Class, Money, and the Elite

Last year, the Brown Daily Herald published a series of articles about the modern “isms” at Brown titled: Money Matters. I don’t know how widely spread they were read, but it was a necessary conversation to be had at Brown. I find that there is a clear class divide between my friends, which dictate my words and actions in each situation. Sometimes I forget that not everyone fills out a FAFSA or receives Financial Aid, and also that there are some who have quietly hid out in an unheated, concrete room in Grad Center over winter break because their family can’t afford a plane ticket to fly them back home.

There’s a classism workshop during TWTP that I’m quite fond of. One of the activities that we do is a “Step in, Step out” circle. Everyone stands in a circle, the facilitators read out statements, and if it applies, you step in towards the circle and if not, you take a step back. I have seen kids take increasingly smaller, guilt-ridden steps towards the center — as they realize that not everyone grew up with a house full of books, had the opportunity to take a SAT prep class, and were raised with nannies or cooks in the family house. I have also seen kids on the other end — pushed up so far against the walls that they can’t take another step back. They’ve been homeless, never had a personal computer until college, worked to provide for the family, or all of the above.

You can’t tell by looking at a person, where they belong on the social ladder. Sure, there’s clues like the clothes they were, where they go for spring break, how often they eat out on Thayer — but most of the time, class is invisible. We forget that not everyone is the same socioeconomic class that we are; and Brown doesn’t actively work to remind us of these differences. Until now.

The Brown Daily Herald’s Money Matters Series

Part 1: How Diverse Are We?
Part 2: U.’s Financial Aid Lags Behind
Part 3: Let’s (Not) Talk About Class
Part 4: Looking Ahead From Inside the Ivy Gates

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