Letter to the Editor: On the importance of international students

I did pretty well academically in high school. I received high marks on my SAT, and I turned down a “top university” to attend Williams. But that didn’t stop the financial aid office from telling me international students were exempt from the school’s “need-blind” policy after I had made my decision to attend, despite having told me otherwise during the application process. (My parents had to take out an emergency loan; they quietly brought up whether I should take time off after my freshman year.) It certainly didn’t stop a fellow student from asking me during my sophomore year, to my face, what it was that students like myself contributed to Williams. (I smiled and changed the topic.)

While I greatly appreciate the generosity of David Kane ’88 to address students “like myself” in his absurd, misguided and quixotic op-ed “What Does It Mean to be the Best?” (Sept. 20, 2017), I would like to point out that the treatment of international students at the College does not end at, or even begin with, what percentage of the student body we make up. I would also like to point out that I believe that diversity, especially in an institution of higher education – and especially in one notorious for its long insularity – is often a virtue in and of itself, and by that measure what I contributed to Williams is very similar to what American under-represented minority students contribute to it. Under-represented minority students are not, unlike what Kane seems to suggest, the reason why there are few international students at Williams. Finally, I would like to point out that I am not some “model minority” Williams can put in orders for, and definitely not a clever little punchline that may give a semblance of sanity and balance to a thoroughly ridiculous proposal.

I never was the most vocal or active member of the Minority Coalition during my time at Williams, but if all those hours of having to sit through weekly meetings taught me anything, it was that solidarity exists primarily among minority students, not petty divisions or fictional rivalries.