Members of the Oberlin Socialist Student Union met Tuesday to discuss financial aid and need-blind aid issues, and focused on issues of diversity in the population as a result of financial aid changes.
Around 20 people came to talk about possible alternatives to increase funding for financial aid students. The goal of the meeting was, as the OSSU agenda stated, to "find ways to work for a just financial aid policy at the College."
Junior Ramy Khalil and sophomore Mary Jerzak both spoke on the topic, then fielded questions, which turned into a discussion on steps OSSU could take to push the administration to increase the aid they give students.
Members of the meeting felt the absence of need-blind decreased diversitiy on campus, and that the administration didn't take socio-economic diversity into account when defining the term "diversity" for advertisement and statistics.
"If you have a school of rich white people you're not going to change the world, and you're certainly not going to change the way you see the world," Jerzak said.
In 1974 the General Faculty promised to enroll 100 African Americans every year, and that goal was only met once, in 1977, according to Jerzak.
Khalil also spoke about research OSSU has done on the College's financial aid history.
"We don't have all the answers, but I'd like to take some time to let you know what we've found out," Khalil said.
Khalil talked about the College's decison to take away need-blind admissions in 1994 and initially thought the College should reinstate need-blind admissions. He thought the College was lying when they said they didn't have enough money for need-blind, but realized this is a problem many institutions face.
Instead of focusing on Oberlin's own educational dilemma, Khalil and other members talked about the government's role in education, saying it was undemocratic that education was not available to everyone. Khalil said the federal government invested more money into education in the '60s and '70s than it does at present. He questioned why the U.S. didn't have free higher education like some European countries and Canada.
"I believe in the power of education; that it is a right, not a privlege," Khalil said.
One member felt the government cut financial aid to higher learning institutions to keep those populations less diverse.
Jerzak also talked about the "condescending attitude" administrators have toward students. She said some people weren't truthful with statistics and facts concerning need blind, and gave examples such as a secretary someone called who said need-blind was still intact.
Members of the meeting came up with a list of demands they want to see the College meet, and reinstating need-blind admissions was top on the list. They also wanted to see the administration take soci-economic diversity into account when compiling statistics and looking at class diversity ratios.
A common concern among meeting members was that many College students are on financial aid, and are afraid to take action for fear they lose their aid. Jerzak felt that was a strategy of the College to keep students quiet about changes in the financial aid system.
Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 125, Number 22, April 25, 1997
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