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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carleton undermines its commitement to diversity: Despite claims of a diverse student body, high tuition levels are a detriment to campus diversity

<ecent weeks, the College has taken numerous actions that violate a central principle in its mission statement: providing a diverse residential community. Because we affirm the great value of diversity on campus, we have written a multi-part critique of the College‘s actions. Each part of the series, published weekly, will feature a specific action of the College that seriously undermines its commitment to a diverse residential community.

The College declares its commitment to diversity in these unequivocal terms: “Because creative and talented people come from many places and have many backgrounds, Carleton College is dedicated to attracting and retaining a diverse faculty, staff, student body, and Board of Trustees and sees this as among our highest priorities” (Carleton College Statement on Diversity). According to its mission statement, preserving a diverse student body is among the College’s “highest priorities.” In this series, we will show that the College has failed in its commitment to this priority and lay out our solution to this problem.

The Carleton College student body is not diverse in large part because it is not affordable for most families. A quick look at the Class of 2012 income summary reveals its affluent homogeneity. According to the Admissions webpage, at least half of this class belongs to households that earn incomes of over $200,000. In contrast, only about three percent of US households earn incomes over $200,000 per year. At least half of 2012 is in the top three percent nationally? Is this diversity?

If Carleton were committed to supporting low-income students, then its financial support to those students would increase dramatically in times of extreme financial recession. However, no such support has been given. The two measures taken in response to the recent financial crisis are trivial, and primarily designed to assure tokenism for the covers of brochures sent to alumni and prospective students. The College’s Update on Budgetary Planning, released on Febr­uary 24, outlines these measures:

“Financial aid will be increased for the coming year at a level at least as high as our increase in the comprehensive fee, with an additional $250,000 to cover the cost of the Carleton Access Scholarship Program which we began last year.”

In light of the above budgetary adjustment, the College’s commitment to affordability and consequentially diversity is trivial for two reasons. First, the College does increase financial aid, but not relative to the amount of the comprehensive fee. Regarding this relative figure, the College only guarantees that aid will not decrease. Second, the College scholarship program mentioned aids only a small number of low-income students. Based on the above figure and next year’s comprehensive fee, the Carleton Access Scholarship Program can fully fund the equivalent of five students. Are five students sufficient for a diverse residential community?

Together, these budgetary moves reveal the shallowness of the College’s commitment to meaningful diversity.

The College is lacking a student body of diversity because the cost of tuition is exorbitantly high and the aid is generally insufficient.

-Ryan McLaughlin graduated in 2008 and Jacob Schak is a fourth year student

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