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W&L Students Boost Their Community Service

More than half of Washington and Lee’s students engaged in some form of community service during a 12-month period, according to a new report from W&L’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

A total of 1,482 W&L students engaged in almost 54,619 documented hours of community service during the year ending on June 30, 2012. Included in those figures are 342 students who engaged in at least 20 hours of community service during a semester. The figures represent an increase of more than 25 percent over the previous year.

Those figures include a range of activities, from service-learning opportunities that are part of academic assignments to numerous student-created and student-run programs.

Students logged a majority of the community-service hours in Lexington and Rockbridge County. They participated in several of the ongoing programs away from campus, however, such as the annual Volunteer Venture, where entering students perform a week of service prior to orientation.

“Although the report documents significant service hours, what is most impressive is the breadth and depth of individual and group community service given by W&L volunteers,” said Bryan Price, assistant provost for institutional effectiveness. “These individuals, singularly and collectively, have a profound impact in the community and in individual lives.”

The significant increase in the hours of volunteer work may be a factor of greater activity, said Price, and is certainly a result of better record-keeping that documents the work. Washington and Lee created a community engagement database for this purpose, and volunteers are using it in greater numbers.

“However, even though we were able to do a more effective job of identifying and documenting the activity, I am also quite sure that many volunteer activities in our community go undocumented, as students work individually or in very small groups to make a difference both here in Lexington and beyond,” Price said.

Some examples of new activities in which the W&L students participate are Student-to-Student, a W&L alternative to the national Big Brother-Big Sister Program, and College Access, a mentoring effort in which W&L students help students at Rockbridge County High School search for and apply to colleges.

In addition to the numerous ways in which the undergraduate students help in the local community, students in the School of Law also participate in several clinics that serve local clients. For instance, since 2003, the Community Legal Practice Center has provided free legal services to low-income residents in the Rockbridge area, with particular emphasis on services for the elderly and for victims of domestic violence. During the 2011-12 academic year, 15 law students gave approximately 6,210 hours of service to local clients.

Several other Law School clinics serve the region, including the Criminal Justice Clinic, the Tax Clinic, the Black Lung Clinic and the Immigration Clinic.

In each of the past two years, Washington and Lee has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction on the basis of its strong institutional commitment to service and its compelling campus-community partnerships that have produced measurable results for the locality.

News Contact:
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
(540) 458-8459