Aidan Martinez, a sophomore at Wesleyan University, wrote a piece this week for the Wesleyan Argus about the campus climate for low-income and first-generation college students. He indicates the lack of administrative support for this population:
“…for too long, issues of low-income and first-generation (first-gen) students have been swept under the rug.”
He makes a call for action from both administrators and students:
“The burden of making Wes more inclusive should not be on the shoulders of first-gen/low-income students, but on the minds and the agendas of members of the administration. These issues need to be institutionalized so that we have a consistent effort to make everyone feel at home here at Wes.”
“I wrote this column to be a forum for first-gen/low-income students to share their stories (anonymously, too, if they so wish). It’s time that we start talking about things that make us uncomfortable, because you learn the most when you are uncomfortable. Come on, this is Wes; we should be ready for this.”
Aidan’s column is a good start for more action. The last major article about first-gen and low-income students at Wesleyan was in 2011 when some students were building a first-generation college student coalition (doesn’t seem to be active anymore, though). It’s no surprise that Aidan is a Quest Scholar. Many of the students on elite college campuses doing work around these issues are Quest Scholars (I was one myself!). The irony behind big scholarship programs is that many of the receiving schools don’t have proper support systems for these students. It’s up to the students to raise their voices to create resources.