The new government scholarship program which allows more than 10,000 low-income students to study in the best universities in the country, has not been well received by some of the wealthy students who published a series of hateful messages on social media.
In a flurry of messages which often began with “I have nothing against the scholarship students, but …,” the scholarship students were being referred to as ‘thugs’ by the perturbed paying students.
The offensive messages began circulating on social networks relating to underprivileged youth who have been admitted to Bogota universities such as Los Andes and La Sabana, until recently only affordable by the most wealthy in the country.
On a university confessions page where the students normally wrote anonymously about the boy or girl they had a crush on, many students began posting offensive and accusatory messages suggesting that the new influx of underprivileged youths had led to robberies and thuggish behavior on campus.
One anonymous message said “I do not want to be flippant in what I say, but since I entered college, I always had great confidence in the people who were around me. I would leave my suitcase with my IPad and my computer with the confidence that absolutely nothing would happen … Now it is not the same. Do not let anyone else enter this semester.”
Site administrators have claimed that they are sorry for the offense that may have been caused but they will not censor the social network pages.
One angry student said: “Do NOT allow La Sabana to become what Los Andes has turned into; full of riffraff. They are pulling the University down; the campus, resting places, buildings, halls and even the parking. You still have time to do something.”
One scholarship student stated that the discomfort felt by others for his arrival had been evident in the University. He said he even apologized to his classmates for inconveniencing them.
However, not all the private college students share this attitude. On the same social network page several expressed their dissatisfaction with the treatment of the scholarship students.
“I feel ashamed of so many derogatory, classless and inhuman comments. Those are the people who have not learned anything from the values that we try to instill in college. Shame,” said Sandra Forero, a student opposing the bigoted remarks by her fellow students.
Another student Juan Andres Mendez said: “The scholarship students are deserving of their abilities. Sadly, idiots whose daddies paid 9 million pesos ($3700) enrollment only serve to criticize and judge.”
Although some universities already had scholarship programs, they only benefited a total of 100 students each year. The program has seen this number increase to 600 scholarships each year for many universities.
Colombia’s new education policy was set the change the face of private universities across the country. With a budget of $65 million and the offer of more than 10,000 scholarships, the government hoped to encourage more disadvantaged students to attend higher education.
The aim of the policy was to offer young people from poor backgrounds the opportunity to succeed in higher education. Where in the past it may have seemed out of the question for even the brightest kids from these areas to attend a private university or college, this scholarship policy, which is based on a standardized exam, allows many of those who achieve good scores to go on to either private or public universities.
The government was aware that the policy would have great effects on the universities themselves who have not only had to cope with the new influx of students, but also had to create structures and systems dedicated to supporting all the students from diverse backgrounds.
Despite these initial issues, the Government hopes that by 2018 there will be 40,000 students receiving scholarships for higher education.
Becas a estudiantes ponen a prueba reconciliación en universidades (Reconciliacion Colombia)