Thursday, April 16, 2015

Columbia's Lower Class

"Low-income students at Columbia University post their plights on Facebook" by Akane Otani Bloomberg News  April 02, 2015

NEW YORK — A group of low-income Columbia University students launched a Facebook page last week that offered an unfiltered lesson on what it’s like to be poor and attending one of the nation’s most expensive schools.


Mandeep Singh, a senior and copresident of Columbia’s First-Generation Low-Income Partnership, the student group behind the page, says its purpose is to highlight the reality of life for students. The page is similar to other so-called confession pages that have become popular among college students in the last few years: pockets of Facebook on which students anonymously share everything from their hatred of dining hall food to struggles with depression.

While other college confession pages have typically invited a free-for-all, accepting submissions from all students, Columbia’s focuses on the experiences of low-income students and students who are the first in their family to attend college. The struggles this group faces, Singh says, aren’t well understood by administrators and wealthier students — the cost of attendance was $66,604 this academic year, according to the university.


The recent stream of Facebook revelations showed, however, that even with financial help, some members of the Ivy League school’s small group of poor students still felt isolated from other students. ‘‘Even though the university’s site boasts how diverse Columbia is, this institution wasn’t necessarily created for first generation students, low-income students, and people of color,’’ Singh says.

Several students said they have not always known where their next meal will come from: ‘‘Breaks when the dining halls are closed are really hard for me because I don’t have the extra money to buy food so I go hungry,’’ one student wrote. It breaks your heart these days. 

This nation is so goddamned lop$ided right now.... wait until the loans are due.

Another talked about feeling alienated from wealthier peers with a different perspective on money. ‘‘I was standing in the pasta line at Ferris, when I overheard two other first-year students behind me talk about how terrible the food at Columbia is,’’ one student wrote, referring to Ferris Booth Commons, one of the school’s dining halls. ‘‘I come from a low socioeconomic background, so the food I am used to eating usually comes from a box, a can or McDonalds, so I didn’t think Columbia’s food was bad. Then one of the two students says something along the lines of ‘This food is probably amazing for poor kids.’ ”

Oh, the student eats like I do (sans the Mickey-Ds, sorry).

A university spokesman declined to comment on the Facebook page. Other university officials said Columbia offers its students various forms of support...

The posts aren’t checked for authenticity, but a spokesman for the First-Generation Low-Income Partnership said almost all the people who recently visited the submissions page had used either on-campus Wi-Fi or a second New York-based network to do so. Toni Airaksinen, a freshman at Columbia sister school Barnard College who moderates the page, says she has received dozens of messages from students asking how they can help peers who need a meal or a place to crash.

I suppose the Bo$ton college slums are better than none at all.