Need-Blind Forum with President Roth [Liveblog]

Postscript: Thank you for coming to Wesleying’s first ever forum! The turnout was so big it spilled into the hallway. Click past the jump for photo and liveblog coverage, and stay tuned for full video footage.

Wesleying’s need-blind forum with President Roth is happening.

This will be live-streamed and live-blogged. WATCH THE LIVE STREAM HERE. Live blog updates after the jump.

If you have last minute questions for President Roth, e-mail staff[at]wesleying[dot]org.
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Here are the questions Wesleying received this week and asked President Roth during the forum:

  • “You have repeatedly said that this was the best option, that everything else that could be cut would damage the Wesleyan experience. What (specifically) were the other options that were proposed as alternatives to eliminating need-blind admissions? Which things would have been cut? Which policies would have been changed?”

  • “How will imposing caps on the financial aid budget affect matriculated students? For example, will students that need to apply for more aid during the year be denied?”

  • “If this is the ‘least bad’ option that wouldn’t be pursued if not out of necessity, why has the administration refused to set an explicit plan or time line to set Wesleyan on a path to return to need-blind?”
  • “In a comment on Wesleying, Professor Claire Potter, under her pseudonym ‘Tenured Radical,’ stated that while need blind does not make much of a difference in who is admitted, it ‘does make a big difference in who applies within the United States.’ Thus my question is as follows: In an environment where the institutions with which we try to compete are either continuing a tradition of need-blind or  extending their policies to international students, how do you and the Board of Trustees expect to compete for applications from middle-class and low-income families when as Professor Potter stated they ‘believe they will not be discriminated against under a need-blind system’?”
  • In a comment on Roth’s blog last June, Estrella Lopez ‘07 wrote:

‘It is extremely disappointing that I had to find out that this was happening from a third party. Other than a quick line in an email send 3/1/2012 about Wesleyan’s Reaccreditation Self-Study, there was no hint that this was happening until last month, at which point, presumably this was already a done deal. Where was the communication on this vitally important matter when there was still a chance to do something about it? Where were the calls to fundraise letting people know that if $X weren’t raised then need-blind admissions might have to be sacrificed? We are constantly hit with artificial cries for urgency that we have to give by end of this challenge or during GOLD giving month, but here, where there was real urgency, with real consequences if we didn’t act, we instead got silence.’

Why has there not been a serious, highly publicized capital campaign, targeting alumni, parents, and other members of the Wesleyan community, with the explicit goal of producing enough revenue so that administrators no longer see this move as necessary?

9:08 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

Livestream is now off-air, and I think we’re about to log off too. Thanks for reading errbuddy.

9:07 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

Roth thanks everybody for coming and recommends the we continue this conversation; people start file out. Sudden chaos.

9:07 pm Syed wrote:

Anwar has double-stuffed oreos for the crowd.

9:07 pm Samira wrote:

Roth: this is an ongoing process. We should continue this conversation. Rothdog out.

9:06 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

Roth: “You should keep my feet to the fire and my colleagues feet to the fire every year to make sure we [meet our goals].”

9:06 pm Syed wrote:

“You should hold my feet to the fire, and my colleagues’ feet to the fire every year,” says President Roth.  It’s the second time the feet to the fire motif has come up.

9:06 pm Samira wrote:

Last question for real: What will happen with the demographic? How will this change the demographic and the culture of Wesleyan? Will there be some kind of policing to ensure that the culture of Wesleyan will continue on?

Roth: Of course. Show up every year and tell us what the impact of this is. We have a commitment to diversity and we want to see that in the statistics, not in the rhetoric. What we’ve done in the last 20 years is not working…it’s not giving us the diversity that we want.

9:05 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

Maintaining diverse demographics is “key” to this whole issue. “We will publish the [demographics] numbers every year.”

9:05 pm Syed wrote:

“We have a commitment to diversity and we want to see that.”

9:05 pm Syed wrote:

“The vigilance of the students will be key,” says Roth.

9:03 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

There is a fundraising plan, but we can’t project when the fundraising will be sufficient for Wes to be need-blind.

