University News

Financial aid petition seeks support

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Brown for Financial Aid released an online petition at the beginning of the semester calling for President Christina Paxson, Provost Mark Schlissel P ’15 and the Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, to commit to universal need-blind admission within the next 10 years. The petition also requests lower summer earnings expectation by “at least $1,000.”

“Our goal is to get the administration to commit to specific and concrete policies now,” said BFA President Alex Mechanick ’15.

The group’s first petition, which circulated at the end of spring 2012, garnered more than 1,500 signatures within three weeks, Mechanick said. The first petition was “broader and less specific,” because Paxson had not yet begun the strategic planning process at that time, he added.

This second petition’s goals are similar to those defined by the Committee for Financial Aid’s interim report, released Jan. 25. The interim report lists universal need blind admission as a “long term commitment” and a reduction in the summer earnings expectation among “immediate needs.”

The organization hopes the entire undergraduate student body will sign the petition, which is being promoted through social media, contact with student groups and canvassing, Mechanick said.

Takamichi Akutsu ’15 said he signed the petition in hopes of expanding the opportunity of studying at Brown to all applicants.

“I wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t that kind of support for financial aid,” he said.

Jamelle Watson-Daniels ’15 signed the petition after hearing about friends who were negatively impacted by current financial aid policies.

“It needs to be changed immediately,” she said.

Watson-Daniels said the summer earnings expectation is “unrealistic” — she had two unpaid internships last summer and had to take out a loan to cover the expectation. But she said she understands the difficulty the University will face in changing current policies because of the costs it might incur.

“These are goals that can be funded with a new fundraising campaign,” Mechanick said. “The student body understands that the money that goes into making sure we have the best undergraduate body … is a much more important investment than many other priorities.”

In a poll conducted by the Undergraduate Council of Students in the fall, 53 percent of respondents agreed the University should adopt universal need blind admission, even if it means making spending cuts in other areas, while 29 percent felt it should be adopted only if money could be raised from fundraising.

The poll results reflected “heavy support” for universal need-blind admission for both domestic and international students, said UCS President Anthony White ’13. “We definitely support the mission of Brown for Financial Aid.”

After last Wednesday’s general body meeting, all nine executive officers signed a letter to Paxson and Schlissel urging the University to commit to all goals outlined in the committee’s interim report.

At its Feb. 27 general body meeting, UCS will host Jim Tilton and Susan Harvey, co-chairs of the committee, to engage in an extended dialogue on financial aid, White said.

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