” Rao said. “And then we did this follow-up Day of Service [in the spring], which we didn’t anticipate to be huge, but we thought would get around 30, and we had 50 people sign up for that.”
The days of service were previously reserved for law students only, but PILF opened them up to faculty and staff at its beginning-of-the-year event. The 65 volunteers were distributed across five different service placements in the Greater Boston area and included Dean of BC Law Vincent Rougeau, who volunteered at Y2Y, a youth homeless shelter.
“The people that were at that event said it was really cool because the dean was down on his knees, scrubbing away on the floors,” Rao said. “So [we] were trying to sort of engage not just the law students but also the law community by opening it up to faculty.”
Rao explained how this enthusiasm demonstrates the BC Law community’s dedication to volunteer work in general, even if it’s not related to their law-school work. This growing interest reflects, according to Rao, the commitment to helping others in the wider BC community.
“It’s something that sets the University as a whole apart, but I think it also sets the law school apart in that the students are really, really happy and enjoy the people that they’re working with and want, if they have the time, to take time for others,” she said. “And I think that’s something that you might not see it other law schools, and I think it makes BC really unique.”
As for the influx of interest, Rao explained that PILF, in the last two years, has shifted from a primary focus on funding to a more holistic view of the organization. She cites various programming events, such as the days of service, that have strengthened publicity efforts and encouraged a wider array of student, faculty, and staff involvement.
“I do think it’s really cool that so many people at BC, are so willing to do this for like nothing in return—they genuinely want to spend time getting to know the community that BC is part of,” Rao said.
“Law school can be really busy, and it can be really stressful, and it can make you feel like school is the only thing that matters,” she said. “By putting these events on, by giving people a couple of hours a day when they can go and do something for someone else, I think, has been really cool to see people be interested in.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Alyssa Rao