Senate Beat: Deans Address Student Questions Regarding Admissions and Financial Aid
ASCMC’s fifth Senate meeting of the semester convened on Monday night in the Freeburg Forum at 9:00 P.M. Melanie Wolfe ’20 and Gemma Sykes ’20 both gave updates on behalf of the Consortium committee.
Wolfe updated the Senate on the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) attempting to give other 5C students access to the Pomona course review catalogue, which is currently only available to Pomona students. Furthermore, she notified the Senate of continued attempts to begin a 5C mental health database for students.
Sykes informed the Senate that Harvey Mudd’s student government is in the process of implementing a student-driven honor code, and raised a question as to why CMC has not done the same. President Pro Tempore Thomas Schalke ’18 explained that despite several attempts at doing so in the past, ASCMC has not been able to reach the threshold of student support necessary to pass an honor code. Sykes continued her update on Harvey Mudd by notifying the Senate of an ongoing philanthropic campaign at Harvey Mudd, in which dorms are competing to raise money for charity. So far, student participation in the campaign is around 47%.
Next, Elliot Behling ’19, committee head of the recently revived Student Engagement Committee, explained that he had set a meeting with Pitzer’s Student Engagement Committee to see how they function. Behling's committee has been and is continuing to write up goals and guidelines for their committee.
Ryan Chakmak ’19, head of the Technology, Innovation, and Student Affairs Committee gave his update. He reminded all senators to register on Slack, and is hoping to get new voting tools for the Senate, given the occasional problems with the “clickers” that are currently used.
Connor Bloom ‘19, chair of the Campus Improvements Committee, notified the Senate that the third round of the new architectural draft for what will become of the Bubble have begun. He will be sending out surveys regarding new potential designs for snapchat filters around campus.
Sam Becker ’19, head of the Environmental Affairs Committee, concluded updates by telling the Senate that the committee is in the process of reviewing Sustainability Fund applications, and would be finished deciding what to fund by this Friday. He also updated the Senate on the committee’s continued work towards minimizing food waste, and that they were currently evaluating which programs they think would be most effective.
Following these updates, Matthew Swift ’18 of the AAA committee presented a funding request from the 5C Women’s Soccer Club. CMC students make up 4 of the 24 members of the team, but ASCMC gave no funding to the club this past fall, and has not yet allocated money for the spring semester. On the contrary, this past fall Pomona gave $200 for 3 students, Pitzer gave $175 for their 4 players, Harvey Mudd gave $20 for 1 student, and Scripps gave $1175 for 11 students. All other schools are committed to paying the same amount for this spring, with the exception of Pitzer due to budgetary issues. The AAA Committee recommended funding $780, but given that the Senate fund has over $5,000 left to use before spring break, and that ASCMC had not funded the club previously this year, the Senate voted in favor of a second motion to fund the club $1,000.
Following the funding request, Georgette DeVeres, Associate Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, spoke to the Senate. She talked about the importance of students in the admissions process and office on campus, and described a number of programs (including fly-ins, visits to schools, and meetings with college counselors from under-resourced schools) that the CMC admissions team takes part in to ensure a diverse and well-rounded class of students every year.
Clint Gasaway, the Director of Financial Aid, also spoke to the Senate. Gasaway began by clarifying that the goal of the financial aid office is to assist all accepted students who want to attend CMC, regardless of their parents’ financial resources. He additionally spoke on the office’s commitment to helping students study off-campus regardless of financial background, and explained that this year’s financial aid process would rely on 2015 tax returns, given a federal rollback which is aimed to give students earlier notification of their aid packages and ultimately facilitate the process.
Both DeVeres and Gasaway proceeded to field questions from Senators.
When asked why outside scholarships displace need-based grants, Gasaway responded, “In 90-95% of cases they don’t, but when there’s a full scholarship it has to displace it.”
When asked why this year there are fewer McKenna scholarships and more science and interdisciplinary scholarships, DeVeres explained that there was funding donated specifically for Science scholarships, and that some scholarship money had to be relocated from the McKenna scholars program to other similar scholarships.
One senator asked why there are talks of consistent cuts to initial aid packages year-to-year. Several prospective students had said they were warned by other schools that there are often yearly cuts made to student aid packages.
Gasaway answered by saying that 75% of current students received increases in grant money from last year this past fall, and that the most common reason cuts are made to aid is a change in the number of children the family has enrolled in college currently.
Another senator asked DeVeres how early decision affects diversity, given the disproportionate number of affluent students who apply during this period, and how Admissions is working to fix that.
DeVeres responded that the problem is something Admissions is aware of, which is part of the reason CMC has re-partnered with Questbridge.
After a long round of questioning, the Senate adjourned at 10:20 P.M.