Pearls & Cashmere at Smith College
Here are the more salient paragraphs, with emphasis added:
I read your article about [President] Carol [Christ]’s resignation … It mentioned the percentage increase in the population of women of color and foreign students. … As someone who has followed admissions for many years, I can tell you how the school is viewed by students in Westchester and Fairfield Counties. First, these counties are some of the wealthiest in the country. The children have parents who are highly educated and accomplished and have high household incomes. The children are programmed from day one to get into Ivy League schools.
To this demographic, Smith is a safety school. Also, very few of these students want to go to a single sex school. With the exception of Wellesley, it is not hard to get into the Seven Sisters any more. The reason why Wellesley is more selective is because it is smaller than Smith and in a better geographic location – Boston beats Northampton.
The people who are attending Smith these days are A) lesbians or B) international students who get financial aid or C) low-income women of color who are the first generation in their family to go to college and will go to any school that gives them enough money. Carol emphasizes that this is one of her goals, and so that’s why the school needs more money for scholarships or D) white heterosexual girls who can’t get into Ivy League schools.
Smith no longer looks at SATs because if it did, it would have to report them to U.S. News & World Report. Low-income black and Hispanic students generally have lower SATs than whites or Asians of any income bracket. This is an acknowledged fact because they don’t have access to expensive prep classes or private tutors. …
I can tell you that the days of white, wealthy, upper-class students from prep schools in cashmere coats and pearls who marry Amherst men are over. This is unfortunate because it is this demographic that puts their name on buildings, donates great art and subsidizes scholarships.
As you can imagine, the outrage over this letter is enormous:
- Read the comments on the letter at the Sophian (ETA 2/27: As of now, the letter is no longer on the Sophian site (apparently for bandwidth reasons). However, you can read it in its entirety on Jezebel.)
- Students have started a “Pearls & Cashmere” tumblr blog to show the ways that diversity strengthens Smith
- Facebook event to promote the above
- ETA 2/24: President Christ has written her own, strongly-worded letter in response
- ETA 2/27: The letter has also been covered in the Huffington Post.
- ETA 2/28: You can vote for CNN to cover the story here.
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