In an email sent today from the Office of Financial Aid, Pitzer College announced their plans to redistribute the entirety of their annual financial aid scholarship fund— meant to assist students unable to pay the school’s tuition cost— to students within the schools top income bracket for the coming 2018-2019 school year.
Meant to be the first step in the school’s new “Traversing Differences” initiative, the change is meant to “better instill empathy into students of affluent backgrounds by replicating conditions that students on financial assistance must face within the environment of higher education” the email explains.
Elaborating on the purpose of the initiative in his newsletter, President Oliver remarked “what better way is there to teach a wealthy person the struggle of poverty than awarding them all the financial assistance and benefits given to those less fortunate?” The president went on to say the initiative falls in line with Pitzer’s longtime commitment to radical explorations of social justice, referencing a time in 1983 when the entire freshman class was infected with cholera to teach them about the struggles of those without clean drinking water.
Though the initiative is not meant to take effect until the fall some students have already begun sounding off on the change. Katty McIntyre (PZ ‘21), whose father is an executive at Merrill Lynch, explained, “though I know that I’m significantly privileged, I think that in receiving a full ride scholarship meant for someone else, I’ll learn that in some ways, I too am economically disadvantaged.” Katty went on to speak about her own financial struggles, explaining how she thought she’d have to settle on getting a Nissan because her insurance wouldn’t cover replacing the car she totaled when she mistook a palm tree for an In-N-Out drive thru. Now that her tuition is covered, however, Katty says she doesn’t have to worry. “Thanks to empathy, I can buy a new Rolls-Royce.”
As with any significant institutional change, some have voiced concerns about the new initiative, asking what is to be done to help those students still in need of financial assistance so that they can still attend Pitzer and obtain an education. In accordance with the “Traversing Differences” goal of instilling empathy between students of differing backgrounds, Pitzer will provide students on financial aid with those accommodations that largely define the college experience of wealthy students, which amongst other things will include access to music festivals, substantial grade inflation and of course, snow-capped mountains of glorious cocaine.
Redistribution of financial aid is the first of multiple steps to be taking as a part of the new college-wide initiative. Other changes to be instituted in the coming year, will include affirmative action for white students, special parking spots for able-bodied people, and giving all male faculty twelve weeks off whenever a baby is born.