One Holy Cross college grad writes …

Dear Ms. Tirella,

I agree with you wholeheartedly that the off-campus behavior of Holy Cross students can get out of control. It saddens me to hear about these things, especially the violence towards police officers and the disturbing of families, as it surely does to most members of the Holy Cross community. This is an issue that needs to be addressed by the college and stricter enforcement is needed.

Where this gets tricky, however, is that oftentimes these parties and gatherings are not done on Holy Cross property. Thus, they are out of the jurisdiction of the college. To solve this, there needs to be a cooperative relationship between the college, the community, and the government of Worcester. Insulting each other, claiming the other as incompetent, and other such negative behavior only lead to more resentment. If you had done some research prior to publishing your November 12th post, you would have known that Fr. McFarland was meeting with Worcester officials that very day. It looks like they are indeed heading towards stricter policies, even zero tolerance for underage drinking. [editor’s note: read HC statement to city if you want to see how dismissive Father McFarland was at first, that is before ALL the horrible HC “news”/publicity flooded Worcester County media – and beyond!]

You also take issue with Holy Cross and its lack of involvement with the PILOT program. Let me point you to a study that was done in 2004 regarding this issue. http://www.laurielee.org/pilot/worcester%20PILOT.pdf While productive in many ways, these programs are potentially dangerous and ineffective ways to pursue a new revenue stream. In the worst case scenarios, they hurt existing college outreach programs, and can be detrimental to college endowments, leading to less competitive colleges in Worcester.

Your criticism of the lack of financial aid from Holy Cross to the Worcester community is also unfounded. Yes, Clark does offer full tuition to high achieving Main South students and Holy Cross does not. On the surface, with just a cursory glance, this can seem like entitlement by the college. However, it is a much more complicated issue than you make it out to be.

I am someone who has spent my time after graduating working in higher education. Specifically, I have worked with low-income and first generation students through the college admissions process. In these under-performing and high-needs schools, there are large numbers of students who are more than qualified for college. On the other hand, I have seen many students get straight A’s in high school, but when they graduate they can’t formulate a written piece and lag behind their peers in math and science, as well. That many students are not prepared for a rigorous school like Holy Cross, does not shed a negative light on the school. Instead, it says much about the state of public education in our nation.

Holy Cross is one of the most demanding academic institutions in the country. It is often ranked in the higher echelons nationally in terms of the quality of education it offers and the demands it puts on its undergraduates. As a private institution, the sole responsibility of Holy Cross is to admit students that will succeed academically, regardless of where they went to high school. There are plenty of students from Worcester and other high-needs communities across the nation that attend the school. There is substantial financial aid available for students and many benefit from it. Just because there is not a specific program or name for the funds, does not mean they do not exist. Do most of the students from Holy Cross come from middle-class and upper middle-class backgrounds? Yes, they do. But that is more a symptom of a society and culture that has failed to provide equal access to education for all, not the ills of Holy Cross.

You say that we are entitled and you say that we are snobs. There are students at Holy Cross like this, just as there at every college in this country. They are a minority. Again, a little research will show you how much the students are involved in social justice and community outreach. Many are involved in SPUD, many volunteer, and many intern and work to better the standard of living in the community. Holy Cross is an institution that works very hard to instill a sense of solidarity in its students. When we graduate, we go on the serve in AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. We have students that go on to be politicians, doctors, teachers, and leading scientists. Not all students realize these values while still at the college. They are, after all, still kids and every one matures at a different rate. For the most part, the students of Holy Cross are hard-working, caring people, who really are concerned about their community. You make gross generalizations about the student population. Doing so is lazy and irresponsible on your part.

Sincerely,

Holy Cross [alumnus] ‘08

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