Ramapo Transfer Students Protest Scholarship Gap

A small group of students participated in what was called the "March for Recognition" last Thursday, Nov. 29 at 1 p.m. It was a peaceful protest aimed to get approval for more scholarships for transfer and continuing upperclassmen students in good academic standing.

The students involved performed a peaceful march around campus telling students about their cause, making stops at the Bursar and Financial Aid offices. It was organized by senior Caitlin Vogel, who was inspired in her classes to promote community on campus.

"One of my literature professors inspired me to create campus change as part of my CEC," Vogel said. "After speaking to many friends who were transfers, I learned they are not given the same consideration for scholarships compared to freshmen."

It was after her CEC assignment that Vogel decided to write a letter to President Mercer.

"I made sure the letter was professional and not in the least demanding, but it received no response," she said.

Later in the semester, Vogel received an assignment from her honors professor to do a community project that involved the campus community and challenged ethics.

"A protest immediately came to mind," she said, "a peaceful protest that advocated scholarship equality for transfer students."

Vogel then circulated a petition to support her cause, and she garnered student recognition almost immediately.

"In one afternoon, I gained over 80 signatures and I currently have over 150 supporters," Vogel said.

After her petition was signed, Vogel started promoting the March for Recognition on social networking sites and by word-of-mouth.

"Many students were highly supportive and thanked me for creating this event," she said. "Faculty members have also been very supportive of the movement, but with all protests, there are some with mixed emotions."

Vogel admitted that while many students supported her cause, only a few had the courage to walk through halls with her holding posters and informing students of the mission.

"I had a small group of five or six students march with me around the academic halls carrying posters with sayings such as 'Are Transfers Invisible? Then Why not Eligible for Scholarships?' It is important to keep in mind, the scholarships we want are those that transfer over semester to semester, awards only freshmen students obtain," Vogel said. "Along with visual aids, I designed my own March for Recognition T-shirt, wearing it proudly while the other students marched with signs."

Transfer students who felt they have been without voices expressed support even if they couldn't attend the march.

Kaitlyn Castner, a recent alumnus and former transfer student, wrote a thank-you note to Vogel stating, "It's about time someone stood up for upperclass/transfer students… Go you!"

Robert Andreson and Michael Lake participated in the March for Recognition, along with students who joined in the walk through the academic halls once they saw the students who were already participating. Andreson told Vogel that he was "willing to write another letter to President Mercer" as well. Vogel called it "another voice to support my own."

Vogel said she has received so much positive feedback about the protest that students who could not attend have requested that she organize another march, which may be in the works for next semester. All who support the cause are encouraged to take part in the protest efforts.

"It takes a lot of guts to protest and to march and I feel much more confident with a student support team," Vogel said. "After all, the point of this movement is to unify students and have our voices, collectively joined, heard."