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Why Does Bucknell Have So Few Low-Income Students?

Bucknell was mentioned in the New York Times this week but not in a very flattering light. In the conversation around the Supreme Court decision striking down race-based affirmative action, the question of class has been raised again and again. This week the New York Times published its Student Access Ranking (just one week before the expected release of the infamous U.S. News and World Report), which offers an analysis of 250 colleges and universities by percentage of the student body who are Pell Grant recipients, their chosen proxy for class. The ranking is attached to the New York Times Magazine article “Why Does Duke Have So Few Low-Income Students?” With only 10% of students Pell Grant eligible, it turns that Bucknell too is among the least economically diverse colleges in the Times’ analysis. In 2017, the Times performed an analysis of economic diversity in terms of what percentage of students come from families in the top 1%, 5%, and 20%. Fully 73% of Bucknell’s student body hailed from families in the top quintile. In the last 5 years it would appear little has changed. There are lots of reasons and plenty more excuses that this new article addresses and dispels.

Most of us who work in higher education, whether faculty or staff, want to believe in the mission of our workplaces just like most people want to believe in education as a force for good, whether that’s social mobility or social cohesion, even when the evidence increasingly seems to point the other way. What can faculty and staff do? And how might AAUP Bucknell partner with Vice President Lisa Keegan to diversify the economic makeup of Bucknell students so we can continue to believe the this private university serves the public good?

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