Felicia Agrelius '17
College is supposed to be the great equalizer for lifting high-achieving students out of poverty and into the world of the upper class. Once we’re here on our generous financial aid (that everyone should be so jealous of…don’t you wish your parents couldn’t pay for their children’s education, too?) classism is presented as a problem that should no longer apply to us.
But that only works if you really believe that the green grass (unsustainable?), charming (appropriative?) architecture, cleaned-daily (by whom?) residence halls, and instantly available food actually create an oasis where we could all be free of the oppression and marginalization that exists “outside of the Claremont Bubble.”
Scripps students read about oppression and analyze how it impacts the world outside of Claremont, but when our institution is at fault change falls to the wayside. But we know Scripps is no utopia: LASPA director searches get restarted. Funds continue to be mismanaged although all we need is More. We have Indigenous and Native American studies courses and no department. There are startlingly few resources for disabled students.
Classism, too, is affecting the Scripps community in very real and immediate ways.
Classism affects me when I could not buy my textbooks online or on time because my book stipend did not come in the mail until classes had already started discussing the readings.
Classism affects me when the reimbursement system expects that I have money to spend for clubs and then am able to wait for the school to pay me back. Not everyone has money to spare, and club funds should be handed off proactively instead of retroactively.
Classism affects me when I go to work at one of my three jobs on campus. I am financially reliant on myself and need to pay for things like laundry and textbooks. My need to be very aware of how I spend the money I make is gloriously juxtaposed with the endless Claremont Cash refills that some students seem to get. Swiping an ID card instead of trading actual dollars seems to be a visual equalizer for the various classes. But not everyone has the same amount of Claremont Bubble dollars as everyone else. We should probably stop trivializing our money even though it seems kind of like Monopoly money. It is, after all, money that comes from somewhere, whether that’s your own paycheck or your family’s.
But I’m not writing this to criticize how people spend their money.
I’m writing this because it’s time to bring conversations about socioeconomic class to Scripps. The aggressions committed on our campus need to stop being ignored and unnoticed. We need to stop shouldering our financial statuses in silence and come together to make a safe and comfortable community for everyone.
These pleas are not just being written here then forgotten. The examples that I’ve written about are only a few ways that I have been directly impacted—this isn’t the Lower Class Experience at Scripps. In fact, I want to hear about how classism affects others on campus, and I want us to create an organization that mobilizes Scripps students to solve institutionalized marginalization, creates dialogue, and empowers the working class without tokenizing or trivializing our experiences.
February 26 at 6:30 p.m. in the SCORE living room is the first meeting of the new working-class advocacy group that will soon be officially recognized on campus. Join us in discussing its mission and structure. There is a Facebook group, Classy, that you can also join to receive updates on our progress. It’s a space where you can get involved by voicing concerns, ideas, or anything else. Contact me, Felicia Agrelius, for more information.
Currently, there are parts of Scripps that are damagingly classist and both students and the administration realize that it is a huge problem. There is no organization to address this, so we are creating one. We need to work together and with other student advocacy groups to empower each other on issues of class and its intersection with other forms of oppression.
Change is happening. Take part in it.
Editors note : A previous edition of this post, including the one published in our Feb. 17 edition, included a logo designed by Editor-in-Chief Aidan Harley '16 that contained a Jewish star. Aidan has been made aware of this, and has since removed the star from the logo. Aidan wishes to convey that no offense was meant by the inclusion of the star in the logo, and was an oversight on her part. She takes full responsibility and wishes to apologize to those who were offended.