To address students’ growing concerns about mentorship assignments, residential issues, and nationwide Posse partnerships, President Lori S. White and members of the President’s Cabinet conducted a meeting with DePauw Posse Scholars on Feb. 12 at the Wallace-Stewart Commons Room of Hoover Hall. 

This follows a protest held by Posse Scholars last Feb. 8 outside the Board of Trustees Retreat at the Green Center of Performing Arts, where students raised concerns about the absence of Posse liaison Dr. Anthony Tillman during a previous meeting for the Posse Plus retreat. In May 2023, DePauw University also announced its discontinuation of the New York Posse partnership to recruit more students across Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri to broaden partnerships across the Midwest.

During the meeting, Posse Scholars were instructed to explain their respective concerns in individual groups led by Vice President for Student Affairs John Mark Day, Vice President for Communications and Strategy and Chief of Staff Sarah Steinkamp, Vice President for Institutional Equity Dionne Jackson, Vice President for Academic Affairs Dave Berque, and Vice President for Enrollment Management Mary Beth Petrie.

Samantha Rodriguez ‘25 addressed the inconsistency of certain Posse mentors, which required students to directly reach out to Posse headquarters about their complaints.

“Our Posse mentor [was] horrendous…our first meeting resulted in screaming and tears…[and] we did not meet again for four weeks under the instruction not to speak to each other,” Rodriguez said. “After two or three months, we reached directly out to the [local] Posse headquarters and also the national headquarters. We were told through them that we were bullying an old woman and that we were being insensitive to her needs…Eventually, [the mentor] told the Posse headquarters that she quit.”

Rodriguez added that some Posse mentors were not fully informed about the advising procedures behind the program. 

“I know that a professor has told me…that [the Posse mentor position] was advertised [to her as] more as a resume booster than as any form of support towards students,” Rodriguez said. She also suggested the idea of a nomination process for Posse mentors, to allow the selection of qualified individuals to support the Posse community.

Meanwhile, an anonymous Posse Scholar suggested the incorporation of a student liaison to the DePauw Posse program, following increased complaints about an alleged lack of guidance from the current Posse liaison, Dr. Anthony Tillman. 

“If [Dr.] Tillman and [Vice President] John Mark Day come together and figure out how to bring the student Posse liaison back and have that funding set aside, [that would help us] build that trust back for [Dr.] Tillman…what we can do is change the bond in which we have some people on this campus,” the anonymous student said. “So I'm going to ask if [the student liaison position] could be reinstated…this person was elected, it's supposed to be passed on. Nobody ever picked it back up.”

Dr. White encouraged Posse Scholars to facilitate further discussions about the selection of their preferred student liaison and to communicate with the administration about their decision.

Furthermore, when asked about the future of the New York Posse partnership, Dr. White said she does not envision the return of New York Posse scholars in the short term. However, she emphasized the recruitment of students across the Midwest to expand existing financial and academic resources. 

“If we can get more students from Indiana, that stretches the resources even further,” Dr. White said. “That means I could potentially double the number of students who look or triple that look like you all, while being able to utilize some of the resources that the state of Indiana generously gives to their students.”

Dr. White added that the administration is fully committed to their partnership with Posse Chicago, emphasizing it as one of the primary cohorts where the university directly recruits Posse Scholars.

However, Litzy Alba ‘26 voiced her concerns about the compromised diversity of students on campus based on the university’s updated recruitment locations.

“We all come from different places: different parts of New York [and] different parts of Chicago where we have different experiences in life…so constantly picking out people that are coming from the Midwest and only wanting to get people from Midwest is [selectively] picking who you want to come to DePauw,” Alba said.

Moreover, Posse Scholars pointed out the declining quality of various residence halls across campus, noting issues such as the lack of accessibility services, heating issues, additional payments for priority housing, disparities in the quality of Greek and independent housing, and inconsistent services from Facilities Management.

“When I was living in Longden last year, our bathrooms were flooded at least three times a week…we would file a facilities request…[and] a facility [member] would never come, and then we would all have to call the police,” Paige Puccerella ‘26 said. 

Dr. White responded by emphasizing how university housing is the main priority of the administration, in line with the 2027 Bold and Gold Strategic Plan. 

“We know we need a new residence hall. We have to figure out if it's going to be the first-year residence hall [or] the second-year residence hall [and] where it's going to go,” Dr. White said. She added that Dr. Day and Vice President for Finance and Administration Andrea Young will be the two vice presidents leading the planning process for new housing facilities.

Meanwhile, Christian Archer ‘25 pointed out the insufficiency of faculty members to sustain various academic departments. Students continued to identify Africana Studies, History Studies, Political Sciences, Humanities, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies as part of these affected disciplines.

On the other hand, Alberto Zamora ‘26 pointed out obstacles to fulfilling course requirements due to the difficulty of entering in-demand courses. “Language-wise, there's a lot of students who aren't able to complete their language requirement up until their junior or senior year,” he said. 

Following the discussion, Dr. White said that all issues raised by Posse Scholars will be discussed among members of the President’s Cabinet and the Board of Trustees in alignment with their incoming implementations for the 2027 Bold and Gold Strategic Plan.