Letter: Response to ‘Brown Promise’ initiative

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Friday, September 22, 2017

To the Editor:

I am writing to comment on Wednesday’s article on the “Brown Promise” initiative. I’d like to applaud the initiative and recognize that eliminating loans from financial aid packages makes admissions more inclusive and diverse. Although this promise is contingent on raising $30 million by December, I strongly believe that our generous and supportive community will see the value — and necessity — of this initiative. I am particularly pleased that this change “will apply to both domestic and international students.” The administration rightly recognizes the importance of applying financial aid policies to all students in order to make good on our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Yet there is one glaring inconsistency in the application of this principle: Almost 15 years after its introduction, need-blind financial aid is still not available to international students. It is inconceivable that our community can truly “represent a full range of experiences, perspectives and ideas” — to quote President Christina Paxson P’19 — without making international admissions need-blind. Our failure to honor our pledge means that we lag behind our peers — Amherst, Harvard, MIT, Princeton and Yale are need-blind and need-based for all applicants, including international students.  If we truly believe in a diverse, inclusive community, we must commit to extending need-blind admissions to international students as soon as possible.

Aliosha Bielenberg ’20