Home Education Low-income students should not donate their stories (opinion)

Low-income students should not donate their stories (opinion)

Low-income students should not donate their stories (opinion)

The topic gives the letters objectivity: “Message from the Dean of Financial Aid.”

Having received the letter for the first time, I opened it, assuming that my financial aid package had been updated. As the issue of affordability has always been a concern, emails about financial aid have raised concerns.

Fortunately, I was not greeted with an unforeseen update of financial aid. Rather, I was greeted with a request: “Together we form an incredibly diverse and talented community. I invite you to tell us about your trip to Brown today. ” My story would be shared with some donors and “members of my institution [its] a charitable community that seeks to support financial aid ”. According to the dean of financial aid, our stories were quite a stimulating force – to learn about the students ’travels – this is what“ inspires [donors] to support the incredible work being done in Brown. ” Over the following weeks, the dean for financial aid sent out an invitation several times.

Over time, the topics attached to emails become less and less ambiguous, such as “Request to Survey Student Scholarships”. Equally distinct was the feeling of deep discomfort I felt not only from the request but also from the persistence with which the administrators addressed it.

This sense of discomfort definitely reflects the feelings of Anthony Abraham Jack’s students The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Fail at Disadvantaged Students (Harvard University Press, 2019). The book reveals the struggle of low-income students in elite institutions.

The practice of applying to scholarship students is not inherently harmful. The institution’s attempt to personalize donor financial contributions in favor of the institution lends some degree of intent to remote action. But it is marginalization in that it imposes additional (silent) responsibilities on a small group of elite educational institutions and creates a transactional relationship between low-income students and their universities.

The practice of turning to fellow students inadvertently reduces the sense of belonging of low-income students. Having been asked to share my personal story, I couldn’t help but think about my position regarding students who didn’t receive the letter. Students who did not receive the email were not subjected to additional responsibilities or pressure to share their personal experiences with donors. Students who did not receive the letter were not reminded of their existence in their elite institution as an anomaly. Instead of minimizing the differences between low-income students and our peers, the institution through this practice embodies these differences, and with them our sense of alienation.

Among the factors that shape the consequences of this practice is time. In the absence of conversations around the stratification of elite campuses and the world behind them, receiving a scholarship request for a scholarship a month after you are in an elite institution sends an unpleasant message: once we talk to you about your class, it’s when we need something. This message ultimately concretizes the transactional relationship between low-income students and the institution at an early stage.

Establishing transactional relationships contradicts what should be the main goal of institutions wishing to accept low-income students as full members of the community: gain a deeper understanding of our daily lives and experiences. Our stories can provide valuable information that will allow administrators to support us in our transition to unexplored social terrain, but instead the institution appreciates the ability of our stories to persuade donors and contribute to the institution’s own interests. If scholarship survey requests are among the institution the earliest and several efforts to recognize class status, they will always have the effect of reinforcing feelings of alienation in low-income students.

Eliminating harm and preventing harm in the future should not involve eradicating this practice. Rather, the institution should be reconsidered goals practices. Instead of looking for information about the background of low-income students with the sole purpose of achieving the institution’s personal goals, elite universities should pay attention to personal stories to improve their understanding of students ’past environments and personal circumstances.

While this is a start, the act of finding our personal stories is not enough if we want to change the relationship of low-income students with the institution. The institution should use this information to enhance the experience of low-income students. In addition, administrators should regularly assess the needs of low-income students and consider where efforts are lacking. By genuinely interested in low-income students and our full introduction to this space, the institution can ensure that it is the attempt to create a unified community that prevails, not the legacy of exclusion.

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