Although more than half of Dwight Hall’s Cabinet members voted for a financial aid reform resolution at a meeting Wednesday night, the resolution did not pass, as it failed to receive the required two-thirds majority.
The cabinet voted on the resolution titled “Yale Must Reform Its Financial Aid Policy” following a debate regarding the nature of the statement and Dwight Hall’s role in advocating for financial aid reform. The resolution, which proposed a reduction of at least 50 percent in the student contribution portion of the University’s financial aid packages, garnered a simple majority of 45 out of 79 votes but needed an additional eight votes to pass.
Dwight Hall’s Executive Committee required that a two-thirds majority of a quorum of member groups vote to pass the resolution in order to ensure that the diversity of Dwight Hall’s member groups would be represented in the passing of the resolutions, Dwight Hall co-coordinator Helena Herring ’07 said.
“When Dwight Hall decides to speak on something, it’s important that it be representative of its diverse member groups,” she said.
Yale Financial Aid Director Caesar Storlazzi said he welcomes student discussion of financial aid.
“I do think that it is important for a student to be fully engaged in his or her college financing and, as such, I do not think it inappropriate to expect a student to work during the year to help pay for Yale,” he said. “The concept of a financial ‘partnership’ along with need-based aid is the cornerstone of Yale’s financial aid philosophy.”
The resolution proposed by the ExComm may not have addressed the specific views of its member groups, ExComm member Carolynn Molleur-Hinteregger ’07 said. During the debate, several cabinet members raised concerns about the specific wording of the resolution and its focus on changing the student contribution portion of the financial aid package in order to allow students to spend more time volunteering through Dwight Hall. Some students said they would have preferred Dwight Hall to emphasize economic equality with regard to financial aid, while other cabinet members tried to address both sets of concerns by focusing on the broader message of the resolution.
Lauren Jacobson ’08, co-coordinator of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur, one of Dwight Hall’s member groups, spoke during the debate and characterized financial aid reform on campus as a social justice issue that fits into Dwight Hall’s history and mission. Marissa Levendis ’07, a member of Yale Peace, a group involved in counter-military recruitment in New Haven schools, said she would find it helpful to be able to tell the local teenagers from low-income families she works with that they have a financially viable alternative to joining the military.
“I truly believe that improved financial aid is a major part of recruiting low-income students to Yale,” she said. “Being able to promise students an equal opportunity to an equal experience is very important in making sure low-income students consider Yale a viable option.”
Wesley Greenblatt ’07, the coordinator of the local English-language tutoring group Bridges, spoke against the resolution and said he felt that it was not Dwight Hall’s place to speak on financial aid at this time, since changes to the policy have only recently been implemented. He said the organization risked alienating future volunteers by passing the resolution.
Last year, the University removed the expected family contribution for students from families earning less than $45,000 a year and decreased the family contribution for students from families earning $45,000 to $60,000.
Dwight Hall ExComm member and Public Relations Coordinator Justin Ash ’07 said that although no other cabinet meeting on the issue has been scheduled for this year, the debate has not closed indefinitely.
Ash is a former Production and Design Editor for the News.
Any further action taken by Dwight Hall as an umbrella organization may have to originate within the Cabinet, although member groups will continue to pursue their own agendas, co-coordinator Amy Wojnarwsky ’07 said.