Minerva’s student government body – Associated Students of Minerva (ASM) – hosted elections two weeks ago. In light of the elections, one student from the class of 2020 who eventually ran for an ASM position posted in a collective Facebook page for all current students about privilege and financial inequity at Minerva. The post stated, “We live in 7 countries, but we constantly experience the same lifestyle, which is often not representative of real life in these places.” Immediately following, a second-year student published a related opinion article, stating, “Minerva is an institution of privilege. It attracts privilege, it nurtures privilege, and in many ways, it seeks to maintain privilege.”
The post and article argue that both the formal institutions of Minerva and informal student culture tend to exclude and ignore students who are less well off.
Informal student conversations on the issue have continued, while Minerva staff organized a meeting on March 12th, 2019 for an open conversation on the matter. This conversation will take place following the Finance and Student Service team’s recent announcement: “costs for tuition for the academic year are changing due to inflation and the increased cost of business in both the San Francisco and our global Minerva Cities.”
“We want to approach [the issue] in a systematic and comprehensive way to avoid several uncoordinated actions that are not comprehensive or effective in the long run.”
The Minerva website claims to offer “… tuition that is about a quarter of that of other top universities.” Its financial aid package consists of 300 hours of work-study per year, students loans, and scholarships. However, it is up to the students and their families to manage expenses for the annual family contribution, flights, visas, food, insurance, technology, books and supplies, and city transportation.
Teri Cannon, Chief Student Affairs, Operations, and Accreditation Officer, commented on the matter to The Quest “[The senior team is] very interested in understanding more deeply the challenges outlined, their outlying causes, and the effects on students.” She also reported, “We want to approach [the issue] in a systematic and comprehensive way to avoid several uncoordinated actions that are not comprehensive or effective in the long run.”
“We understand that the Senior Team would like to present as much information as possible about how financial aid is calculated but is worried that this knowledge is vulnerable to abuse. “
The newly elected ASM is working closely with the senior team, Cannon further mentioned, and ASM and members of the administration held a meeting to discuss the issues on March 1. The ASM team intends to assign a working group with one of the representatives to facilitate student input and achieve intended goals in the near future. They are working to release calculations for each student’s financial aid package and make them more transparent.
Francesca, an ASM representative for the class of 2020 elaborated at the ASM open office hours this past Wednesday, “We understand that the Senior Team would like to present as much information as possible about how financial aid is calculated but is worried that this knowledge is vulnerable to abuse. As such, the ASM is actively working with the administration to find a solution that is both transparent and secure for all parties involved.”
More updates to come as students meet this coming Tuesday, March 12, to discuss further institutional and informal changes.