Dear friends and students and parents too,
Danny Taurasi was eighteen years old. He applied for the University of Notre Dame, an elite Catholic private college in South Bend, Indiana. The result, in spite of his best efforts and being the son of a ND alum, was rejection. The school would not accept a home boy from FLorida without verifying he came from elite blood, had been the number one in his class, or even more so, Valedictorian.
When I was that same age, I filled out college applications, mostly to Florida State, but ended up going to community college first. After two years of isolation and inability to do things, I stumbled into FSU’s school of music, wholly unable to socialize due to the piles and piles of homework, coupled with accommodations to uphold. The university was not doing its part to see that I could play music at my level, instead giving me basic pieces that would not go to recital level. Senior recitals would be required if I should make it, but I changed majors because nobody thought I could excel in music, which was bunk.
Today, it was found that 33 sets of parents, including CEO’s, a lawyer, and actresses and fashion designers forced their sons and daughters to attend elite schools, and moreover by cheating the system and getting away with it due to their wealth and color. This makes it that much harder for a blind student to excel in college. What can be done to ensure the playing field is level?
1. Don’t charge for applicants to fill out applications. Most definitely, that $50 for an application fee would have to be saved up or go to a family bill. $50 fees or more ensures that the wealthy get in first. They oftentimes have no concept of money, and $50 doesn’t seem to be a big deal.
2. Don’t put barriers in front of students who are black or biracial. By not charging application fees to begin with, the barriers will be thrown out. But it should start with K-12. Black students are more likely to face discipline in school due to color, which is unfair and puts barriers in front of joining clubs and going to college.
3. Don’t put downright impossible conditions on scholarships. The National Federation of the Blind, for instance, requires you to attend convention in order to receive college scholarships for college. Requiring NFB indoctrination in order to receive the much needed scholarships proves that only white blind people can receive such things. Oftentimes, colored/African American families can’t afford even a plane ticket if convention is held out of state. Asking for an essay is reasonable, but not for scholarships that don’t deal with English composition. Admissions essays should be simple, five paragraph, limited word count. This way, the brain is asked to think about what you are writing.
4. Do not ask about race on college applications. Let people find out for themselves. Race blind admissions may put a stop to wealthy white and Asian folks getting a leg up.
5. Play your choice of sport in front of the coaches. This applies to athletic scholarships applicants. If you’re a student that plays a sport, you should submit stats on your team’s sport such as volleyball and tennis. Let’s face it, you can submit transcripts from high school, but the sport stats will help coaches place you better, and then you should invite coaches to your games. If scouts see you play well, even better.
6. Do not use sight reading as a requirement for music auditions. For instrumental musicians, this is impossible if you’re blind and in 80% of cases, don’t know how to read music Braille. Braille takes time to process, and auditions should be limited, but to add Braille to the mix would make the playing field uneven.
There are many reasons elite schools should be worried. Notre Dame should be worried about its admissions process. Danny would have had a better chance if certain bits of information were not present and if they would allow Danny’s transcripts to go through with a 4.0 average or 3.5 at best. I graduated with honors from high school, but so many others have been rejected due to race, class, or disability.