Last year, I wrote a post about the “class confessions‘ movement on campuses across the country. The Facebook pages for anonymous confessions around socioeconomic class have since reached a new height of popularity. Since my post, at least eight new pages have been created at different schools.
This, of course, is not coincidental. It’s a result of a growing network of first-generation and/or low-income groups that increasingly share ideas about the work they are doing. In February 2015, the Ivy League and other elite schools gathered for a first-generation conference at Brown University. I was on a panel discussion with three other students to discuss our work on our campuses. Class Confessions came up in the conversations. I described how UChicago had been inspired by Stanford’s project to start the UChicago Class Confessions Facebook page in early 2013. Shortly after, we saw Northwestern start their Tumblr and Claremont Colleges start a Facebook page.
What was once a smaller movement that seemed to have spread based on a smaller network of students on social media has become even more powerful because of a gathering of students on a national scale. This forum allowed the class confessions idea to take off. I remember the Columbia University students being very interested in learning about how we had launched ours at UChicago. Shortly after the conference, Columbia launched theirs. Several others have followed suit. Here’s a list of all the class confessions pages I’ve found. Let’s keep having these important conversations.
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. Continue reading →
Recently, there have been several articles about Columbia University first-generation college students and the need for more institutional support.
Columbia University has some programs designed to help low-income and first-generation students, such as the Academic Success Programs, which include the Higher Education Opportunity Program and National Opportunity Program. These programs provide peer mentoring, tutoring help, and semester book allowances. Students have pointed out, though, that not all students that can benefit are selected to be a part of these programs.
Mandeep Singh, a Columbia senior, points out the gaps in resources at Columbia in the article “First and Foremost.”
“Columbia is great for having this super ethnic and racial diversity, but when you peel the layers back, that’s just a façade. Saying we’re ethnically diverse, it’s whatever. But when you look at the subpopulation of Columbia, this demographic of first-generation students that have huge overlap with each other, this demographic is hugely overlooked when it comes to our Columbia experience.”