Introducing the BIRT Roadshow at Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Bill Woodson Ph.D.

Bill Woodson Ph.D.

At HWS, we recognize the importance of fostering an inclusive and supportive community for all. That's why almost a decade ago, HWS established the Bias Incidence Response Team, or BIRT. BIRT is a cross-functional team tasked with providing support, case management, and referral services, facilitating a coordinated campus response to bias-related incidents and situations that may adversely impact the campus experience, not only serving students, but also faculty and staff.

Another function of BIRT is to be a resource for understanding and addressing trends in campus bias incidents. By analyzing past incidents, we leverage this knowledge to devise strategies for reducing future occurrences and creating a safer, more inclusive environment for everyone. Through education, dialogue and support, we strive to foster a campus culture where all members feel respected, valued and heard.

Students, staff and faculty are asked to file a BIRT report if they witness or experience incidents of bias or bullying on campus. They can contact a member of the BIRT team. Campus residents can also contact a Community Assistant to create a BIRT case. Everyone can visit or call Campus Safety. A BIRT report can also be filed online. All are asked to consider including their name in their reports, so that a BIRT team member can reach out and offer personalized support; however, the website also offers the option of filing an anonymous report. By reporting such incidents, individuals play a crucial role in shaping a campus environment that upholds our values of diversity, inclusion and respect for all.

In April, the BIRT team “hit the road,” holding four information sessions in partnership with Student Government, Greek Council, and Athletics, bringing BIRT to life, helping community members better understand why they might want to file a BIRT report, and what happens to reports they file. Attendees learned how the number and type of BIRT cases this year compares to last year, and, perhaps most importantly, they were introduced to strategies and skills—for responding to a bias incident, and for intervening before an emerging situation turns into an incident. More sessions are being planned now. All are welcome to send a note to, if your fraternity, sports team, theme house, or campus employer would like to set up a BIRT Roadshow session for the fall.

Join us in our mission to build a more inclusive and supportive community at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Together, we can create positive change and ensure that everyone feels welcome and supported on our campus.

Spring 2024 Kitchen Table Conversations were a success!

Thanks to all who participated in one or more KTC this past Spring. We are always looking for new ways to strengthen, deepen, and broaden our sense of community. Let us know what topics you would like to see, when we bring KTCs back in the fall.

Spring Semester Kitchen Table Conversation topics included:

  • Coming Together: Consent, Pleasure, and Relationships (Mace McDonald)
  • How Global Conflicts are Impacting College Campuses (Janette Gayle)
  • Life after George Floyd: Law enforcement, Criminal Justice, and Community (Bill Woodson)
  • How Covid-19 has Impacted My HWS Student Experience (Christine de Denus)

Upcoming Graduation Celebrations!

ODEI is excited to host, partner and/or amplify the following graduation celebrations!

Lavender graduation
  • Lavender Graduation will be held on Thursday, May 2, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Common Room of the Scandling Campus Center. Lavender Graduation honors the achievements of LGBTQ+ students as they graduate. If you are graduating this spring and would like to be included in this ceremony, please fill out this form. This will allow us to order cords and certificates for you. Everyone is welcome to attend (no registration required) but if you would like to be a part of the ceremony, please fill out the form.
  • The HEOP Senior Celebration will be held on Wednesday, May 15, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Adams Intercultural Center Stine Room. This ceremony will honor our HEOP graduates from undergraduate and graduate programs. Graduating students and their guests are invited to attend. RSVPs are requested to
  • First Generation Initiative (FGI) Graduation Celebration will be held on Saturday, May 18, at 3 pm in Albright Auditorium. This celebration honors FG students and their support networks as they graduate. If you would like to participate in the celebration, please complete the following form before 5/3. This will allow us to prepare appropriately. Everyone is welcome to attend (no registration required), but if you would like to be a part of the celebration, please complete the form.
  • The Posse Graduation Ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 18, at 4:30 p.m. in Albright Auditorium. This ceremony honors our Posse 8 graduating class. HWS faculty, staff, and students are welcome to attend (no registration required). Outside guests and families, RSVP to


A Welcoming Community
Insights from the HWS Student Belonging Survey

Insights from HWS Students

Insights from the HWS Student Belonging Survey

This report presents an analysis of a recent survey conducted among HWS students, assessing their sense of belonging within the campus community. With 215 participants, the survey gauges feelings of inclusion and exposure to diversity, as well as identify areas for improvement.

A Strong Foundation of Inclusion

The majority of respondents, comprising nearly 90% of the sample (193 students), expressed feeling welcomed, valued and respected at HWS. This statistic underscores the success of HWS’ efforts in fostering an inclusive environment conducive to student well-being and academic success.


