News Coverage Round-Up: Need-Blind

If I have to tell you about what’s going on with need-blind at Wesleyan right now, you seriously don’t spend enough time on this blog (and are definitely not that girl I’ve been hitting on with subtle references to my Wesleying persona). Seriously, guys(/gals/zes), we talk about this all the fucking time (context context context context context context context and a .gif).

In brief: our embattled president, Rothzilla, has engaged the fearsome budget monster Mo(ney)thra, which of course seems nice to everybody at first, because hey, who wants to deal with that devilish flying thing stalking us at every turn? However, it turns out that Rothzilla is keeping Mo(ney)thra under control using some extremely non-kosher methods, namely by destroying Tokyo in the process (or undercutting the moral values of Wesleyan by “discriminating against poor people,” as one student phrased it—whichever fits this illogical reimagining best). The background of all this includes numerous conspiracy theories about a cover-up (i.e., issues with transparency), a convoluted origin story, and the meddling hands of Ishiro Honda (ok, maybe that last one is a little less accurate).

Why reflect on all this now? Well, it appears that the traditional news media has taken the bait. What follows is a collection of interpretations of the need-blind issue, courtesy of the good folks over in the fourth branch of the government. Read on, dear readers, for the (slightly more coherent) perspective from the outside.

Hartford Courant
The Courant offers the most comprehensive take of any of the articles you’ll find here (along with the badass photo up top). It’s exceedingly well-researched and well-balanced, complete with quotes from Roth as well as a number of the students involved in the recent Board of Trustees occupation. It also cites a section of a larger assessment that Moody’s Investment Service made last summer, praising the switch to need-aware admissions as a “credit positive” action that made Wesleyan “part of a trend among selective private colleges that have more quietly moved to ‘need sensitive’ or ‘need aware’ admissions policies.” I think these articles are making a little bit more noise than the administration hoped for.

The Middletown Press
The Middletown Press, notable (in my mind) for its fumbling of the faux-revocation of Hickenlooper’s diploma last fall, has a piece by our very own Justin Pottle ’13 that focuses heavily on the aforementioned protest and its ramifications. It features some nice quotes from some fellow Wesleyingers, as well as a brief rundown of that day’s events.

Middletown Patch
The facts in the Patch article are nothing you haven’t heard before, offering an extremely limited take on the debate thus far. However, the focal point of the article is this awesome video made by Samantha Maldonado ’13 and Katya Botwinick ’13, so I forgive the other deficiencies.

Associated Press, via the San Francisco Chronicle
Yeah, that’s right, it just got real. This bit from the AP borrows from the Courant and Press articles mentioned above, while also touching on similar financial decisions made recently by a number of our peer institutions. More importantly, need-blind got picked up by my (shitty) hometown paper! The article made an appearance in the Boston Globe, too (and probably others?).

Bloomberg News
Though this piece primarily emphasizes the financial choices Grinnell is currently facing (along with a gratuitous amount of Warren Buffet references), Wesleyan also gets a shout-out, thanks to our dubious distinction as the most recent school to cut need-blind. Yay, I guess?

Inside Higher Ed
Inside Higher Ed offers a more nuanced look at the situation at Grinnell, along with more Wes references (roughly equitable to the Bloomberg piece). The article also features an embed of a much more interesting feature they published this past June (by the same author) that really gets down to brass tacks (what a fantastic phrase), including the following choice quote, which may be the clearest thing to have come out of Roth’s lips since this whole debacle began:

“I’m willing to give up the label of need blindness in favor of giving students who are here the best chance of succeeding,” Roth said. “Our job is not to wear a badge of moral purity. Our job is to provide the best chance of success to the students we graduate.”

Obviously, Roth would be remiss to put a barrier in the way of those who have been privileged (and thus predestined for success) since birth. Isn’t ‘murrica wonderful?

The Daily Beast
This larger piece on the Beast regarding college admissions lies has a very brief mention of Wesleyan in its need-blind-ish section, as well as this jab:

 Ah, for the good old days—the days before the Great Recession. Back then, when a college said it was “need blind,” it probably was need blind.

And this comment from languedoctors ’95:

I look forward to informing the Wesleyan Annual Fund that, alas, my support is no longer need blind.

N.B. The author of this post has not actually been using need-blind in his futile attempts to pick up women (though it might not be such a bad idea, given how need-blind his love life is).

Also, I’ve hit the full story button on all these posts for you (including the one I link to in this sentence). You’ll thank me later (curse The Daily Beast!).

7 thoughts on “News Coverage Round-Up: Need-Blind

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  5. Batte_A

    Important note for the Hartford Courant/AP versions of the story, quoting myself. The article says:

    “While Wesleyan’s new policy affects a very small number of students — President Michael Roth estimates perhaps 15 to 20 out of 10,000 applicants — the change reflects the financial strain that even the country’s elite colleges face.”

    Roth’s presentations have consistently said that he aims for 80-90% of admissions decisions to be made need blind. That means 10-20% of applicants – between 1,000 and 2,000 students, if 10,000 is to be taken as the number of total applicants – will be admitted significantly based on whether their families can pay or not, if the 80-90% target is reached.
    Wesleyan’s typical acceptance rate has been around 20% in recent years, so this means that for around 2,000 students, whether their families can afford Wesleyan will have a determining role in whether they are accepted. If 20% (400) of those are accepted, it is entirely unclear which of those hundreds of students got in “because of” their ability to pay, and it’s certainly unclear which of the 1600 were rejected “because” their families didn’t have enough money. If you take 10% as the number, which I’ve heard Roth use in the past, that means about 200 admissions and 800 rejections may have been made because of family income.
    So several things are unclear: a) what “affected” means (Rejections? Considerations? Students choosing to apply or not apply?), b) the number demographics of the students who will be “affected”, and most relevant to the claim in the article, c) how the University can definitively say only “15 to 20” applicants are “affected” when even administrators have not decided exactly how they’re going to make the decision, as they’ve said repeatedly to the Wesleyan community. At the very least, the portion of the article I’m addressing doesn’t make it clear that there is uncertainty around the numbers of students affected.

    1. typo

      “15 to 20 out of 10,000 applicants”

      is this a possible typo on the part of the courant? maybe they should have said 15-20%? if so, someone should request a typo correction.

      1. Batte_A

        It’s not a typo – I copied from a series of emails I sent the author asking to correct it, who basically defended hir decision and recommended I/we write an oped for their under-30 opinions feature. If you’re interested:

        “Or if someone wants to write a fresh talk email Peter Pach atppach[at]courant[dot]com He’s the Fresh Talk editor.”

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