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ISSUE 117 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 11/21/2003

Letters to the Editor

By Melanie Meinzer
Contributing Writer


Friday, November 21, 2003

Dear Mess Editors,

I applaud St. Olaf’s proposed change to a need-sensitive application process. The way to solve a major financial crisis is through a major change, which this shift most definitely would be.

Need-sensitive aid would result in a huge cut in the projected $3.2 million deficit, which can be demonstrated by doing some simple math. Assuming an incoming class of 750 students, the last 75 students would be admitted with priority given to students who can fully pay for their tuition. Since 63 percent of students receive need-based aid, we can assume that 63 percent of this bottom 10 percent, or 47 students, would not be admitted, and 47 full-paying students would be taken instead.

If the average need-based award from St. Olaf is $10,000 (an estimate, but close to the actual average), the school cuts $470,000 from the budget. While the math is simplified and the actual numbers are surely different, is it apparent that the change to need-sensitive aid will result in a massive amount of money saved by the college.

Need-sensitive aid does not mean that students unable to pay for tuition will be kept from attending St. Olaf. 90 percent of these students – the 90 percent who are most deserving of a place at St. Olaf by virtue of their academic records – will still be admitted. The only difference will be the admission of 47 mediocre students who have a lot of money instead of 47 mediocre students who do not have a lot of money. Will this result in a decrease in the racial diversity of St. Olaf, as the editors of the Mess suggest?

I believe it is an oversimplification to say that losing poor students equates to losing students who are minorities. Not all the poor students at St. Olaf are minorities, and not all of the minorities are poor. Need-sensitive aid may very well have little effect on the diversity of incoming students.

If the change to need-sensitive aid does result in a loss of diversity, the school will need to find another way to attract minority students who are not affected by the change to need-sensitive aid – specifically, minority students who do not fall into the bottom 10 percent of the admitted class. In any case, St. Olaf needs to decide what is more important – fulfilling quotas, or ensuring the financial survival of the school.

– Daniel Grupe ’05

Dear Mess Editors,

As one of the leaders of Feminists for Change (FFC), I was troubled by Ben Heidgerken’s editorial, “Roe v. Wade missed mark.” I am personally disturbed by his lack of respect for the rights of women to choose what to do with their own bodies. Even more so, I am unhappy with Heidgerken’s misrepresentation of the views of the members of FFC.

In his article, Heidgerken stated, “The Feminists for Change on campus said that the mother alone must decide whether the fetus is alive or not.” Later, he quipped, “To say, especially as the FFC have, that a fetus may be alive for some people in some circumstances but not in others, makes no sense.”

Both of statements are libelous. The members of FFC carry a wide variety of opinions on the issue of abortion. Our organization has never made any statements attempting to speak for our entire group, regarding abortion or any other matter. Ben Heidgerken did not contact any of the leaders, or, to my knowledge, members of FFC, nor did he quote the occasion during which he had the opportunity to speak with a feminist. It would have been far more respectable, responsible, and believable had Heidgerken quoted an individual with the above statements, rather than incorrectly attributing them to FFC.

– Casey Landau ‘04





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