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BUCC discusses admission policy changes, Sidechat content moderation

Attendees criticize admission policy recommendations

<p>BUCC members criticized the admissions policies and their potential impact on diversity, equity and inclusion.</p>

BUCC members criticized the admissions policies and their potential impact on diversity, equity and inclusion.

On Wednesday, the Brown University Community Council — which consists of representatives from University administration, students, faculty, staff and alumni — held a public meeting to discuss Sidechat moderation and recommendations from the Ad Hoc Committee on Admissions Policies. 

Student attendees mostly included members of Students for Educational Equity and the Graduate Labor Organization. Throughout the meeting, some demonstrators displayed signs that read “legacy = privilege” and “leave legacy behind.” Others held signs reading "No universities left in Gaza," "Grad workers for Palestine" and "Divest from genocide."

Provost Francis Doyle III presented recommendations released in early March by the admissions committee. The group recommended that the University reinstate its standardized testing requirements, maintain an early decision admission policy and continue examining preference for applicants with family connections, The Herald previously reported.

“It’s really important to point out … this is happening at a moment where there’s a backdrop in the nation,” Doyle said. “We had the Supreme Court decision on race-conscious admissions, we have a national dialogue going on right now about the requirements around testing, SATs, the national conversation around access and equity in admissions processes and generally a lack of trust in higher ed.”


Doyle added that the committee exclusively focused on data within Brown during their deliberations. 

When discussing the decision to retain early decision, Doyle said the committee found it “an attractive policy for students, consistent with peer practices,” adding that it “really contributes to our ability to enroll a class that’s diverse and highly qualified.” 

Associate Provost for Enrollment and Dean of Undergraduate Admission Logan Powell spoke about Early Decision results for the class of 2028. Due to the Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action, Powell shared that while students still submitted race data in their common application, officers “had to suppress race and ethnicity codes.”

A decade ago, 10% of the incoming class was first-generation, Powell noted. This past year, 19% of the early cohort alone is first-generation. “That’s an all-time high for us,” Powell said, adding that 14% of the early decision applicant pool were first-generation.

Addressing the common criticism that early decision disadvantages lower-income students, Powell said that “the level of generosity … (in financial aid) is available in early decision and regular decision in the same way.”

“There’s no financial disincentive in applying early decision, and for a student who applies early decision and says the aid is not sufficient, we go back and forth,” Powell added. 

Powell added that if Brown is not able to close the “affordability gap,” the University would consider releasing a student from their early decision contract.

Doyle then presented the decision to reinstate test scores. 

He explained a new communications campaign, “testing in context,” which advertises that Brown considers “the background and circumstance” of applicants and looks at test scores in the context of their school environment. Doyle also noted that as a result of test-optional policies, Brown’s reported median score is greatly inflated. 

In the decision to reinstate test scores, Brown outlined limited exceptions to the requirement.


“We will permit very rare cases, I would say war-torn regions like Ukraine, for example, where students aren’t able to get to a testing site when we will have alternatives for them to be able to submit materials,” Doyle said.

The meeting then shifted to a discussion around the third, unresolved part of the recommendation: the use of preferential treatment in the admissions process toward children of alumni and the children of faculty and staff.

“We really were wrestling with competing values in this case … Questions of unearned access, equity and admissions advantage, versus building lifelong affinity to this institution, versus building intergenerational community (and) generating very loyal supporters to enable the work that we do here,” Doyle said.

BUCC members criticized the admissions policies and their potential impact on diversity, equity and inclusion.

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President Christina Paxson P’19 P’MD’20 opened up questions to the audience. Students for Educational Equity Co-President Nick Lee ’26 criticized the decision to maintain legacy admissions until further consideration. Sofia Barnett ’25, a former Herald section editor, criticized the decision to reinstate the testing requirement.

Earlier in the day, SEE hosted a rally with a few dozen attendees, at which they distributed a petition to end legacy admissions that now has over 500 signatures, according to Lee.

BUCC also discussed regulation of Sidechat, the social media platform that allows students within Brown’s community to post anonymously. 

Co-Directors of the Undergraduate Council of Students’ Polling Committee Jay Philbrick ’24.5 and Emily Hong ’26 presented findings from a UCS poll sent on Jan. 19 to the student body, asking for opinions on content that users encountered on Sidechat.

They described their “four step process” for polling, during which they “(went) through sourcing, drafting, sampling, and then analysis and communications.” But the poll was conducted on short notice, and the students expressed regret at their small sample size of 228, including 140 Sidechat users. 

Philbrick said that the vast majority of respondents feel that they have witnessed instances of discrimination on the app.

UCS aimed to communicate to the Brown community the potential harm that Sidechat poses and advocated for more careful monitoring of the platform, he added. 35% of respondents agreed that the app would benefit from expanded monitoring. 

BUCC and the Brown administration critiqued the poll’s methodology and sample size. They also raised concerns about potential selection bias in the sample and whether the phrasing of questions was appropriately neutral. 

Philbrick admitted that different students have “different propensity to respond to the survey,” which could sway the results. 

Members of the council expressed fears that making any decisions based on inaccurate data could have harmful effects on the community. UCS assured BUCC that their polls underwent rigorous editing to protect neutrality, even though they agreed that the small sample size was not ideal. The council also noted that harassment on social media has long been an issue for college campuses. 

Vice President for Marketing Communications and Content Strategy Carly Kite Lapinski also presented the ways that Sidechat moderates its content. Any post reported to the platform by users is reviewed and moderators determine “whether the content should be removed and will remove violating content.”

Clarification: This article has been updated to describe all of the signs displayed by demonstrators at the meeting.

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the sample size of the poll. There were 228 respondents. 

Kate Butts

Kate Butts is a Senior Staff Writer covering University Hall. Outside of the Herald, she loves running, board games and Trader Joe's snacks.

Talia LeVine

Talia LeVine is a photographer for The Herald and a University News Senior Staff Writer focusing on Admissions & Financial aid. She is a first-year from Seattle, WA studying Political Science with an emphasis on human rights.

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