Financial Aid department shows lack of understanding

First of all, I’d like to thank the Record for finally dealing with issues that should have been dealt with earlier. Once I noticed that my parents were worrying about my tuition last December, I wrote an e-mail to Philip Wick, the Director of Financial Aid. I assumed that the Financial Aid Department and other administrative organizations had already discussed this serious problem and arrived at, if not a permanent, then at least a temporary solution to the problem. My letter was sent on Dec. 13, 1997.

In the letter, I tried to explain the seriousness of the economic situation in Korea, the radical depreciation of the “won,” and how my family was influenced by this crisis.

I also included my sister’s phone number in New York and my address and phone number in Korea, hoping to get a timely reply. But on Jan. 6, seeing as how no response was coming, I sent a followup letter concerning the increasing seriousness of the situation and the need for a hasty resolution. Attached with it was the previous e-mail with my sister’s phone number and other relevant information.

On Jan. 8, I received an e-mail response from Mr. Wick beginning with these words: “Dear Sung, My apologies for not answering your earlier letter. I thought I had done so, but apparently not…”

The surprising and annoying element of the reply was the apparent carelessness with which this problem was treated. A crisis of this magnitude, covered daily in every major newspaper, should probably be reacted to by all those with the ability and responsibility to help. This made me wonder about my position at this college. Did I reach the wrong department? Did I ask an inappropriate question? Or am I not a Williams student?

If this serious crisis affecting the international students at this college had been dealt with in an appropriate and timely manner by the whole administration, or at the very least the Financial Aid Department, no e-mail expressing a need for assistance with the situation could have just been forgotten about. After all, what other function does the administration serve except to help us have a good educational experience and help us deal with circumstances beyond our control? Is the administration so incompetent that they might overlook this crisis, one which impacts a significant number of students at this school? Or is it just the international students that don’t matter enough to at least have a meeting about the situation? Or has Mr. Wick just taken a disliking to me?

The whole situation is utterly absurd. I’m not so much angry at the school because they failed in my particular situation. I’m sad because my experience has led me to believe that the administration considers least what it should consider most — the students.

On all levels, the departments that are supposed to be helpful are ignorant or appear indifferent to the problem. The Financial Aid Department, after finally considering the plight of the 4 to 6 students (they can’t even get the number to be exact), responded with “Sorry, we can’t give you financial aid, but we hope your Winter Study goes as planned.” The International Student Advisor does not know how many students are impacted by the crisis and is waiting for students to come and talk about it.

At least the admissions office was “nice” enough to waive the application fee for new students. The answers that the administration give may be politically correct, but to me, their stance is morally wrong.

SungHwan Kim ‘00

Letters continued on page 4