Students respond to the YDN’s coverage of Tuesday’s forum:

So far as I can tell, President Levin “stated” no “plan” to reform financial aid at last night’s forum (“Levin states plan to alter financial aid,” 2/23). Instead, he misrepresented both the YCC resolution and the Undergraduate Organizing Committee platform, despite, with the case of the UOC platform, having four months to study the document and as many invitations to discuss it with students. He asked us for our input about financial aid when, in fact, the UOC platform was already compiled out of the input of more than 300 students. And he left 40 minutes early, not even staying to hear the input he sought. We’re not seeking a discussion based on the false dichotomy between the self-help and family contributions; we’re seeking reform — over 1,100 students have signed on to a platform for reform to both the self-help and family contributions — and we’re seeking it now. Levin attended last night’s forum with little understanding of financial aid at Yale and even less respect for those of us who are on it. As students, we demand more, and we won’t stop fighting until we get it.
Phoebe Rounds ’07

…Was the reporter even at the open forum Tuesday night? The headline you ran on Wednesday morning, “Levin states plan to alter financial aid” is a terrible misrepresentation of what actually happened. President Levin offered absolutely no concrete plan to alter financial aid. Instead, he simply shrugged off the students who were asking him to hear their stories, saying “I imagine that’s only 200 students or so.” He then walked out 40 minutes ahead of schedule, refusing to address any more questions.

Three-quarters of the article that accompanied that outrageous headline were devoted to Levin’s comments, and only a few short lines even mentioned student opinion. Your article also failed to mention the numerous times Levin was corrected about falsely representing Yale’s financial aid policy and the UOC and YCC platforms. This was despite the overwhelming dissatisfaction in the room.

I am not a member of the UOC, nor am I on financial aid. I am a concerned student who is deeply disappointed that you chose to depict the event in this manner, because it is simply factually inaccurate. It is insulting to everyone who attended the forum, and it is irresponsible to have given this fairy tale to the Yale community. Save your spin for the opinion page, and if you wish to call yourself a newspaper, please rebuke whoever was responsible for this unacceptable blunder.

Christopher Rhie ’07…

…I was dismayed to see the Yale Daily News so dramatically misrepresent the atmosphere of Tuesday night’s financial aid forum given by President Levin, which many students left feeling angry and as if they had not been listened to.

For Levin to call students’ personal stories of, to name a few, having to work 20 hours a week or of undergoing hormone therapy to earn money “private matters” was both misguided and untrue. It is not a private matter; it is an issue that must be talked about in terms of ensuring that the best and brightest can come here, no matter their background. Even if the amount of people who must work 15-20 hours a week is “only,” as Levin chose to word it yesterday, 200 students, that is 200 students too many. We must ask ourselves, are students able to take advantage of the same opportunities offered by Yale, regardless of their personal financial circumstances? The answer is clearly no. It was the utmost of condescension for Levin to suggest that we choose to ease either the burden on ourselves or our parents, when both measures are desperately needed.

During his brief appearance, Levin demonstrated a profound lack of understanding of the difficulties many Yale students face, which is as almost as disappointing as his lackluster commitment to opening a true dialogue with students on necessary financial aid reforms. He needs to put Yale’s money where his mouth is and not dangle it in front of us as an “either/or” proposition.

Christine Slaughter ’07

…As a student who attended Tuesday night’s open forum with President Levin, I was greatly disappointed with the News’ coverage. Absent from the article were the student testimonies about how Yale’s flawed system of calculating financial aid forces many students to work more than 20 hours per week. Absent from the article was the way in which President Levin matter-of-factly dismissed the hundreds of students who can barely meet their tuition requirements. Absent from the article was the way in which President Levin did not know basic facts about financial aid packages for a meeting he had months to prepare. In other words, the article failed to truly capture what happened at the meeting.

Tuesday night’s open forum came about through student demands for changes in Yale’s system for calculating financial aid. It is time that the administration recognizes that what it heard last night was proof of structural problems in its calculations for financial aid. As a leader in the academic world, Yale must go beyond “opportunity cost” analyses and do what it knows is right. As the administration prepares to make changes to its current system of financial aid, I hope it keeps in mind the message it tells all of its prospective students: Money should never prevent a student from choosing to come to Yale.

Christopher Oropeza ’05


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