Last week, the Socioeconomic Diversity Alliance (SDA), the student group for low-income and first-generation students at UChicago, hosted a talk by Kevin Jennings. Jennings founded the Harvard First Generation Alumni group and mentoring program. Bringing a wealth of knowledge as a first-generation student himself, Jennings led a dynamic discussion about what elite colleges can do for first-gen students. A few college administrators attended the talk as well, which shows interest at the institutional level. The Chicago Maroon, the student newspaper, wrote an article about the event for last week’s Friday edition.
For this week’s Tuesday edition of the Chicago Maroon, two articles were written about separate SDA efforts. One mentioned the launching of a first-generation mentoring program out of the Office of the Dean of Students. The mentoring program will match 1st year, first-generation students with local alumni who were first-generation students themselves. The article mentions the work of SDA focus groups being the inspiration for the development of the mentoring program.
Another article focuses on SDA’s desire to extend dining hall hours on Saturday nights. Currently, UChicago dining halls close on Saturday nights, which places a burden on some low-income students who may not be able to afford eating out. While it is not guaranteed that dining halls will open on Saturday nights in the future, the article indicates the exploration of other options. These options include the addition of more meal exchanges at local restaurants and expansion of dinners through residential houses.
It’s exciting for me to see the amount of news coverage SDA is getting because campus media attention signifies growing attention on the issues we are raising. It means that our group’s work is seen as important and SDA has been successful in turning a “niche” issue into a broader, institutional one.