The Bowdoin student body is disproportionately wealthy, with a fifth of students hailing from the top one percent of the income spectrum, according to a study by the Equality of Opportunity Project republished in the New York Times last week. The study indicates that socioeconomic diversity at Bowdoin remained largely the same between 1998 and 2009, and data published in the Orient this week shows that the percentage of students receiving financial aid between 2008 and 2015 has remained at roughly 45 percent, despite increased spending on aid.

The data shocked some of us, but others felt it matched their perception of Bowdoin. This discrepancy is important and shouldn’t be downplayed, as it demonstrates students’ varying levels of consciousness regarding wealth on campus. As students at Bowdoin, we spend surprisingly little time discussing class—both amongst ourselves and with administrators, faculty and staff—considering the dramatic impact that socioeconomic status has on every Bowdoin student’s experience, from buying textbooks to navigating social life.

There are also institutional questions that need to be addressed. Of critical importance among these are Bowdoin’s admissions policies relating to class and increases in the overall cost of Bowdoin.

Need-blind admissions are an improvement over need-based admissions but this 1990s policy is outdated and  there are other ways of improving our admissions practices. If Bowdoin is committed to educating a more socioeconomically diverse student body, there are enough qualified low-income applicants to allow for such change. In order to achieve that goal, the College would need to go beyond need-blind admissions, which is the most progressive admissions policy regarding socioeconomic class that we know of. By further developing an admissions system that actively seeks qualified low-income students, Bowdoin could distinguish itself as a leader on the issue of class equity in elite higher education.

Since 2008, there has been a 3.2 percent average year-to-year increase in comprehensive fee, accompanied by a 3.16 percent average year-to-year increase in average financial aid gift size. These roughly equal increases cancel each other out and keep the number of students receiving aid flat. If Bowdoin wants to substantially increase the socioeconomic diversity of the student body, it needs to either increase gift size faster than the comprehensive fee or stabilize the comprehensive fee. We acknowledge the efforts the College is making to investigate the budget, but the budget (and comprehensive fee) will almost certainly increase again this year. To achieve a more socioeconomically diverse campus, we encourage the community to focus on the budget and hold the College accountable to keeping the comprehensive fee stable or significantly increasing financial aid spending.

Class affects every student at Bowdoin, and we should more thoroughly investigate how it influences our experiences here. This goal requires efforts from students and administrators alike, working together to bring issues of class to the forefront of conversation and taking steps to ensure that the reality of the student body reflects the College’s goals regarding socioeconomic diversity.

This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of Julian Andrews, Harry DiPrinzio, Dakota Griffin, Meg Robbins and Joe Seibert.