Paying tuition never looked so bucolic
Please put your iPhone back in your Patagonia sweatshirt pocket for a second. Apparently it’s time to rethink the idea that the Wesleyan student body is entirely made up of students from upper-class families, at least according to new data from the New York Times. In conjunction with an article on colleges recruiting from an increasingly diverse set of economic backgrounds, the Times has published a chart comparing the economic diversity of various schools. And Wesleyan has come out at number 13 on the list.
The chart ranks colleges according to a College Access Index, which is based on the percent of the past few freshman classes who came from low-income families (measured by the share receiving a Pell grant) and on the net price of attendance for low- and middle-income families. The data states that 18% of freshman classes arriving 2012-14 have received Pell grants, and that the average cost for low- and middle-income students is $8,700 a year. This gives Wesleyan a College Access Ranking of 1.5, putting us below Amherst and above Williams, for reference.
So maybe you’re a freshman, nervous and overwhelmed by all the information coming at you about classes, housing, what to bring from home – and are feeling like you can’t even begin to think about bigger issues on campus. Or maybe you’re a senior and feel like you’ve gotten this far and never really involved yourself in any social/political engagement on campus, so now it’s way too late and where would you even begin if you wanted to. Wherever you might stand, activism at Wes can seem like a huge, widespread and unnavigable thing.
Thankfully, some very committed students are trying to change that sentiment and make activism within the Wesleyan world an approachable and cohesive community. This past week, the Disorientation Guide was released through the University Organizing Center site to bring together the wide-ranging issues affecting us into one document. The entire Disorientation zine can be downloaded here, and I strongly recommend that everyone take a look at it.
On Tuesday night, Jacques Steinberg spoke to a sweltering Memorial Chapel. He is the author of The Gatekeepers, a bestselling nonfiction account of the college admissions process that used Wesleyan as its backdrop, but the subject of the evening revolved around a more urgent issue in higher education than just the insane selectivity of the best schools — that of college affordability. Steinberg had recently left his post at The Choice, the New York Times education blog that he pioneered, to work at a New York-based nonprofit called Say Yes to Education that helps disadvantaged high school students get into college, pay for it, and graduate.
Many of the problems he described, he felt, were too urgent to simply stand by and observe as a journalist. With budget cuts, many college counselors’ caseloads in public schools have ballooned to over 500 students. The student loan/debt cycle is a familiar anxiety to many students here, as well as recent graduates, and he described how some graduates in debt don’t pay off their loans until their children are almost ready to go to college.
He reminded Wesleyan students of how fortunate they were, in spite of the controversy over need-aware admissions. Wesleyan remains one of the few institutions in the country that can meet students’ full demonstrated financial need. The question of the value of higher education, he said, is relatively new and wasn’t really circulating at the time that he wrote The Gatekeepers, but now it will likely become a key policy question in the next few years. He said it will probably become important to ask about vocational and differently-paced tiers of higher education without seeming racist or insulting.
After last week’s controversial note from Physical Plant, Wesleyan Students for Disability Rights has responded to comments about the new practice of bike ticketing. Basically, it’s a way of surveying certain areas to see whether they are in need of more bike racks, and the racks have already been funded. No word on what the line is between being ticketed and having your bike confiscated:
You may or may not have seen purple bike tickets around campus recently. If you have, you might have wondered, “What if there aren’t enough bike racks?”
When WSDR, Wesleyan Students for Disability Rights, decided to raise awareness about accessibility issues on campus last year, we spoke to physical plant and public safety about our concerns regarding bikes people were chaining to handrails.
There are two issues we are concerned with: people don’t necessarily realize (or maybe care, but we prefer to give the benefit of the doubt!) that they might be restricting the movement of their peers, and we were running out of space.
Want to keep up with the WSA but don’t have much time? Starting today, the WSA will publish a weekly one-page newsletter to let you know the highlights of what we’ve worked on for the week and what we’ll discuss at our Sunday meeting. The extensive committee reports listing our full activities will still be available online.
Note that the WSA is meeting in Freshman Fauver Lounge tonight at 7PM in an effort to be more accessible. Drop by!
Susanna Myrseth ’10 writes:
Interested in making Wesleyan more accessible? Wesleyan Students for Disability Rights is putting together a comprehensive proposal to present to the Wesleyan community. Right now we have a working draft that includes accessibility needs and goals in academic, residential, structural, administrative, and social areas.
What’s the next step? Your input. Whether you’re a student with a disability, an ally, or anywhere in between, we want to know what you’re thinking about accessibility at Wesleyan.
Got a specific idea? A general desire to be involved? A question? A comment? Want to see the document so far? Email smyrseth(at)wesleyan(dot)edu!