Earlier this week, Dartmouth College, along with 15 other elite American universities, were sued for anti-competitive price fixing with respect to financial aid offers. A key argument of the plaintiffs in the class action rests on the fact that these universities may claim in name to be need-blind (or not taking into account a student’s ability to pay when weighing their case for admission) but are in fact need-aware. In some cases, they’re even openly need-aware for certain groups, among them international applicants. And so it seemed rather disingenuous to us that Dartmouth would announce a sweeping, “historic” new financial aid policy less than two full calendar days after staring down the barrel of this lawsuit.
It seems we were not alone with our skepticism. Enter Dartmouth’s PR spin. As The Dartmouth Senior Staff reports in a piece for America’s oldest college newspaper entitled “College announces need-blind admissions policy for international students,” “The announcement comes on the heels of a federal antitrust lawsuit accusing Dartmouth and 15 other colleges and universities of colluding on financial aid policies to artificially inflate the cost of attendance. College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in an emailed statement to The Dartmouth that the timing of the announcement is ‘unrelated to the lawsuit’ and that ‘plans for the announcement had been under discussion with the anonymous donor for a number of weeks.'”
Uh huh. “Unrelated to the lawsuit.” “Plans for the announcement had been under discussion with the anonymous donor for a number of weeks.” Because, it’s not at all possible, that Dartmouth had caught wind of the pending litigation? Come on, Dartmouth, we love you but this just smells super fishy. As Dartmouth’s Dr. Seuss would likely say, “One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.”
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