WU/FUSED and SU join forces, develop need-blind report
In the wake of Chancellor Andrew Martin’s announcement of a need-blind admissions goal, Washington University for Undergraduate Socioeconomic Diversity, Student Union and the Roosevelt Network collaborated to develop a need-blind report that was sent to the administration, Nov. 22.
The report analyses financial data from both Washington University and similar universities, and outlines recommendations to the administration on the path to becoming need-blind. The creators of the document have asked administrators for feedback within two weeks.
“We have evidence of our peer institutions and how they became need-blind and then understanding how the cost would affect Wash. U. and why we can afford this,” WU/FUSED member junior Sasha Chapnick-Sorokin said. “It’s really just kind of a set of data that helps to back up why we think need-blind initiatives are so important for Wash. U.”
Earlier this year, WU/FUSED—a student organization that advocates for socioeconomic diversity—released a survey about student opinion on the University going need-blind. SU then reached out to the WU/FUSED about the possibility of creating a report.
“We reached out to see if maybe they would be interested in co-writing, or just themselves writing, a report, since we’ve had some success around writing reports and presenting those to administrators,” junior and Senator Sophie Scott said.
The report was also a collaboration with the Roosevelt Network, another organization focused on socioeconomic diversity. Together, these groups met and discussed what the report should look like.
“We [worked] with SU, which was definitely a very influential and helpful voice for the student body on campus, and [the Roosevelt Network],” Cook said. “By working with these other groups we hope to garner more interest and gain more momentum in this need-blind initiative.”
“I think part of Senate’s mission is to advocate for the needs and interests for all students,” Scott said. “Students have made it abundantly clear that they want this as soon as possible.”
WU/FUSED has been a long-time advocate of need-blind admissions, but according to Cook, the chancellor’s announcement propelled the creation of this document.
“[With] Chancellor Martin’s announcement earlier in the semester, we found this to be an optimal time to really start working on solidifying a document to reach administrators through this sort of catalyst of the chancellor’s understanding that it’s important to make Wash. U. need-blind,” Cook said.
Scott said the report is divided into multiple sections: data on student perceptions from the WU/FUSED survey, data on peer institutions, data on the University’s finances, projections on how much it would cost the University and recommendations to the administration.
Out of all the data laid out in the report, Chapnick-Sorokin is most passionate about the recommendations to administrators.
“I think that all of us would agree that the most important part is our recommendations,” she said. “It has been really cool to [create], because we had to make sure that we had the research to back up why we were recommending what we were recommending.”
One recommendation is for the chancellor to convene a working group to analyze when the University could go need-blind.
“We’re requesting that one or two students be able to sit on this working group with administrators to provide the student perspective and ensure that a student voice is in the room where those conversations are happening,” Scott said.
Other recommendations include the creation of a student task force and data transparency.
“Something we ran into during this process was that we couldn’t as students really do a full financial analysis because there’s a lack of information available, [and] the information that is available is kind of in broad brush strokes,” Scott said.
Looking ahead, WU/FUSED hopes that the report aids the administration in continuing working towards this goal.
“We just want to make sure that they are centering the student voice, [and] that this decision is based off of knowing that this is one of students’ top priorities right now for Wash. U,” Chapnick-Sorokin said.
“One thing is we hope to continue to have conversations about the importance of need-blind with administrators and the student body. As a result of those conversations, we hope to see tangible change,” Cook said. “We hope that this report doesn’t just sit on the back burner, but that it’s really something that urges administrators to make an institutional change for the betterment of students here, now and in the future.”