Roughly eight months after President Michael Roth announced that the University would be ending need-blind admissions, some members of the Wesleyan community are continuing to voice their grievances over the policy change.
In the beginning of December 2012, Lana Wilson ’05 drafted a petition on Change.org requesting that President Roth reinstate a fully need-blind admissions policy. The petition has grown steadily since it was created and now has over 420 signatories.
In the petition, titled “Michael S. Roth: Bring need-blind admission back to Wesleyan,” Wilson laments the potential decrease in diversity that she believes will come with the change in admission policy.
“When there are so many other excellent liberal arts colleges to apply to, and when college applications are expensive—costing between $50-$90 per school—why would some meritorious lower-income students spend their limited resources applying to Wesleyan in the first place when they know the university could reject them simply because of their financial situation?” the petition states.
Wilson said she wrote the petition after having received an alumni newsletter from Roth explaining why he had decided to end need-blind admissions.
“I read it, and I thought it was a really thoughtful response, and I liked how he explained that what he was trying to do was curb the rise of tuition and that type of thing,” Wilson said. “I thought that was all well and good, but it just wasn’t addressing the core problem, which was what effect this will have on Wesleyan students in the future. Although he says this will only affect 10 percent of Wesleyan admission, the larger problem is that if people see Wesleyan as not being need-blind any longer, lower-income students aren’t going to apply to it, period.”
Many graduates of the University as well as current students hope the petition will have an impact on administrative policy.
“I really hope that the petition will push the administration to think through and consider the solutions from the report written by the Budget sustainability task force committee last semester,” Dat Vu ’15 wrote in an email to The Argus. “I read their report and saw many compromises that can be made to bring back the need-blind decision.”
Each time someone adds hir name to the petition, an email is sent to Roth saying, “Bring back need-blind admission to Wesleyan.” Signatories are also invited to comment on the site. Vu, who heard of the petition through Facebook, was among the signatories.
“I signed it because I am a need-based student myself, and I would not be here if the school was not offering me financial aid,” Vu wrote. “Therefore, I believe that the future applicants should deserve the same thing.”
Wilson said she was particularly moved by the comment of a friend and fellow graduate from the University who teaches at a public school in Brooklyn. In the past, the friend has brought students to visit the University and has encouraged many lower-income students to use a free application waiver to apply. However, this year the friend explained that she no longer felt that she could do that.
“That really struck a chord with me, that this is already having an impact with students graduating from high school this year,” Wilson said.
Zak Malik ’14 wrote in an email to The Argus that he saw the petition as a unique opportunity to express his dissatisfaction with the current admission policy.
“I signed the petition because I’d like to do any little thing I can to bring back need-blind,” he wrote. “I’m in a little bit of trouble in regards to the code of non-academic conduct, so I wasn’t able to do anything to risk my standing with the University, such as [the] occupy trustee board meeting in which people were written up. I think the petition will just open Roth’s eyes a little more, and realize how many alumni and current students care about the situation.”
Wilson said that she is happy with the number of people who have added their names to the petition thus far.
“There can always be more, but I think this is a great number to start with,” Wilson said. “I think it’s helped bring awareness. A lot of people just weren’t aware that this happened.”
Wilson explained that her goal is to show Roth and other administrators that many in the University community dislike the policy change.
“I hope the pressure will build on the President and the administration to reconsider this policy,” Wilson said.
Although Wilson has not yet received any response from Roth, she intends to print out a copy of the petition with the comments from each signatory to send to the President next week.