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Letter: Wilson alumnae are strong

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Dear Editor:

As a Chambersburg senior looking at college options, I chose Wilson because of the atmosphere, the majors and because I could have a pet in my room (Hey, a girl has to have priorities).

I knew very little about Wilson, and I’m sure many of you feel the same way, but I developed a love for the college. I would like to let you know some of what Wilson alumnae have done for Wilson in the past three months:

In 26 days, they raised $81,808 for the unrestricted fund at Wilson solely through word of mouth and the Pines and Maples website. In response, President Mistick sent a letter to Wilson alumnae stating that, “the effort did not even begin to address the financial needs of the College.”

Alumnae sponsored a Girl Scout cookie order so that every student could have her own box of cookies. February also saw the alumnae revival of the defunct Aunt Sarah program — where interested students are matched with an alumna who sends small gifts and notes. To date, 96 students have been partnered with an alumna.

Wilson supporters are using an Amazon fundraising program that earns a commission for purchases, at no expense to the buyer. The money goes directly to the Alumnae Student Outreach and Support Fund, established in February at the behest of alumnae. (www.tinyurl.com/wilsoncollege)

To date, we have unsuccessfully attempted to engage the administration in a discussion to explain its rush to the coed decision and other issues.

We have been told that Wilson’s decision to become coeducational is due to the college’s $31 million debt. The March 1 letter from President Mistick states that, “...in order to avert coeducation, the annual fund would need to raise an additional $5.7 million every year on top of the current $1.3 million goal that the College and our alumnae base struggle to generate annually.”

However, Mistick contradicted herself in a March 5 interview on WITF radio stating, “Thirty-one million dollars is not an unrealistic number... In the scope of things, that if you look at the size of the institution, our operational budget and our endowment, it is actually a pretty reasonable amount of debt.”

Alumnae also received a letter from Leslie Durgin, chair of the Commission on Shaping the Future of Wilson College dated March 15.

In that letter, Ms. Durgin accuses alumnae of “invent[ing] a different narrative” because we disagree about the data we have been given. This could not be further from the truth.

A negative picture has been painted of Wilson alumnae, who want nothing more than an honest response to the question of why the college chose so quickly to become coed without considering other avenues to alleviate its debt.

We are frustrated and disheartened by the process thus far, meanwhile we continue to support Wilson College to the best of our ability.

We would like to see all of the commission’s recommendations put into place, with the sole exception of the recommendation to go coed.

We would like to see the administration engage with the alumnae in a positive and respectful way, acknowledging us as a positive resource, rather than viewing us as an adversary.

We want Wilson to thrive because, as noted by Judge Keller in his historic decision more than 30 years ago, and paraphrasing Daniel Webster, Wilson is a small college, but there are those of us who love her.

Sharon Jaymes Falk

Allentown Class of ‘93

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