Why schools should have a Class Awareness Month

Stanford Class Awareness Week in 2012.
Stanford Class Awareness Week in 2012.

Columbia University’s Quest Scholars Network put a spin on November, dubbing it “Class Awareness Month.” Throughout the month of November and the end of October, Quest Scholars and various other campus organizations presented several events related to socioeconomic background on campus.

The conversations ranged from open conversations on the low-income student experience to discussions about social class in Africa. With a growing push to get low-income students to elite colleges, students have started to raise awareness about the barriers they face once at these colleges. Stanford University’s student group also dedicates a week to class issues in the spring. The more students talk about these issues, the more administrators will take notice of an invisible minority.

Poster from opening event of Columbia's Class Awareness Month.
Poster from opening event of Columbia’s Class Awareness Month.

Below is the listing of events for Columbia’s Class Awareness Month: 

Wednesday, November 19

Chican@ Caucus and FLIP present: A conversation about class awareness 

In solidarity with Columbia University Quest Scholars Network’s Class Awareness Month, join us this wednesday as we engage in a rich discussion about the challenges faced by Columbia University students from working class students. How can we support one another and how can Columbia University be more supportive of student needs? Our goal for the event is to expand on the ongoing conversations that have occurred throughout campus this month.

Monday, November 17

Health at Columbia University: Where does the system fail us?

Join FLIP (First-Generation Low-Income Partnership) as we talk about Columbia Health Services, Columbia Psychological Services and Furman Counseling Center, as well as the ways that administrations has and hasn’t addressed the issues of general and mental health on campus. We would like also to address sexual assault and violence on campus and the silence that resonates on behalf of our administration. How do students that identify as first-generation/low-income fit into these discussions and how are we excluded?

Monday, November 10

African Students Association Presents: Class Awareness with Questbridge Scholars Program 

Join us for this riveting discussion on social class in Africa. According to economists, one in three Africans are middle class and Africa has one of the fastest growing middle class in the world. Who are these 1/3 people and what does this mean? What standard is “middle class” evaluated on for this statistic and is that good or bad? Also, in light of the fact that Africa has one of the fastest growing middle class in the world, how can we make sense of the poverty which still thrives in many of the continent’s countries? Are these results of corruption, our governments, exploitation of African people? How does tribal affiliations or other social connections inform social class? Join us as we discuss various facets of social class in Africa. Hosted by African Students Association and Questbridge Scholars.

Wednesday, November 5th

Columbia University Democrats General Body Meeting: Class Awareness Circle-discussion

Thursday, November 6th

Class Allyship with Quest and CU Dems

Friday, November 7th

FLIP Meet and Greet

As first generation an/or low-income students, we do not always have the same connections to professionals as other students might. The purpose of the FLIP meet and greet is to allow students to meet and network with young alumni who are also FLIP or are allies of our mission.

Monday, October 27

Administration: What can be improved? 

Over the past few weeks, we have had some great conversations on how race, class and intergenerational issues affect the experience of many Columbia students. Not only is FLIP in the process of opening this forum for students to engage in, but we are looking to figure out exactly how these problems can be targeted to create a more sensitive environment. For this week’s general body meeting, we want to open the space up for students to come in and share their experiences specifically related to administration for this week’s general body meeting? What has your experience been dealing with Office of financial aid, dining, health services, center for student advising and counseling services amongst others? Come share your stories. We are in communication with different levels of administration and we will hopefully be able to convert potential concerns into important policy changes.

Saturday, October 25

The Quest to Class Awareness: An Open Mic Coffeehouse 

Join Columbia’s Quest Scholars Network and Creating Intercultural Resource Center Arts for coffee and deserts as we collaborate for dialogue, reflection, and entertainment on class at Columbia.

For more information about Columbia’s Class Awareness Month, check out their Facebook page.

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