Dear Leo (News Editor),
It is heartening to see The Phoenix join the national conversation focused on inclusion, access and diversity in higher education. Your article, “Tensions between recruitment and access in holistic admissions” (Feb. 11, 2016) offers valuable insights from Dean of Admissions Jim Bock, as well as interesting commentary from members of the Athletics staff. It is important to note the comments regarding the Swarthmore Summer Scholars Program reflect a limited understanding of the program and might be subject to misinterpretation by readers.
Summer 2015 was the first year of the Scholars Program, the result of two years spent designing and planning on the part of faculty from all three divisions of the College. The goal of the Swarthmore Summer Scholars Program is to facilitate academic success for students interested in STEM fields who are the first in their families to attend college, or come from historically underrepresented populations and/or under-resourced families. The Program introduces students, who have already secured admission to Swarthmore but who may have attended a low-performing high school, to college with an intense five week long academic experience that supports their transition to a new environment. Students develop relationships with faculty mentors as well as build important connections with their cohort. The Program encourages students to master necessary study and time management skills, and offers other academic support necessary for optimal academic performance at the collegiate level.
Students, faculty, administrators, and other readers of The Phoenix should understand S3P is a scholars program rather than a bridge program—the significance being that S3P is not designed to be remedial. The faculty working in the program and the Swarthmore students who organized to research and then request such a program as early as 2010 recognize students come to Swarthmore from different paths. Many first generation college students come from working class or working poor families and recognize their experiences as different rather than deficient. To be clear: all S3P students are fully qualified to be at Swarthmore. Equally important, neither the college nor anyone teaching in S3P would refer to the summer scholars as “underprivileged.” As a historian, I recognize such language to be both dated and inaccurate. I encourage you and your readers to read Natasha Rodriguez’s piece, “Who you calling underprivileged?”
I look forward as the campus community continues to engage in conversations about these important issues.
Dr. Allison Dorsey
View Rodriguez’s piece here: http://chronicle.com/article/Who-Are-You-Calling/146719/