Not a Mills woman — at least, not yet

January 25, 2012

Dear Mills Community,

Am I a casualty of the recent budget cuts?  Or was I really not good enough for Mills College?

I am an unfortunate non-admitted student of the class of 2016.  I received the dreaded “Thanks, But No Thanks” small envelope in my recent mail.

To say I am disappointed would be an understatement.  I am use to disappointment and I am resilient.   There is no doubt that I am not the only thwarted rejected student.  However, I find it cathartic to write. So here it goes…

I was born profoundly physically disabled. Unable to walk, speak or care for myself independently.

I have learned to rely on technology to express myself and surrender to the care of others for my existence.

Education is my outlet and my salvation. I have never taken my access to education for granted.

Many hard fought hours were spent insuring I would receive an education equal to my ability and not my appearance.  I have excelled academically.  I have accolades from many educators.  The only blemish I have is a less than stellar showing in the SAT arena. The irony of standardize testing is not lost on me.

When I began looking at colleges, there were new obstacles to overcome.  I visited several campuses and then I found Mills.

The campus was flat, a plus.  Also, the climate was based on academics. There seems to be a shared commitment to social justice.  I fell in love with Mills!

I was treated to a tour by Kirby, met at length with Jess Miller and finished the day with Vala Burnett.

Not once did I detect skepticism in my ability to be a successful student at Mills.  Would I look like any other student at Mills? No.  Did it seem to matter to anyone? No.

I am an observer.  Being invisible in the world allows me to see everything.

Since I have few true conversations, I learn all I need from subtle nuances in peoples behaviors, speech and body language.  I know when I am being pitied, placated and pacified. I also know when I am being legitimately acknowledged.  To their credit, those I met that warm August morning at Mills gave me a great sense of possibility.

Shortly after I applied for admissions I learned of the college’s budgets cuts. I read the departments and personnel that were casualties of recent budget concerns and I knew I was in seeing my possibility dwindle.

Jess Miller had made introductions I needed to be successful at Mills before I had even exited the campus.  I arrived home to several emails from her and colleagues offering assistance with the transition from home to campus life. This assistance was being offered before I had applied, let alone admitted.  Imagine the wealth of support I was expecting if I became a student.

It appears that the cuts affect the most marginalized areas of the current and future student body.

Being in that category, I wonder if in light of the additional services that would be required for me to attend Mills, was I too much of a liability?  Was my aptitude for success at Mills measured on my merits or my deficits?  Was it too much to hope that I would be measured by my successes in the light of my deficits?

So it goes,  I will not be on campus next fall. I am not deterred.  I will apply again to Mills College and, potentially, again and again and again.  My hope is this illuminates the appearance that some admission decisions may not be based solely on the merits or achievements, but on other factors that slowly erode the fabric of diversity that defines Mills College.

Madison Hays
Prospective stuent

Not a Mills woman — at least, not yet was published on January 25, 2012 in Letters to the Editor, Opinions

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  • Rdorney

    Very well written and I appreciate your perspective.

  • S Ch

    This situation could be so discouraging, but I’m glad it wasn’t for you, Madison. Can’t wait to see you around!

  • Bnash39

    first and foremost i just wanted to say you rule. i admire your strength and your willingness to stand up for yourself by writing this article. second, i understand your frustrations to a certain extent and i know many other students do too. i have a diagnosed learning disability (which i know is a completely different disability than what you have). when i first toured at mills i sat with jess miller for an hour and she told me all about the different supports i would have at mills. i wouldn’t have chosen to go to mills if it weren’t for my conversation with her. i didn’t want to go anywhere that didn’t have good support for students with disabilities. when i started school at mills last semester i met with her every week and she helped me stay on track more than anyone else. then she got laid off right before finals. i ended up failing one of my classes and getting a C in a few other classes. i know i could have gotten much better grades if i had her support during finals. now i have transferred schools to a school for students with learning disabilities. i might still be at mills if jess miller hadn’t been fired. 

  • Anon

    The Campanil should have done their due diligence and contacted Admissions for a comment, even if it it’s that they can’t comment on personal student records. 

    There’s no evidence that her being denied admission was based on her disability, and this comes off as libelous. I know this is an opinion piece, but insinuating Mills College practices discrimination based on disability is a serious claim and should not be made without documentation and facts to back it up. 

  • boolala

    I believe that your struggle last semester may have been due more to a shock and grieving issue, rather than services. Kennedy Golden has done everything she can do for SSD folks, and has filled Jess’s role adequately. 

  • proud

    This young woman risks her dreams of attending Mills on this piece. Although I don’t know for sure, it appears to me she is describing her experience and impression. I don’t hear a malicious tone at all. Shame on you for doubting someone who was brave enough to risk it all.

  • Anon too

    When I applied to Mills, I did not think I would be accepted, but I was. So keep trying and talk to admissions about strategies for getting in. They should be able to help you. 

  • Anon

    I never said her tone was malicious. All of her assertions end as a question, so she herself doesn’t know the answer. Maybe we’ll never know, but if The Campanil really believes there is a chance that Mills College broke the law by discriminating against a potential student, they should have researched and reported on that, rather than just running this piece with those questions unanswered. 

    My point it is that there’s a difference publishing an opinion that the cuts will impact those students who need the most services, and an opinion that alleges that Mills College actively practiced discrimination (and therefore broke the law) because of budget cuts. 

  • B_lou18

    you obviously don’t comprehend the difference between a newspaper “article” and a “letter to the editor”. perhaps consult a dictionary before running to your keyboard.

  • boolala

    There is a HUGE amount of responsibility that individuals take on by running a newspaper. Fact-checking is one of them. Maybe you should check your facts, B_lou18. With the power of media comes the responsibility of working to find out what really happened. Also- I think that people should really be questioning whether or not it is fair to call out Mills on the slightest possibility that they discriminated against a student by not admitting her because she was “a liability.” The Campanil needs to run a follow-up piece about admissions practices at Mills, etc. I stand behind anon 100%.