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Selective service. (Letters).

I wish to take exception to the manner in which Joshua Green's article ("The Other College Rankings ..." January/February 2002) listed Warren Wilson College as "one of the worst" when it comes to national service. The reason why we did not show a large percentage of service through the work-study program is because service at Warren Wilson is not a paid endeavor, but given in the spirit of volunteerism by all our students. Each year, our small student body of 800 contributes over 30,000 hours of service to such projects as Habitat for Humanity, homeless shelters, environmental cleanup, tutoring in schools, and many others. We probably allocated a larger percentage of the total institutional budget for service-learning than any other campus. Your ranking system is way off the mark for an institution such as ours that does not fit neatly into your "work-study funds" methodology.
President, Warren Wilson College

Joshua Green accuses schools of having abandoned their commitment to community service because they do not use federal work-study funds to assign students to paid community service. What he fails to note is a difference of perspective on the issue. Not all schools believe that paying students for community-service work is the best way to encourage them toward service. Our university is founded upon and committed to Franciscan ideals, including the value of community and the dignity of all. We encourage our students not only to learn these ideals, but to live them. We have never had a service requirement, yet are deeply committed to service, as are our students. However, that's the key: They volunteer; they choose to serve. We consider voluntary service to be true service; if you are paid, it's a job. America's best colleges aren't its worst; we simply choose to approach service differently.
President, St. Bonaventure University

Please share with your readers that University of North Texas didn't actually belong on your "Worst of the Worst" list. The real percentage we spent on community service was 9.6 percent, a number I expect will continue to grow.
Director of Student Financial Aid and
Scholarships, University of North Texas

You could have bolstered your own service ethic by getting the names of the colleges right. Virginia Polytechnic State Institute and State University is the official name for what is commonly known as "Virginia Tech." In my journalistic writing class at Virginia Tech, I learned the importance of accuracy. You obviously did not.
Washington, D. C.

Joshua Green replies: Presidents Orr and Wickenheiser are conflating volunteerism and work-study. They're two different things. As the article explained--and nonprofits attest--work-study students are preferable to volunteers because they're more reliable; their financial aid depends on them showing up for work. Critics may sniff at the notion of payment, but they shouldn't. Work-study enables many students to attend college who otherwise couldn't. If St. Bonaventure wishes to "approach service differently," that's fine by me. But the government may not be so understanding. Performing work-study service isn't a choice, it federal law -- one that President Bush wants to strengthen by requiring that 50 percent of funds go to service. As for Ms. Strayer, we'll gladly run a correction as soon as the Virginia Tech football team changes its jerseys to read "Virginia Polytechnic State Institute and State University."
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Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Apr 1, 2002
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