Looking at the POSSE Foundation issue from another point of view

BY JACK PINSKY ’14
Contributing Writer

Hi there, I’m Jack Pinsky. You may know me as “that guy that tries to be funny with a microphone at Arts House Open Mic Night sometimes” or “that guy who takes running around on a broomstick way too seriously.” Glad to have the opportunity to introduce myself.

I’m writing in response to Kyle Lawrence’s article about the POSSE program. First of all, I don’t think his opinion was very thorough or complex. To summarize (and simplify) his opinion, Lawrence thinks since POSSE scholars have lower median scores on the SAT than the average F&M student, they should not be granted admission. However, I thought it was virtually a universally acknowledged truth that a student’s potential cannot be gauged by his or her performance on a pressure-filled, four-hour exam only covering math and English, including a pretty arbitrarily graded “essay” section (and I got a 2130!).

That being said, I am still against the College’s partnership with POSSE. Let me explain.

Lawrence was correct when he stated POSSE’s three mission statement goals. Those goals are:

“To expand the pool from which top colleges and universities can recruit outstanding young leaders from diverse backgrounds. To help these institutions build more interactive campus environments so that they can be more welcoming for people from all backgrounds. To ensure that POSSE Scholars persist in their academic studies and graduate, so they can take on leadership positions in the workforce.”

The mission statement is contradictory with POSSE’s actions. The POSSE Organization has locations in nine cities across the U.S. Although all cities are places that are vibrant with many cultures, some are always excluded. Specifically, the culture of students from rural or suburban areas will never be present in a city.

POSSE should not claim to expand the pool from which top colleges and universities can recruit outstanding young leaders from diverse backgrounds when they exclude the backgrounds of students who simply don’t live in a major urban city.

I appreciate the implied goal of POSSE to bring students who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to get a college education on campuses and receive educations; despite these good intentions, they are going about it the wrong way.

Students who achieve academically in high school and have high moral character, but still come from low-income backgrounds, should have organizations working to get them into high-quality colleges and universities. This shouldn’t be decided by where they are from but rather who they are. I think anyone can see the logic in that idea and thus, see the limitations POSSE has imposed upon itself by only accessing major U.S. cities.

A good alternative is the F&M Gray Scholars Program. The Gray Scholars are a group of students who receive financial aid based on need and come from all different backgrounds like rural towns or foreign countries. F&M should focus on developing a more comprehensive Gray Scholars program instead of partnering with organizations like POSSE. Then, the College could select the best students who need financial aid from around the world instead of just from New York City or Miami.

By developing its own internal program, the College would be able to more fairly and evenly determine who got into the aid program and would reduce the emphasis on the inner-city as opposed to overlooking the underserved in more rural areas.

To restate my response to Lawrence’s article: the SATs are not an adequate way to evaluate students for college admission and F&M shouldn’t discriminate against kids outside American urban areas. Instead, they should focus more on finding their own students through the Gray Scholars program without partnering with POSSE. That’s it. Hope to see you on the Quidditch pitch or at one of the Jesters’ comedy shows this semester.

Questions? Email Jack at jpinsky@fandm.edu.

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