Letter from the author  of “The Fight for Pell: The History of Socioeconomic Diversity at WashU Series”

| Junior Sports Editor

The reporting for this series was greatly influenced by Washington University’s decision to adopt a need-blind policy in its admission system during the fall 2021 semester. Last year, I began talking to current WashU students who identify as first-generation (the first in their family to attend college) and low-income. My initial goal was to write a simple Student Life article showcasing the lives of Pell-eligible students and their transitions to WashU. 

My conversations with those individuals often became deeply personal, and I felt like I needed to do the issue of socioeconomic diversity on campus justice by diving deep into the history of how we got here as an institution. Thus, “The Fight for Pell: The History of Socioeconomic History at WashU” series was born. 

Over the summer of 2022, I took a break. When I returned to campus for the fall semester, I officially started conducting research. My reporting continued throughout last semester as I conducted in-depth conversations with several students and alumni of the Washington University community — especially members of the Washington University for Socioeconomic Diveristy (WU/FUSED) a group that fought for increase in Pell-eligible students — who shared their experiences and perspectives about the fight to make WashU more socioeconomically diverse. I also got the chance to speak with higher education journalists with over 10 years of experience on the issue of college accessibility. This series focuses specifically on the socioeconomic diversity activism that made it possible for need-blind admission to become a reality.

But more than anything, this series is a celebration of  WU/FUSED decades-long work to make WashU a more socioeconomically diverse university. It’s a celebratory account of past Pell-eligible students and their courage to share their experiences for the sake of making WashU a better place for everyone. Regardless of your family income, I hope this series sparks some sort of reflection or conversations regarding socioeconomic diversity on campus, with the eventual understanding that our college experience is made better when we interact with people from identities that we don’t share — in this case, socioeconomic identity.

Lastly, I would like to offer my thanks to everyone who spoke with me for this story, this series wouldn’t have been possible without your voices.

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