Institutional History of Need Blind Activism

This is not the first time Wesleyan’s administration has proposed becoming need aware, nor the first time students have fought (successfully) for need-blind admissions. The historical parallels only lend credibility to our cause.

  • First, the WSA organized a “Save Aid-Blind Letter Drive” in 1982. The WSA also endorsed a major sit-in at North College and distributed fliers which “urged active student participation by providing examples of letters the student body should send to the Board of Trustees.” For more info on this, see this Argus feature.
  • The WSA distributed a flyer in 1982 stating: “On February 6, the Board of Trustees will meet to decide the final fate of aid-blind admissions at Wesleyan. This affects all of us. It will determine the make-up of future classes at Wesleyan. If you value the ideal of equal access to higher education, if you like going to school with all sorts of different kinds of people, you have a stake in keeping aid-blind admissions and financial aid policies at Wes.”
  • Then, in 1991-1992, President Chace proposed a five-year plan which would make the waitlist need-aware. In February, 1992, students organized a series of massive protests, including a class boycott and major occupation of North College. The protests made local news coverage. Eventually, students worked with the Econ faculty, devised a new plan, and saved need-blind admissions.
  • For more info, check out this interview with Ben Foss ’95, an organizer of these protests. This is a very relevant example of how students can take a voice in administrative decisions through force and argumentative merit. One of the tactics Ben Foss describes: calling every member of the Board of Trustees individually to express concern.
  • This weekend is the reunion of all classes at 5 year intervals from 2012.  It is the class of 1992’s twentieth reunion. Here’s their reunion committee.
  • Rob Alvarez ’96, who was involved in the 1992 protest and commented on Wesleying here, is on campus right now.  He has stated:
If I remember correctly – the Chace plan was already set to go back in the early ’90s. It may still have formally been a proposal, but that was really just a technicality; the decision had been made to make the change. What the activism of the time succeeded in doing was very much reversing that decision. I say this because I hope that people who care about this issue will not think that the battle is lost by whatever the Board did today (when most students were already gone). A serious effort on campus come fall can still very much have an impact, if it is organized and thoughtful enough.
I’m the Finance Chair of Alpha Delt’s trustee board.  We have a very active alumni community, many of whom I am sure hold this issue quite dear.



Content courtesy of Zach Schonfeld ’13.
Last updated June 2012.

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