’90s Need-Blind TV Footage Surfaces

A few months ago, before the explosion of discussion regarding Wesleyan’s need-blind policy, I posted an interview with Ben Foss ’95 about financial aid-related student activism in 1991 and 1992. Specifically, Foss took leadership in a group calling itself SFAE (Students for Financially Accessible Education), which organized a series of protests against a proposal that would take into account financial need when accepting students from the wait list. What began as a silent vigil and muted protest in 1991 erupted into a full-scale North College occupation in 1992.

In that interview, Foss described significant news coverage of the protests, including “a loud verbal argument with [former dean of admission and financial aid] Barbara-Jan Wilson on the steps of North College in front of TV cameras.” Naturally, I scourged the internets for that footage. Naturally, I came up empty. As far as I could tell, it was lost forever.

Not so. This week, Foss managed to find two taped VHS clips of the footage at his parents’ house in New Hampshire. Unsurprisingly, they’re awesome. The above video features footage of students staging a silent vigil outside a Board of Trustees meeting. (Wesleying contributor Killofrights recently suggested P-Safe use similar tactics by forming a circle and holding hands during Tour de Franzia.) The below clip briefly excerpts the verbal sparring between Foss and Wilson at about 1:26. (“All it does is allow for it to control volatility,” argues Wilson on camera.) And both support the notion that campus activism could really use some more ’90s mullets.

For more about the protests in 1991 and 1992, see the interview with Foss. For more great early ’90s television footage of Wesleyan, check out the Middletown Mummy Incident.

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