Peace Corps needs oversight

Budget cuts and sexual assaults have plagued the organization.

The Peace Corps made changes to its application in an attempt to expedite the application process, the Minnesota Daily reported last week. With 57 graduates  currently volunteering, the University of Minnesota is already well represented, ranking high nationwide in alumni volunteers.

Recently, the Peace Corps has run into criticism from former volunteers who claim the organization ignored charges of rape and violence against volunteers while abroad and failed to match up volunteers’ skills with productive assignments.

Moreover, the federal government, which funds the program, has been steadily decreasing funding for the Peace Corps over the past five years, with $21 million less allocated this past fiscal year compared to 2010.

While we support those who take the time to volunteer their time in an effort to help others and develop their career, we urge both students and the program to adequately assess the risks involved. With the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa — spurring the removal of volunteers from affected areas — coupled with budget cuts, there is an inherent danger in joining the Peace Corps that hasn’t been discussed.

If there is increased oversight and transparency, in addition to progress in addressing the documented cases of violence and rape some volunteers have experienced, the Peace Corps would be an exciting prospect. At the moment, we feel that there is much left to be done and urge caution before making the decision to join this organization.