On Sunday night, Undergraduate Assembly members voted to support the Assembly of International Students’ efforts to increase financial aid for international students.
AIS will contact international alumni for donations to kick-start the process, AIS President and College senior Florentina Dragulescu said. She added that alumni from other countries may be more likely to provide aid for incoming international students.
Fewer than 25 percent of international students benefit from aid, while 66 percent of domestic students “receive some form of financial assistance,” said College senior and UA speaker Cynthia Ip, a former AIS secretary who helped author the resolution.
AIS hopes to ensure that Penn’s financial aid policy will eventually become “need blind” for international students, Dragulescu said. She stressed that the current system — which is “need aware” for all international students except those from Mexico and Canada — violates the University’s non-discrimination policy.
Four other Ivy League institutions — Harvard, Yale and Princeton universities and Dartmouth College — have need-blind admissions for international students. Penn is “less competitive” compared to other need-blind universities when it comes to attracting qualified applicants from abroad, Ip said.
UA President Tyler Ernst, a senior in Engineering and Wharton, said increasing financial aid for international students would increase the “socioeconomic diversity” within the Penn community.
“It would be great to have equal opportunity for all,” said UA Academic Affairs Director Abe Sutton, a sophomore in the College and Wharton.
UA members and representatives of minority groups also discussed following up on the University’s Diversity Action Plan — a plan to increase faculty diversity announced by Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vince Price this summer.
As part of the plan, each school must appoint a diversity officer who will have until the end of spring to develop measures to increase faculty diversity within the school.
Three of the 12 schools — the Veterinary School, the Annenberg School of Communication and the School of Nursing — have already appointed their diversity officers.
United Minorities Council Chairman and College junior Chris Cruz, who is also a UA member, said the UA and minority groups hope to work with diversity officers to create “sustainable” action plans.
“We’re going to try and focus on creating a system of accountability,” Sutton said, adding that the action plans may be reviewed every two years.
Ernst emphasized the importance of creating a formal “list” that schools may refer to when selecting faculty in the future. “It is very important for us to present a unified list of our suggestions,” he said.
UA representatives also discussed making changes to the Green Events Certification program, which allows student groups to certify their events as environmentally friendly.
The program presently has a “lordly sum of zero” groups registered, said Housing, Services and Facilities Director Sam Bieler, a senior in the College.
To increase that number, UA members suggested modifying the requirements and implementing a rewards system for groups that meet expectations.
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