Aaron Sibarium’s ’18 “Eliminate the swamp” contains serious errors masked by bloviations. His central argument — that student income contribution activists “are part of a self-defeating ideological program that sustains the very evils it decries” — attempts to insert a misplaced “Marxian” diagnosis into a debate that will only be resolved through clarity and sense (neither of which is achieved through the use of invented words like “kludgeocracy”). Small factual errors, (e.g., that the sliding scale for low income students begins at $65,000, not $50,000 and that Yale does not claim that it does “not expect students to take out loans”) reflect the same misunderstanding of specific financial aid policies shared by organizations he wishes to critique. I agree with Sibarium’s suggestion that middle-class aid should be expanded and that the money to do so may be found in reducing administration, but neither of these concerns is relevant to the failure of student income contribution activists. Their failure stems from the fact that almost everyone on campus fundamentally misunderstands what the student income contribution is. It’s not an extra cost added to our term bills that would suddenly go away if it were “eliminated”; it’s merely a suggested category of payment for pre-existing costs that can often be reduced in the actual bill through waivers or well-informed discussions with aid officers. Of course, only students who carefully compare their estimated financial aid statement with their actual bill would know this. Most anxieties about aid on campus would be eliminated through clearer rhetoric. We can’t fight corporatization without knowing how the machine works.
Leland Stange ’19