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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Is Carleton committed to economic diversity?

<llment focuses on the College’s budgetary response to the recent financial market crisis. Does the budgetary response reflect a genuine commitment to providing a diverse residential community? No. Instead of taking steps to lower tuition and increase aid available to low-income students, the College put its priorities elsewhere. The Update on Carleton’s Budgetary Planning, released on February 24, makes two main budgetary adjustments for next fiscal year. Together they symbolize how the College is reneging on its advertised commitment towards a diverse student body. Instead, the College favors the creation of an increasingly elitist demographic by recruiting the rich and bankrolling a few token students of diversity.

First, the College increases faculty and staff compensation. To quote from the Update, “In the coming year both faculty and staff will receive very modest compensation increases.” The endowment fell 20 percent in calendar year 2008. It fell. To raise pay in this climate is like a re-run of the AIG bonus scandal: when the company takes a hit, pay the faculty and staff more. Americans are losing jobs by the millions. Every dollar raise paid to faculty and staff could (and should) be a dollar in financial aid to suffering American families. The College’s commitment to providing a diverse residential community cannot be taken seriously, when in a severe economic downturn the college pays faculty more money. The positions of all faculty and staff that are over the age of fifty-five should be immediately reviewed. Insofar as this age bracket receives the most in compensation and has had the most time to accumulate personal savings, it should be laid-off first. In addition, the President and Senior Administration should take substantial pay-cuts, symbolizing their wholehearted commitment to one of the College‘s “highest principles:” a diverse student body.

Second, the College commits to hiring more faculty. According to the Update, “At the encouragement of the Trustees, we thus made the decision to ensure Carleton’s academic excellence by continuing all of our tenure-track faculty searches.” When finances run low, hire more faculty! The College is not acting with common sense. In times of economic crisis, the average American has an impaired ability to afford Carleton. The low-income American has an especially impaired ability to afford Carleton. To respond to the recession, the College should make financial assistance its priority. If it refuses, which it is, then middle and low-income students will go elsewhere (or even worse: nowhere). The College claims that the presence of middle and low-income students is a vested interest. If this is the case, why do the College’s investments not reflect this? The answer is because the College is not all that interested in economic diversity on campus.

As the above fiscal decisions demonstrate, the College only commits to diversity in a very limited sense. Diversity and minority students are useful commodities insofar as they appease the consciences of the elite who patronize this institution. Requiring only a small portion of the budget, most funds are allocated towards more and increasingly expensive faculty. The College’s so-called diversity initiatives are a mere distraction to obfuscate the true nature of the student body.

The following weeks will feature articles like this one, featuring specific actions of the College that seem to violate the goals of its mission statement. Stay tuned.

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

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