September 17, 2021 | LIFE | By Mahoor Rehman | Photo by Sierra Romero
Discussions regarding equity and justice are always crucial for a well-intended ethical institution. However, these discussions are insufficient and lack integrity if the people at that institution do not understand their positions of privilege.
I think it is absolutely necessary for Colorado College students to identify and acknowledge how elite CC is as an institution. Equally important is to acknowledge the difference in social classes and backgrounds of people who come to CC every year.
When it comes to elite institutions, money becomes an important factor in guaranteeing the admissions of students who can afford to pay the tuition fees. In most cases, it is white students who are rich and benefit from this social standing. This fact cannot be overlooked or denied as it results in unconscious biases according to the capitalist system that we are forced to live in.
As much as we as individuals try to separate ourselves from conversations about money, due to the discomfort it may cause in our friend groups, money-related issues or conversations inevitably emerge in various situations.
I have found myself in many of these conversations, and have felt a sense of “otherness” because I am unable to relate to the economic status of most CC students. It sounds unreal to have the amount of financial privilege that CC students casually talk about. Whether it be renting lake houses or going on ski trips each weekend, the extent of the resources that many CC students have access to is mind-boggling at times.
This feeling of not belonging and being the “other” is felt by many groups of students admitted to CC who are not from similar backgrounds, are on scholarships, or have taken out some sort of loans to fund their education. Hence, conversations involving the mention of the amount of capital they already have are not just eye-opening for us but also very uncomfortable.
I think it is necessary for people to continue to practice the acknowledgment of their privilege on campus. Especially when the conversation revolves around race, gender, sexuality, social class, ethnicity, or nationality one has to be mindful of the people who are involved in these interactions. I have seen a trend of people constantly mentioning their weekend or Block Break plans which involve trips that exhibit their exceptional economic privilege. This can be inconsiderate at times even if you don’t have the intention of offending the other person.
While the college and student-led organizations try to make CC accessible for everyone, it is also an important action to normalize the fact that your social class is extremely vital in determining your positionality. Many students completely and wholeheartedly appreciate the emergency funds and mutual aid that assist students on campus with financial obligations. At the same time, I believe it is necessary to create more awareness about social class and the diversity of students currently enrolled in CC.
It is high time that students bring up points about economic inequality during normal daily-life conversations without feeling embarrassed. It won’t make you sound like a buzzkill; you’ll be addressing an important experience that regulates the way students exist and live their lives at a college like CC.