N.Y. Posse Students Bereft of Mentees

Lianna Brown ’22, Associate News Editor

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First-year New York Posse Scholars at Dickinson don’t have incoming Posse students to mentor after the cancellation of Dickinson’s New York Posse program for the foreseeable future.

According to Ben Edwards, professor of earth sciences and the Walter E. Beach Chair in Sustainability Studies, as well as faculty mentor of the New York Posse program, part of the Posse tradition is a mentorship that exists between Posse classes.

“The on-campus scholars look forward to mentoring the next class of kids,” said Edwards, “and I am sure that my New York kids will help mentor the next incoming Los Angeles [class] but it is not quite the same.”

Dickinson announced in April 2018 that the college would no longer offer scholarships to Posse Foundation scholars from New York beginning in 2020.

“When I applied to the Posse program, I applied to Posse, not Dickinson,” said Aisha Rodriguez ’22 “so I was more excited about the Posse aspect of Dickinson and that’s the only way that I felt comfortable on this campus.” Rodriguez said that when her and other Posse members heard the news they were “devastated.” She said she wanted to transfer before coming to campus because she “didn’t feel supported, [and] I didn’t feel like there was a community for me.”

Rodriguez said she and her peers in the New York Posse 2018 group were not informed by Dickinson that the program would be ending before they arrived to campus. Rather, they saw Instagram posts from older Posse scholars which discussed the cancellation of the program.

“What I was really disappointed about was finding out through older Posse’s Instagram stories, and not from my Posse mentors,” said Himeno Yamane ’22.

“What we had heard, that the cutting of Posse New York was budget cuts, we heard that the diversity quota was filled for the east coast like they had too many students of color, but Posse isn’t a diversity scholarship, it is a leadership scholarship,” Rodriguez said. 

Before arriving on campus and after their acceptances to the Posse Foundation in November after a three-month, rigorous application and interview process, Posse scholars go through eight months of collegiate training to prepare them for life at college and transitioning from a large, urban area to a small, rural area. 

Students in the New York Posse group of 2018 said they are disappointed they will not have the opportunity to mentor and support future Posse students.

“As a senior mentor for the freshmen at my previous high school… I really enjoyed telling them my study strategies, regrets and even the classes that they should or should not take. I really enjoyed my time with the freshmen; I would have loved to do the same with the incoming New York Posse,” Yamane said. 

Pamela Ortiz ’22 recalls senior New York Posse members attending her high school graduation. 

“We were all really sad about [the cancellation of the program], because when we graduated, we had senior Posse members come celebrate with us and right after we were like ‘oh my gosh this is going to be us in four years, we are going to support our baby Posse at their graduation,’ and then when they told us no, it was pretty sad for us,” Ortiz said.

For Dickinson to remain a two-Posse school, they would have to find an alum to donate $10 million dollars to cover fees within one Posse group, Edwards said. “It’s certainly not a small gift.”

 “[I]t is just a matter of finding someone that…is motivated by the programs and the things it does and being able to connect them with Dickinson,” he said and explained that this would allow Dickinson to continue being the “strong partnership” it has been with Posse. 

That Posse 2018 is the last group, “definitely puts pressure on me,” Yamane said, “but… all that the Posse community can do is to come together and support one another because that’s what Posse is all about. Maybe one day, Dickinson will change their minds and un-pause Posse NY.”

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