Okay, I admit it, this is the last post I'm writing on this topic.
I admire Dean Huang a lot. In fact, I think he's one of the finest administrators we have or that I have ever encountered.
But I'm left scratching my head on this quotation from a story my friend, Kevin Burke CMC '11, wrote about the parking problem on campus and the efforts afoot to ban Claremont students -- sophomores and freshmen -- from parking on campus.
“When we banned freshman cars, we did not think that charging more in parking fees was an equitable way to deal with the problem. In such a system, the wealthy can buy something that others cannot,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Jeff Huang.I appreciate the sentiment -- I'm one of those poor students who doesn't have a car and one of those lazy ones that doesn't even have a driving license -- but Dean Huang should save the social justice arguments for an ethics or philosophy class. It's true that it's not fair that rich kids get more, but true cliche that it is, life is not fair. Rich people get an easier time getting into school; they graduate with less debt, etc., etc.
But there is a huge error in banning all freshmen or sophomores from parking (which, by the way, Pitzer has already done and CMC will likely do): rich kids have poor friends who often need the rides (or use the cars) that their richer friends own. I've been a beneficiary myself -- indirectly as I can't legally drive -- of this generosity, as have many of my poorer friends. Ignoring this generosity on the part of richer kids and the nice communal ties it fosters misses a lot in the analysis of the car debate. Indeed, there are some generosities from the richer students (and their families) to me here that I could never ever repay.
I have a modest proposal, then, for those well-meaning, but misguided egalitarians among us who worry about the equity and fairness at every turn: Charge more for freshmen (or sophomores or whoever) and then roll the money over into a scholarship fund for deserving students. It's not like the school makes that much money off of the parking permits -- USC, for instance, charges some $300 bucks per semester -- so why not harness that aforementioned generosity to a productive end?
Students who want to donate more money to the fund should be encouraged to, in much the same way they are encouraged to donate to the senior gift.