9:02 pm Samira wrote:

If this is only a temporary measure, why is there no explicit timeline for the need blind campaign? Roth: Because we don’t know how much need there will be. All we can tell for now is how much revenue we bring in, and how much we need, etc. so that more students have access to Wesleyan.

9:02 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

People have really come up with some creative ways to poke their heads in the room.

9:00 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

In other words, why is there no current timeline?

9:00 pm Syed wrote:

“I don’t know what the need will be, that’s what need-blind means.”

9:00 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

Last question of the night: “if this is the least bad option, can the administration announce a finite plan by which need-blind can return?”

8:59 pm Syed wrote:

“I don’t think we recruit people who we’re going to reject.”

We have more Prep-for-Prep students here than practically any school other than Harvard, which is considerably larger.

8:58 pm Samira wrote:

“This is, I think, the first endowment campaign that Wesleyan has done, and it’s to put more money into a scholarship program.”

“We don’t recruit people that we’re going to reject.”

8:58 pm Syed wrote:

Bouncing off pyrotechnics, I can see at least eight people standing in the hallway to my left.

8:57 pm Syed wrote:

An audience member asks if Red & Black callers are mentioning this issue to alumni when asking to donate.  Roth says that this is the first campaign Wesleyan has done with financial aid as its focus.  Previously, it’s been out new buildings and the like.  Financial aid has never been so important.

8:56 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

My estimated head-count is well-over 100 attendees, and I can’t see everyone in the hallways outside who can’t get a place to sit.

8:55 pm Samira wrote:

“We need more scholarships, but I don’t know if we need ‘need-blind.’”

8:55 pm Samira wrote:

“We raised more money last year through gifts and alumni donations than in any other year of the university’s history.”

8:53 pm Samira wrote:

If we raise more than 150 million dollars, we’d have the same amount of students on financial aid that we used to have.

8:52 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

FYI: the campaign itself (and its exact nature) is “to be announced.”

8:52 pm Samira wrote:

“More than half our students pay the full tuition…We need more scholarships to have students from underrepresented groups.”

8:52 pm Syed wrote:

“If we raise the money, we will have more scholarships.  This isn’t like losing your innocence.” Haha.

8:51 pm Syed wrote:

“We do ask for money, as you’ll find out as soon as you graduate.”

8:51 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

As part of the ongoing campaign discussed earlier, Wes is trying to raise 0 million for the endowment specifically earmarked for financial aid.

8:49 pm Syed wrote:

“I know you’ve looked around and wondered how that person got in.  I know I have!”

8:48 pm artemiswins wrote:

Ben Doernbeard ’13 just arrived and cant get in. *laughs*

8:46 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

Question: why not raise the debt ceiling and let people come here? Roth: we don’t want to regress to our previous load levels and change campus culture and post-graduation options in that way. (Doesn’t consider this a particularly “knock-out answer.”)

8:46 pm Samira wrote:

Cut debt levels in 2007-2008 by 35% and it was much easier to do than it is now (it was easy to just cut things that were wasteful).

8:44 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

Admissions is still grappling with the question of Early Decision, “we don’t want to drive people to ED improperly.”

8:44 pm Syed wrote:

“We don’t want people to apply early decision if they really don’t want to.”

8:44 pm Samira wrote:

How much is tuition projected to rise with the new policy?

It currently goes up 5% a year with our current policy (which has been around the average for the past decade). But with the new policy, the tuition would increase less from year to year.

8:42 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

Tuition will be “probably around 3%” for next year, based on higher education inflation.

8:42 pm Syed wrote:

Roth points out that John Gudvangen from the Financial Aid department is here.

8:40 pm Syed wrote:

Roth suggests sending suggestions to Zach Malter ’13 from the WSA or to email Roth himself.  Roth will forward suggestions to John Meerts, VP of Finance and Administration.

8:38 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

Roth pulls out some French that I did not comprehend.

8:37 pm Samira wrote:

In 2008, it was suggested that Wes get rid of need-blind, and Roth said, “I’m not going to be the president who does that.” hah…

Other options that were considered to fix the financial situation:  we could increase each class year by 100 students or get rid of wood frame houses and put everyone in triples.

