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 Committee Reports.

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 elections.

The Committee on Discipline just finished their first hearing of the year.

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 expenses.

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 media center.

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 fcafa@amherst.edu.

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 the situation.

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.

Respectfully submitted,

James Dubick

Recording Secretary, SGO.