A Brief Statement of Our Stance

Updated November 2013.

President Michael Roth and the Board of Trustees have abandoned the Wesleyan tradition of being “need-blind” in the admissions process, beginning with the class of 2017. Previously, admissions decisions were made for the majority of the student body without taking into account the applicant’s financial standing or need for financial aid.* The policy change established a set budget for financial aid; the Admissions Office now considers students’ financial status as one of the criteria for their acceptance. We recognize that the college admissions process is far from perfect and that a range of factors in our country and at Wesleyan, including high tuition rates, a segregated public education system, unequal access to preparation for pre-college tests, the college loan business, and Wesleyan’s meager financial aid packages already enforce existing inequalities. However, we are concerned that this new policy will worsen these existing inequalities.

We have seen the first alarming effects of the need-discriminatory admissions process in the demographics of the class of 2017, the first admitted under the new policy: compared with the class of 2016 the number of students receiving financial aid decreased from 48% to 42%, the number of students receiving grant aid decreased from 44% to 37%, the number of first generation four-year college students decreased from 16% to 13%, the number of black students decreased from 11% to 8%, while the number of students from New England increased from 17% to 22% and the numbers of students from all other geographic areas in the US dropped or remained flat.

Additionally, we are concerned about the lack of transparency, consultation, and communication with the student body, parents, and alumni in coming to this decision and in brazenly continuing to implement it despite the ongoing outcry from University stakeholders and the clearly destructive effect it is having on the diversity of the student body.

In light of the the far-reaching impacts the need-discriminatory admissions policy is having have on all members of our community, we hope that President Roth and the Board will reopen dialogue with this group and others who feel strongly about this issue. We hope that as a result of this dialogue they will appreciate that re-committing to a need-blind admissions policy is not only just, but in the University’s vital short and long-term interest. Wesleyan must again be able to admit its most promising applicants, rather than merely the most affluent.

*Before fall 2013, Wesleyan was “need-blind” for all domestic first-year students only, but not for international and transfer applicants.

Image of a scale with caption: stop selling seats: keep wesleyan admissions need-blind

Professor Gil Skillman on the Economics of “Need-Blind” Admissions at Wesleyan

A week ago, Gil Skillman, professor of economics and former Chair of the Faculty at Wesleyan, send an email out to the need-blind activism listserv detailing his thoughts on the University’s situation. As Chair of the Faculty, he participated in Board of Trustees and administrative meetings where the policy change was considered and crafted. Skillman’s stated goal is to “summarize [his] understanding of the bases for [the University’s concerns about the effectiveness and sustainability]” of the need-blind policy. The message is reproduced in full below; it is unedited except for my inclusion of a note at the end of the text.


Greetings, all.  I’d like to thank Anwar for adding me to this list, and I’d like to contribute to the discussion by offering my take on the economic considerations driving the University’s decision to go from being “need-blind” to “need-aware.”  But first, some context:  I’ve been a supporter of the principle of need-blind admissions and financial aid policy since joining the Economics Department (and CSS) in 1993, and believe that returning to need-blind should be our long-run goal, contingent on certain financial capability conditions being met (more on that below).  But as a long-term member of the University’s Budget Priorities Committee (BPC) by virtue of being faculty representative to the Board of Trustees Finance Committee, and then Vice-Chair and Chair of the Faculty the past two years, I have shared the administration’s concerns about the effectiveness and sustainability of this policy given the University’s current financial situation. What I’d like to do here is summarize my understanding of the bases for this concern.  I should emphasize that I am representing my views on the matter, which are not necessarily the views of the administration or the Board of Trustees. Continue reading →

Updates from May 25- June 14

Friday, May 25, 2012: An informational and organizational meeting was held at 3 PM, in the University Organizing Center.

Since then:

  • We created this website
  • Students and Alumni are coordinating publicity and planning actions
  • A satirical tumblr  has been started
  • We have received coverage from various sources including criticism on websites dedicated to helping students find and apply to colleges
  • Public discussions have followed President Roth’s blogposts
  • Zachary Malter ’13, WSA President proposed an alternative.

For a detailed update, check out this Wesleying post.

More links to media, discussions and responses are available here, and we will continue to update out documentation.

 

See something missing? Leave us a comment!

Changes are being proposed to Wesleyan’s Need Blind Admissions Policy

We have created this blog as a space to inform and organize.

To contribute to this blog, please email Oriana (oott@wes)

 

Wesleying post available at this link.

 

More information on Wesleying.