Students gathered in Auditorium 320 on Oct. 28 to discuss financial aid issues and how the university is not holding true to its foundation of social justice and radical history. RISE members spoke about their #studentsfirst campaign, informing students about the financial aid situation and how students can get enact change.
The campaign started last year with a purpose to be student centered and bring back the essence in the mission of university.
“We needed to start a campaign to preserve what Roosevelt stands for, a place whose mission in 1945 was it would not discriminate against gender, religious affiliation, and more radically, against social economic status. Few places had that cause,” Gianna Chacon, co-coordinator and core team organizer of RISE said.
Financial aid issues with purging and scholarship central has made students question if the social economic status part of the mission has been upheld.
“During our first semester as an organization, we lost three first generation students of color to the purging process… People were talking about the fear about going to the financial aid office, because they weren’t sure if they were going to be able to continue to come here,” Chacon said.
Professors Erik Gellman and C. Leon Bailey gave a brief history of the university’s founding as well as how neoliberalism has affected the institution, and Roosevelt’s history.
RISE members discussed the plan to take the list of demands they have for university. Demands included a review process for purged students, a written down enrollment and disenrollment process, a set rather than estimated financial aid number and an appointed advisor.
“We are trying to talk to administration about these issues… individually a lot of people have had the same issue, but there is a lack of knowledge that this not a one or two person problem,” Mohena Kacer, core team student organizer of RISE, said.
Students were then given the opportunity to share their personal struggles with financial aid. Jessica Leon, senior hospitality major, attended the event to find out more information on the issues, shared her story.
“I didn’t win or lose a dime of my scholarship,” Leon said.
Leon received two scholarships through scholarship central, and then was told her Roosevelt grants were reduced by the same amount of the scholarships. Since the Torch article printed two weeks ago that featured Leon and her financial aid story, Leon won another scholarship and the FAO reduced her grant again.
“Why should students be stressing about this if it’s something that they were once told to apply for to get money? Now we’re over here trying to fight for our money, which they told us to get but are taking away from us in the end,” Leon said.
Leon said she was glad she attended this event and the #studentsfirst campaign is what the university needs.
“After sharing my story and listening to others, I felt empowered realizing I wasn’t going through this alone,” said Leon. “I felt that our Roosevelt community was coming together which is what needs to happen. I feel that all of our efforts will make something happen.”