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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Brandeisian dream

Published: September 3, 2010
Section: Editorials

The Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid Thursday announced that, if financially needed, the university should in the future become “need-sensitive” in its admissions.

Currently, the only students not admitted through “need-blind” means are international students and students admitted from the wait-list. If approved by the Department of Admissions, this recommendation could soon come into practice.

The nation’s financial crisis has, once again, caused Brandeis to reconsider our priorities. We strongly urge the Admissions department to consult the Brandeis community at large and think long and hard before adopting a position that would speak to the character of our university.

Brandeis has long insisted that we are an academic institution firmly rooted in social justice, and it would appear that declining access to students whom the Admissions Department deems too needy would be a departure from that mission.

Brandeis is also an institution founded on academic excellence, and any budget cuts, or academic cuts, that would result from an attempt to save need-blind admissions would also be a setback to our university. We hoped that last spring’s academic restructuring would be the end of cuts at Brandeis, but what Thursday’s announcement suggests is that the cuts will keep coming.

Certain cuts, however drastic, must be on the table if using a mathematical formula that accurately guesses aid, determining which students are accepted instead of others who may demonstrate more financial need, is being debated. These possible cuts can and should include even certain academic programs; faculty hiring decisions; and student and staff conveniences many of us are accustomed to.

Judging students by the amount of money they or their families can or cannot pay, at any time or under any circumstances, limits the educational opportunities and meaningful collegiate life experiences of all of us. A community of one stripe and status does not a socially just world make. An unrepresentative Brandeis class, populated after a certain limit only by the well-to-do and fortunate, undermines the very notions of diversity and acceptance. Brandeis should give graduates far more than a skewed lens of American life, and offer students an accurate and inclusive look at the American class structure and beyond it to what we all share.

The American dream is not often accomplished alone.

One of the highest priorities on this or any campus should be the no-barriers access to education for bright, enthusiastic students of all races, creeds and socioeconomic status.