By Christina Shaman ’16 and William Gordon ’17
The recommendation to reallocate funds from Posse D.C. to need-based financial aid has been delayed two to three years, according to an email sent out by President Alison Byerly to Posse scholars at Lafayette College.
The decision to delay comes after two open-forums, held Wednesday and Thursday, on the recommendation. Students, faculty and administrators filled up Kirby 104 in both forums, which were highly emotional meetings for some students.
In the email, Byerly wrote that she was impressed by the leadership of Posse students at the forums and in her meeting with them last week. She continued to write that one point of discussion was the “broad-ranging impact that Posse has across campus when it comes to stimulating and negotiating difficult discussions about issues of race and privilege.”
“Your comments and testimony are what made the difference in this important discussion,” Byerly wrote.
“I really didn’t think that they were hearing what we were saying in the open meeting,” said Charles Evans ‘19, a member of Posse D.C. “I really thought that they were kind of doing damage control and that they were going to basically listen to what we were saying and then keep doing what they were doing.”
“But I was very relieved to know that the administration actually took what we were saying into account and made a decision based on that,” Evans added.
Byerly continued to write that a group is being assembled, led by Dean of the Faculty Robin Rinehart, to develop programs of “student support” at the college, which she hopes will make the college “more successful in fostering a diverse and inclusive community.”
“Such programs may in the future give us confidence in our ability to attract and support outstanding students like yourselves without relying as heavily on the Posse program,” Byerly added in the email. “However, everything we have heard from the community over the past two weeks suggests that that time has not yet come, and that it would be premature to accept the working group’s recommendation at this time.”
Another email will be sent out to the entire Lafayette community in the next few days about the decision to delay the working group’s recommendation to reallocate funds from Posse D.C., she wrote.
The email was sent out to Posse scholars at Lafayette the same day as the Posse Plus Retreat (PPR), in which Posse scholars bring another Lafayette student to a resort off campus to discuss social issues. Administrators and faculty members are also in attendance. This year’s theme is language and political correctness.
Evans said in a phone interview that the atmosphere on the bus to PPR is a collective relief that Posse will remain on campus in the near future.
“Everybody is excited. We are really pleased with ourselves and proud of ourselves,” said Evans, who added that the news will have an effect on the feeling of the retreat.
Angelina Mercedes ’16, a member of Posse New York, agreed.
“Now that we do have good news, I’m grateful for it because it’s not going to dominate a lot of our conversations at PPR,” she said in a phone interview from the bus to the retreat. “It will be one of the topics of discussion, but it won’t be the major topic of discussion and I’m really happy about that because now we’re able to enjoy PPR and really take it for what it is.”
Evans said that he appreciates President Byerly’s decision to keep Posse D.C. on campus but he is “definitely prepared for the future” when talks of phasing out Posse may resurface.
Byerly wrote in an email to The Lafayette that she appreciates the commitment of all those involved in discussions about the recommendation.
“I appreciate the commitment of students, faculty, and staff who have weighed in on this to what I know is our shared goal of providing a supportive and inclusive community for our students,” she wrote.