For the second year in a row, Hobart and William Smith Colleges number among the top U.S. colleges and universities recognized by Washington Monthly for student voting initiatives. The policy magazine’s 2020 College Guide and Rankings also list HWS as fourth in the nation among liberal arts colleges for service.
“Civic engagement is a longstanding value at HWS, one that students develop in Geneva and carry with them around the world,” says Katie Flowers, director of the HWS Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL). “In an election year, during a pandemic, with racial and social justice at the forefront of the national dialogue, it’s as important as ever to be engaged. I’m proud to say that our campus is full of deeply engaged students, faculty and staff.”
Flowers notes just this week HWS Votes hosted a voter registration table on National Voter Registration Day during a screening of “John Lewis: Good Trouble” that was followed by a panel discussion and attended by more than 80 HWS students and Geneva residents.
To be included in the 2020 Washington Monthly “student voting honor roll,” institutions must show “a repeated commitment to increasing student voting and have been transparent about the results.” Recognized colleges and universities must have submitted an ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge action plan in 2018 and 2020, and have signed up to receive National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLV) data about their own campus registration and turnout rates. Finally, schools must have made both their 2016 and 2018 NSLV data available to the public.
This spring HWS enrolled in the 2020 ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge to improve nonpartisan civic engagement and voter participation on campus. Managed by the nonprofit Civic Nation, the Challenge is a national awards program that encourages colleges and universities to help students practice active and informed citizenship. Annual awards recognize colleges and universities for their commitment to increasing student voting rates.
Dovetailing with the ALL IN Challenge, HWS Votes is building on 2016 voting engagement, with two primary goals for the 2020 election cycle: increasing the student registration rate from 77.9 percent to at least 85 percent and increasing the student voting rate from 37.2 percent to at least 50 percent. HWS Votes is a non-partisan group of student leaders devoted to voter registration and the continuous civic education of the Hobart and William Smith and Geneva communities.
Since 2005, Washington Monthly has rated U.S. colleges and universities “based on their contribution to the public good in three broad categories: social mobility, research, and providing opportunities for public service.” Among liberal arts colleges overall, Hobart and William Smith rank 55th nationally and fourth in service. Service rankings are calculated according to HWS alum service in the Peace Corps; institutional participation in the AmeriCorps Matching Program; the allocation of Federal Work-Study grant funds toward community service programs; and voting engagement. Social mobility factors in graduation rates, financial data and student body diversity. Research includes the number of fulltime faculty, Ph.D. completion rates among graduates and institutional research spending.