Letter To The Editor

A call to work together

By Emi Ahlo April 30, 2020

Dear Rensselaer students,

I’m preparing to send a readmission application for the fall, and in light of current news and the lack of sympathy from RPI’s administration, I called my class dean, Katelyn Newsham. I wanted to know what would happen if part or all of the fall semester was online since the entire country still doesn’t know when it’ll be safe to reopen. Newsham said that while she doesn’t know what will happen for sure, there’s a chance that the same financial policies that have been applied to Arch students might apply to the entire student body should fall classes be online.

The financial aid reduction for the Arch is pretty substantial, and it’s a direct result of no longer needing to pay for housing and dining.  Note that the tuition itself didn’t change.  All of my friends who lived off-campus or in a greek house didn’t have a drastic decrease in financial aid. I’m not the first one to call out this inconsistency: when I asked about this at the last Student Senate meeting, the people who were at the meetings said they actually mentioned that, and as we know from their testimony, that wasn’t heard.  

To all of you who have been impacted by the financial aid decisions, I suggest the following: speak up in whatever way feels appropriate for your situation. Reach out to the Office of Financial Aid and explain your situation. If you have the time, share your story with The Polytechnic as well (leads@poly.rpi.edu). If you disagree with the administrators who believe our online classes are at the same quality of education as they are in person, don’t just submit a negative course evaluation, tell someone directly. Don't just accept that things suck, or assume that saying something will be futile. If you have the time to make memes about the school's decisions, you surely have the time to help make a positive change. 

When this public health crisis is over, I want to come back to school and see all of my friends, not just the ones who were better-equipped to handle the financial burdens we’re enduring. Whether this affects you or not, please say something. You will never know if your voice will be heard unless you try. We tried once, and now we try again, just like we're tackling a stubborn homework problem. We worked hard to get to this school, and a virus shouldn’t be what strips us of our hopes and dreams.

Best of luck to all of you,

Emi Pōmaikaʻi Ahlo