“Save students like me” and “Save FFP” were the slogans blazoned across the shirts of about 30 demonstrators outside the Alumni Memorial Union yesterday around 12:30 p.m. The gathering was in protest of a recent administrative decision to end conditional admission to the university through the Freshman Frontier Program beginning in the fall 2013 – a change Provost John Pauly said is being made in the interest of admissions fairness.
The crowd consisted of students, alumni and other supporters of Marquette’s 42-year-old Freshman Frontier Program – formerly a five-week academic support program for selected entering freshmen who do not meet regular admission requirements but show potential for success at Marquette – some of whom were worried the change will strip the “heart and soul” from the program.
Next fall, Marquette will shift the pool of prospective FFP students to already admitted students and no longer offer conditional admission through the program.
In an email, Provost John Pauly said fairness played an important role in the decision to make the change.
“There have been and will continue to be many paths into Marquette; our normal admission pool welcomes a range of students with different abilities and backgrounds,” he said. “Students who believe they can succeed at Marquette will always have the chance to make that case in their applications.”
In a Dec. 4 email obtained by the Tribune, Pauly told a sophomore student that the shifting admissions pool at Marquette has contributed to the decision.
“At a time when our waiting list has expanded to include several hundred students, Marquette needs to insure that our admissions practices are fair and follow equivalent standards for all prospective students,” he wrote.
Pauly also said in the email that the program will still exist for students who need extra help in the future, though the altered structure is still being finalized and will emerge in the coming months.
On Tuesday, some students who passed through the FFP in recent years expressed disappointment, shock and anger at the decision, which some felt would have compromised their admission to Marquette despite their success once being admitted.
“Without FFP, I would be in Ghana (for college),” said Nana Oware-Asamoah, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences. “I wouldn’t be anywhere without FFP.”
Oware-Asamoah, a Chicago native, said her family would have opted to save money by sending her to college in the East African nation if Marquette had not accepted her through the program.
Kelsey Hau, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she was “devastated” at the news.
“I owe everything to FFP, and I feel this discredits our successes,” she said. “It’s like saying students like us don’t belong here in the future.”
Alumni joining the rally also shared disappointment regarding the change, including Marilynn Kelly Gardner, a 1984 FFP participant and a 1988 Marquette alum.
Gardner, now the CEO and president of Navy Pier in Chicago, said the FFP saw potential in her and provided her the opportunity to receive her education at Marquette. She said she wanted to see that same opportunity passed on to future Marquette students.
Several parents of FFP students also attended the rally, including Sheila Wright, whose daughter Julie is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences.
“(After hearing the change,) my first response was ‘why?’” Sheila Wright said. “I didn’t go to college, so this program would’ve been for people like me.”
Wright also said she believed the alterations to the program effectively changed the program entirely and that the name of the program only remained the same to keep the previous funding associated with the program.
Pauly did not directly comment on this idea, though he did say that the program will “keep its current resources and staffing, and … any donations that have been given to FFP in the past or will be given in the future will stay in FFP.”
He also said he sees value in the program as an academic-help program.
“The main contribution of FFP, from my perspective, has been the program’s attentiveness to the well-being and academic success of its students,” Pauly said. “My invitation to Mary Minson was to adapt the program to our current circumstances. I told her that I very much wanted her to lead that work.”
While it remains unclear whether students who have been admitted in the past through the FFP would have been admitted under the planned, altered program, Pauly said Minson, the program’s current director, would be in charge of the future direction of the FFP.
Minson did not respond to a request for comment on the future of the program as of press time.