In the next few weeks, Occidental College will welcome an exceptional class consisting of 535 first-year students and 40 transfers as we celebrate the start of a new academic year.

These students will come to campus from 39 states and 25 countries; 14% are international or dual citizens, and 47% identify as domestic students of color. Additionally, nearly 14% will be the first in their family to attend college, and nearly 17% are Pell Grant eligible. Notably, these students come from varied ethnic, social, cultural and economic backgrounds and by many measures, this will be one of the most diverse classes at Occidental in recent history. 

With this in mind and in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action in college admission, I am writing to update you on the initial steps the College is taking to fulfill Occidental’s mission and continuing commitment to diversity and inclusion:

  • We will formalize our approach to legacy admission. Our alumni are extraordinary exemplars of what an Occidental education has to offer, and we value the abiding connection and community that comes from multi-generational attendance at Occidental. In the past, an applicant’s familial relationship to the College’s alumni could be considered as a factor in the admission decision if the student was otherwise a qualified applicant. Even when such relationships have been considered, they have had minimal impact on admission decisions. Still, to ensure we are removing any potential barriers to access and opportunity, Occidental will no longer ask applicants about alumni relationships as part of the application. Our holistic admission process will continue to carefully evaluate the whole student without regard to whether the student has an alumni connection. 

  • We will continue our commitment to meeting 100% of domestic students’ demonstrated financial need.

  • We will continue to promote our Cal Grant Promise program, introduced last year to increase affordability for low-and middle-income California residents.

  • We will strengthen and expand our partnerships with community-based organizations dedicated to college access.

  • We will broaden our outreach to Title I schools—those in which children from low-income families make up at least 40 percent of enrollment—and areas of the country where Occidental may be less well known.

  • We will increase our efforts to build our veteran community by recruiting veterans locally and across the country.

  • We will build upon our relationships with community college transfer centers, aiming to increase the number of community college students who apply and enroll at Occidental, ensuring we connect with students from different backgrounds and paths to college. 

  • We will expand our fall fly-in program, giving students who would not otherwise be able to visit campus an opportunity to do so. 

We will institute these efforts because we firmly believe that students learn best in an environment in which they can study, live and work among people whose life experiences differ from their own. We also know that employers increasingly need and value “employees who have been educated at universities with exposure to a broad array of life experiences and viewpoints, and who can bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the workplace,” as some major corporations argued in amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in the most recent cases on affirmative action.

Accordingly, Occidental remains steadfast in its commitment to providing students with a rigorously interdisciplinary and purposefully experiential education. We are resolute in preparing our graduates to lead lives of impact in the ever changing world that awaits them.

Thank you for your support in meeting this mission.

President Elam

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