Furthermore, more than 88% of participants (190 students) reported positive experiences regarding exposure to diversity, indicating that HWS effectively exposes its students to a broad spectrum of backgrounds, interests and values. This aligns with the institution's commitment to promoting intercultural competence and global understanding among its student body.

Areas for Continued Growth

While the overall sentiment is positive, the survey also revealed areas for improvement. About 10% of respondents (22 students) expressed neutral or negative feelings regarding their sense of belonging, and 11% (25 students) disagreed with the statement that their college experience was exposing them to a broad range of interests and identities. These responses highlight the importance of addressing the concerns of minority student groups to ensure a truly inclusive environment for all.

To gain deeper insights into these experiences, further segmentation of the data by demographic factors such as class year, race/ethnicity, and sexual orientation would be helpful. This segmentation could uncover disparities in experiences and guide targeted interventions to address specific challenges faced by certain student subgroups.

Additionally, conducting focus groups or open-ended surveys would provide qualitative data essential for understanding the nuances of student experiences. By allowing students to share their perspectives in their own words, HWS can gather specific recommendations for enhancing the sense of belonging for all members of the campus community.

Building on a Positive Foundation

Overall, the survey results indicate that while the Colleges have an opportunity for further improvement, HWS has laid a strong foundation for inclusivity and diversity within its community. By acknowledging the experiences of students who may feel less connected and proactively addressing their concerns, HWS can further solidify its commitment to ensuring that all students feel valued and supported. Through continued dialogue and targeted initiatives, HWS can strive toward creating an environment where every individual feels a genuine sense of belonging.


The Alger Adams Scholars Dinner

Alger Adams dinner

The Alger Adams Recognition Dinner was held in Bartlett Theatre on Saturday, April 13.  Mary Herlihy Gearan, President Mark D. Gearan, former HWS President and current President of Talladega College Gregory J. Vincent ’83, several alumni, along with faculty, mentors and other staff members came together to celebrate this year’s Alger Adam Scholars. Today’s high achieving HWS students of color are perhaps the most significant legacy of Rev. Dr. Alger L. Adams '32, D.D.'83, the first African American graduate of Hobart College. The students we celebrated continue a tradition of excellence, embodying the spirit and resilience of Dr. Adams. His remarkable journey overcoming societal obstacles to excelling academically as a Hobart student, and later making significant contributions to civil rights causes is a testament to the transformative power of education and the essential nature of a supportive community.

Immediately preceding the recognition dinner, the Afro-Latino Alumni Association (ALAA) hosted a Networking Session, held in the Adams Intercultural Center Stine Room. The event was attended by many of the Adams Scholars along with many other members of the HWS student community. The hybrid event featured more than a dozen successful HWS alumni of color, half attended in person, and half attended virtually via Zoom. Access to an engaged network of alumni, ready to give back and provide professional insights and mentorship to our current students, is an important benefit of being an HWS student. 



Introducing Posse’s Newest Mentors: Ann Marie Luce and Mace McDonald

Posse is excited to announce the addition of two remarkable mentors, Ann Marie Luce (she/her) and Mace McDonald (they/them), to its Cohort Two team. With their extensive experiences as mentors to young adults, Ann Marie and Mace were natural fits for the Posse mentor role, and we are excited by their desire to offer their skills and experiences in service to Posse Chicago cohort 2 and Posse LA cohort 12, respectively.


Mace McDonald

Reflecting on their journey as a first-generation college student, Mace McDonald, Director of the LGBT+ Resource Center and an adjunct member of the faculty, emphasized the pivotal role mentors played in their academic success. "I received a lot of mentorship from the faculty in my undergraduate department," Mace reflected. "I wouldn’t have made it through my Ph.D. without their care and support." Now, as a mentor themselves, Mace is eager to pay it forward. They look forward to guiding their Posse through their transition to college, far away from home, and bonding over shared experiences, especially the challenges of winters. "I anticipate many conversations about the necessity of wool socks," Mace added with a chuckle.


Ann Marie Luce

For Ann Marie, Associate Director of the Centennial Center for Leadership, leadership coach, and former principal, the Posse role aligns perfectly with her deep-seated commitment to fostering diversity, inclusion and equity. "As someone deeply passionate about embracing the richness of diversity, the Posse role resonates deeply with me," she shared. Ann Marie sees mentoring as a partnership, a mutual journey of learning and growth. She eagerly anticipates collaborating with Posse students, recognizing their fresh perspectives, energy and contemporary understanding as invaluable assets. "Their innovative approaches and solutions will undoubtedly challenge and inspire me in my role as a mentor," Ann Marie reflected.

As mentors, Ann Marie and Mace embody the core values of Posse: support, diversity and empowerment. Their dedication to guiding the next generation reflects the spirit of community and collaboration that defines the Posse experience. Together with their Posse mentees, they are poised to make a positive impact on the world, one conversation, one challenge, and one pair of wool socks at a time.