8:37 pm Syed wrote:

“It seems that middle class is becoming an underrepresented group,” posits an audience member.  Roth hopes two things will help with that:

  1. not raising tuition more than inflation
  2. the six-semester (three-year) option

8:34 pm Syed wrote:

Roth did not want to be the president who got rid of need-blind admissions when he first got here.

8:34 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

“If we’d had 30 extra students, we would have been popping, uhhh… Miller Lite or something…” – Roth, referring to his time at a California art school.

8:33 pm Syed wrote:

Watching pyrotechnics watch the livestream from here, too.

8:32 pm pyrotechnics wrote:


Watching the livestream live while liveblogging; Syed liveblogs opposite, dressed remarkably like Waldo.

8:31 pm Samira wrote:

Roth has done research on the meaningfulness of the word “need blind” among applicant pool. Many of the schools that are need-blind are much less diverse than Wesleyan. When asked for more concrete examples of this, he responds that many of our peer schools are actually not need-blind with regard to wait lists.

8:31 pm Syed wrote:

Roth talks about how much more selective Wesleyan is today.  ”When I was a student, gosh, you could just walk in!”

8:28 pm Syed wrote:

“We’ve done some research, and many of the schools that talk about need-blind have much less diversity than Wesleyan does.”

8:27 pm Syed wrote:

If anyone knows of anyone who would be willing to donate a hundred million dollars, let President Roth know!

8:24 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

In case you missed it, Samira and pyrotechnics have now been reinforced by Syed and artemiswins. Yay liveblogging!

8:23 pm Syed wrote:

Audience Question: “When you say this new program will factor financial means, what does that mean?”

8:22 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

Roth talking about an ongoing campaign to raise money for the endowment (among other things); hopefully over 0 million will be raised, bringing closer to our wealthier peer schools.

8:21 pm Samira wrote:

Our endowment was not too different from Amherst’s in 1997. We spent too much and didn’t save enough. Amherst also has fewer students. Wes also started saving money later than our peer institutions. Roth says we’d raise over 400 million dollars with this need-blind campaign, which would go to endowment for financial aid, scholarships, core academic endowment, etc.

8:21 pm Syed wrote:

Hoping to raise at least four hundred million dollars in this fundraising campaign, mostly to scholarships, financial aid, and academic core.

8:20 pm Syed wrote:

“It’s pretty simple.  We spent too much and didn’t save enough.”

8:19 pm Samira wrote:

Question: With regards to the 2012 Operating Expenses chart, what goes into “auxiliaries?” Roth: Bon Appetit…things that come in and out of the budget.
Q: How about “other?” Roth: Summer camps at Wes…etc.?

8:17 pm pyrotechnics wrote:


8:16 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

Adam Brudnick ’13 asking about endowment draw and endowment returns. Roth mentions the appointment of Ann Martin as the Chief Investment Officer; the endowment is doing better now than in the last few years.

8:15 pm Samira wrote:

Some of the audience:


8:14 pm Syed wrote:

Questions now.

8:13 pm Syed wrote:

“I don’t know if you believe me, but we have tried over the past three years…to get rid of the inefficiencies”

8:12 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

Roth now mentioning the 3-year option for Wes.

8:11 pm Syed wrote:

Roth asks, “How generous can we afford to be?”

8:09 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

Looking around the room (PAC 002), it’s difficult to tell what’s an actual seat and what’s a stairway.

8:07 pm Syed wrote:

The room is literally above capacity, with people entering through all three doorways.  Roth is speaking with the link open.

8:07 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

You can read about it here.

8:06 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

President Roth is currently giving a brief overview of Wesleyan’s financial situation.

8:04 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

The room is literally stuffed with students, plus a fair collection of administrators: President Michael Roth ’78 is joined by Andy Tanaka ’00 of the President’s Office, Dean Mike Whaley, Dean Rick Culliton, Director of Public Safety Dave Meyer, and Director of Strategic Initiatives Charles Salas. Also, others I probably missed. Students still pouring in.

8:01 pm pyrotechnics wrote:

I am currently watching the livestream on my laptop while sitting right beneath the camera. Whoa.

8:00 pm Samira wrote:

Samira and pyrotechnics here. PAC 002 is packed. Yay!

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7 thoughts on “Need-Blind Forum with President Roth [Liveblog]

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