Roth on Wesleyan(’s Affordability)

Keep Wes(leying) need blind!

As you’re sobering up from R&C, the school year might already be a distant (read: hazy) memory, but President Roth reminds us that Wesleyan must go on.  On the immediate level, the “school’s out for the summer” mentality is misleading—there is still plenty going on over on our handsomely manicured 316-acre campus, and administrators are still at work.  On the long-term level, we kinda have to make sure the school doesn’t die of financial ruin…

President Roth has published a blog post titled “Sustainable Affordability,” found here, that finally explains his the administration’s reasoning on the changes you may have heard murmurs about.  There was strong student outcry about losing need-blind admissions, and Roth seems to respond indirectly to it.  The explanations are now out there, though it is disappointing that these decisions are only coming to light in blog posts during the summer when students are less likely to see them.  I summarize below, but I encourage everyone to fully read and comment on Roth’s original blog post.

Roth starts off by outlining the process, on how he involved the various constituencies at Wesleyan.  Students will note that Roth and other administrators came to WSA meetings (which all students are always invited to) as well as participated in the Future of Wesleyan’s Affordability Forum that we pushed y’all to go to and then summarized.

Essentially, Wesleyan has been on an unsustainable budget model.  While financial aid increases with our above-inflation tuition increases, we screw over the middle-class.  The demand for financial aid is up, and we’ve been scrambling to meet it even though we’re poorer than our peers.  Also, one has to wonder how need-blind we really are if we’re giving loans in place of grants.  While Roth has tried to cut a lot (you may have noticed), the saving are not enough.

Roth has proposed a three-prong plan: 1) a “discount rate” where a third of tuition charges go to financial aid; 2) not being need-blind but actually meeting full need for as many students as we can (90% projected); 3) a three-year option for a Wesleyan education.  By taking these steps, Roth believes we can preserve the quality Wesleyan experience for as many people as possible.

The key message to take away, though, may have been in the italicized introduction:

 In the fall, I will continue discussions with the various members of the Wesleyan family. Together, we will chart a path that creates the conditions that will enable the university to thrive long into the future.

The big man said it himself, discussions will continue.  That seems like a pretty open invitation to comment not only on this Wesleying post, but also on President Roth’s blog post.  If you want to have a voice, make it heard.