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Columbia Spectator Staff

To the Editor: Last week, after declaring most concerns from Double Discovery Center students, Columbia undergraduates, and former staff members patently false and waxing romantic about a decades-old friendship with Kevin Matthews, members of the Board of Friends admonished staff for failing to bring matters to their attention. Unfortunately, trust in the Board was compromised about a year ago. Even if we assume all concerns presented in the Spectator last week to be false, one fact is not: In an age of unprecedented competitiveness in the nonprofit sector, a man who has earned only a bachelor's degree was selected to lead one of the most powerful and prestigious nonprofit organizations in the city. Leadership ability cannot be determined by degrees alone, but there is a much larger issue at stake—one indicative of a much greater concern in nonprofit educational services. Staffing an organization with individuals lacking sufficient evidence of academic achievement perpetuates the belief that students who cannot afford to pay for the best services available should be grateful for whatever services can be provided by whoever is willing to provide them. The reality is that students who can afford to pay for professional college counselors do not pay for individuals with limited academic credentials. A few months ago, an interim assistant director who served as my direct supervisor for a brief period of time incredulously asked me why someone with my educational background would take a job as a DDC counselor. It was, by far, one of the most painful experiences in my six years at the Center. Students striving to become the first in their families to attend college deserve well educated advisors. Staffing an organization with these individuals in no way complicates the equally important goal of creating a learning environment that is ethnically diverse, intellectually safe, and socially responsible. You can hire an executive director with a bachelor's degree, you can argue that a master's degree is unnecessary for an assistant director, you can even set the minimum requirement to be a counselor as a high school diploma—just know that, as DDC works toward closing the achievement gap, these choices will also unnecessarily reflect the continued disparities in opportunities and resources between students of privilege and their underserved counterparts. Choices in hiring send messages to students and staff alike. Believe what you will, dismiss that which you find unpleasant, but it is not a coincidence that every individual with an advanced degree chose to resign this year. Amber Moorer, Columbia College '08 Harvard University Graduate School of Education '09 DDC Volunteer '04-'08 DDSO President '07-'08 Sept. 27, 2010

Letters to the Editor Double Discovery Center DDC