STUDENT POLICY COMMITTEE
1-March 1999, 9:00 PM
Converse Red Room
President Tom Gray called the meeting to order at 9:00 PM and asked for
Class of 1999 President Andrew Galvin announced that he was working to
get paper towels and soap in all the campus bathrooms.
Class of 2002 President James Orraca-Tetteh said he was planning an
alumni/Class of 2002 gathering for April 13th.
Class of 2000 President Michael Demichele said he was planning a class
barbeque for March 30th.
Charles Field '99 said the College Council was looking into cable costs
and was looking to raise the cable fee $7.50 in order to have it installed
in all the houses. That question would be on the ballot during SGO
The Committee on Discipline just finished their first hearing of the
Tom announced that the Committee on Educational Policy had a new
member, Luke Blocher '01. The Committee reported that they had just
approved new courses for next year.
The Committee on Physical Education and Athletics attended the first
ever NESCAC student advisory committee conference, held at Tufts.
The Committee on Priorities and Resources is looking into financial aid
The Trustee Advisory Committee on Student Life is going to present the
results of the SGO survey to the Trustees at their April meeting.
The Library Committee recently chose 17 movies to be purchased for the
The International Student Association is preparing its annual dinner.
They recently held a lecture on UNESCO and an international poetry night.
La Causa is currently discussing Orientation.
The Student Finance Committee has recently solved the mystery of why we
pay so much for the PVTA bus system and is looking to have Amherst's share
of the costs reduced.
Professor Rockwell introduced the Faculty Committee on Admissions and
Financial Aid (FCAFA), which wished to get student input on admissions
issues. He opened the floor by noting that the committee was reviewing
admissions policy for the first time in 15 years.
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Joe Paul Case gave some
statistical background on admissions. Each year, 50,000 high school
students inquire about Amherst. This year, 5,188 applied, and we admitted
about 20% (between 800-900). We accepted 127 students early decision this
year, and will probably take about 25 students off the wait list. In the
end, the Class of 2003 will hopefully have 415 students.
In the admissions process, applications are read by two deans, who
evaluate the applicant on two numerical scales, one for academics and one
for extracurricular activities. The deans have guidelines for what
constitutes different scores on those scales. Those two deans then
present the applicant to the committee. Applications are read on a
geographical basis, and international applicants are read separately.
Vanessa Olivier '01 pointed out that students benefit very little from
outside scholarships they receive. However, Dean Case explained that the
system had changed so that next year, students would receive significantly
less in loans if they had outside scholarships. Dean Case also noted that
the Capital Campaign has raised only $18 million of the $35 million target
for financial aid endowment money.
FCAFA member Brennan Griffin '99 argued that we need to redefine out
definition of need to include a broader range of students.
Tom shifted the focus of the discussion to admissions. Dean Case
explained that coaches rate recruited athletes on their abilities and
potential contribution to the team and give that information to
admissions. This is not the top admissions priority, but it is important,
since we usually need at least 100 new student athletes each year to keep
our teams full. Also, the coaches have a committee that meets to decide
overall athletic priorities. He noted that academic departments are
consulted about portfolios that students submit as well.
Mike Demichele '00 asked how admissions balanced academics and
extracurriculars. Dean Case explained that the admissions staff tries to
look at the whole applicant, so there is no real formula. 60-70% of our
applicants are of high enough quality to be admitted, so we look for a
variety of different characteristics and types of people.
Professor Rockwell asked students what they wanted at Amherst. Charles
Field responded that we want multi-dimensional people, not just nerds.
Rebecca Stair answered that we need more quirky people. Ned B. Friend '01
said that multi-dimensional students are boring.
Tom asked the SPC how athletics affects campus culture. Adriene Hill
'99 said that the campus community has huge stereotypes and divisions
related to athletics. Luke Blocher pointed out that professors have
stereotypes about athletes as well.
Bilal Muhammad '99 said that the school needs non-apathetic people.
Scott Kerns '01 asked if we might consider reinstating interviews for
applicants. Director of Admission Kathrine Fretwell said that the idea
was being considered.
Professor Rockwell explained that further comments could be sent to
Kelley Brown '99 stated that she felt the discussion had been too
focused on athletics. The college has serious issues of socioeconomic and
racial diversity that need to be addressed. She asked for another
discussion or forum that would focus on issues other than athletics.
Rebecca explained that she had heard about the recent changes to
UMass's admissions policy and had asked a UMass group to come and explain
Nandini Balakrishna from the Anti-Racism Coalition at UMass introduced
herself. She explained that two groups, the Center for Equal Opportunity
and the Center for Individual Rights, had been considering suing UMass, as
they had other universities, over the issue of affirmative action. This
political pressure, in addition to a recent court ruling in Boston, had
prompted UMass to de-emphasize race in its admissions decisions. Student
groups at UMass were organizing to convince the administration that this
was the wrong decision.
Rebecca explained that a statement of support had been written up and
she asked the SPC if they were interested in passing that statement.
Scott made a motion to pass the statement, seconded by Brennan. The
motion passed, 23-5-1.
Adriene made a motion to adjourn, seconded by Scott. Passed
unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 11:00 p.m.
Recording Secretary, SGO.