Class Inequality and Seminar Breaks

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

We must admit we were somewhat surprised by some of the responses offered to our first column. Not the angry responses, mind you, since we imagined we might ruffle a few feathers by writing a column that complains about the way students here do journalism. Instead, what surprised us was the fact that some students who commented offered ideas for future columns they would like to see written. These ideas included such topics as the Clery Act, which governs the release of information related to assaults taking place on a college campus, as well as funding challenges faced by IC and BCC groups. We’re excited to hear these ideas, because by simply existing, they testify to something we’ve always believed: there are indeed issues worth discussing here at Swarthmore, and those issues relate to the empowerment of students.

We’d like to respond to some commenters who expressed hope that our column would provide some of the coverage that we identify as lacking in journalism here at Swarthmore. Indeed, it is our intention to do that, and future columns will treat specific student issues that we care about, and specifically issues that relate to funding and how student money is spent and distributed at Swarthmore. To us, these issues are not simply worth considering from the point of view of accountability and sound judgment in the distribution of funds, but demand consideration from a political perspective. Allow us to illustrate with an example.

From time to time, Student Council considers establishing a fund to provide money for students to provide refreshments at seminar breaks. Such a fund would conceivably allow students charged with “bringing seminar break” to present receipts from food stores and receive reimbursements from the College. This fund is a good idea: it’s a very small step to take to address manifestations of class inequality within student life.

Of course, some students can afford to spend the money to provide food for their seminar. But many factors have an effect on the price of providing food at seminar, including (but not limited to): the size of seminar, the time when seminar meets, and the precedent that has already been set by previous breaks. Those of us who have been in seminars know how central seminar break is to maintaining stamina and intellectual rigor for the duration of the class; it’s quite literally no joke. When all is said and done, it’s not difficult to spend a decent amount of money bringing food for seminar, and it’s impossible to do for less than twenty dollars (and that’s only if you’re planning on making something from scratch).

Swarthmore students already attend school here at considerable expense, and seminar breaks are a lurking expenditure that isn’t technically required, but can’t be avoided for students taking a seminar. A student already struggling financially with Swarthmore’s price tag can’t avoid spending for seminar breaks, and resorts to saving money in other ways. Naturally, the extent to which a student is capable of paying for seminar break has a lot to do with that students’ class background.

We should also consider that many seminars that ask students to bring food for breaks are honors seminars. Students currently attending Swarthmore probably do not identify the honors program with a sense of social and intellectual elitism, but at Swarthmore, that association is sadly a dominant feature of the not-so-distant past. We are lucky enough to attend a Swarthmore whose honors program has undergone significant democratization in terms of students’ access to its benefits, but we ought to remain vigilant in gutting from its structure and practice any vestiges of the exclusivity that was once the rule in Honors.

Inevitably, students will disagree with the idea of setting aside money to help pay for seminar breaks. While we cannot predict exactly what arguments will be used, we imagine people will feel that providing snacks in class is not the College’s or Student Council’s responsibility, or else that the fund is a nice idea, but is too easily abused, or won’t be taken advantage of. We imagine that these students are not the same students who have to ask themselves if they can really afford to bring snacks to class when it is their turn to do so. If this is the case, would it be fair to say that their class background has influenced their opinion on this Student Council policy matter?

We believe that it would be fair to come to this conclusion, since we form our opinions based on our past experiences. A student for whom providing seminar snacks poses no financial difficulty wouldn’t immediately recognize the need for a seminar break fund, or understand the way in which such a fund fits into a political vision shared by those students who would lay claim to Swarthmore’s politically progressive legacy. We need to question our idea of the typical Swarthmore student: currently, if we allow students to pay for their own seminar breaks, it is because we assume the typical Swarthmore student can afford to do so.

In many ways, it is a question of norms and normativity: what do we expect, consciously and unconsciously, of a “normal” Swarthmore student, and how do those expectations foster an atmosphere that excludes many students? To combat this exclusivity, we must develop the awareness for which we strive in our best moments as Swarthmore students: an awareness of the relevance of social injustice to our daily lives. This awareness ought to encompass an idea of social justice not as something to realize outside what some have called the “bubble”, but as something for which we must aggressively fight within our community.

We hope these examples better illustrate what we mean when we ask Swarthmore journalists to consider the political implications of the stories they write. We see something like the establishment of a seminar break fund as a political issue, since it engages with the ways in which social class—a politically charged concept—affects a student’s experience of attending Swarthmore. Seminar breaks are just one of the many insidious and often (at least to the privileged) hidden factors that reproduce the distinctions and divisions of capitalist society within the school. We could name many more, but like we’re trying to tell you, journalists, that’s your job now.


  1. 0
    Jack Keefe ( User Karma: 1 ) says:

    Soren, I'm afraid that's not precisely how the rating system for comments functions. Anyone visiting the site can rate comments up or down with the arrows at the top of each individual comment. Anonymous commenters without accounts have the lowest power, followed by anyone with a logged-on account, followed by staff/eds at the Gazette. Unless there's an editorial decision as a group to wholly remove a comment, there's no distinctly "editorial" action that takes place here. While it's within the realm of _possibility_ that a Gazette staffer or editor was the one to place the negative vote that hid your comment, it's just as likely (if not more, given the ratio of staffers-to-non-staffers visiting the site) that someone else or a group of people downgraded your comment enough for it to be hidden.

  2. 0
    Paula Dale says:

    I totally agree with R.
    If a student feels uncomfortable telling the professor that s/he doesn't have money for break, how about discussing it confidentially with the departmental Administrative Assistant? AAs can be incredibly creative and helpful, and they will know their department's budget for funding breaks.

  3. 0
    R says:

    The point of seminar breaks is to be fun. Really. It's not actually because we're hungry and need food. We could all go three hours without eating, and I'm sure we've all done it before.

    We just don't want to, because seminar breaks are fun. We like bringing them, we like competing with them (we do; people really like showing off their baking skills/'taste'). I remember distinctly that my professor mentioned reimbursements when we were signing up for break. I am totally, totally not in agreement with the sharples idea. And honestly, bringing chips is probably not an indication of class. I would predict that in the vast, vast majority of the time, it is because that person forgot to go buy seminar break, so they were forced to sprint to Essie Mae's 2 minutes before class to go pick whatever thing up that they could get.
    And I still don't judge that person, because I have totally been that person.

    Why should we get rid of seminar breaks (or make people 'bring their own' which is a TERRIBLY un-fun idea), or get really lame ones provided by sharples, just because people are afraid of the threat that someone might not be able to write a private e-mail to their professor saying that they would like to be reimbursed for seminar break? We don't even know whether or not they would have trouble writing an e-mail (I guess this is where the 'there should have been reporting in this article' part comes in).

    I know, I know, I'm privileged and perhaps a horrible person, blah, blah, but does this issue really have to ruin everyone's fun when it seems like there are already solutions anyway, provided by the department?

  4. 0
    Not good enough... says:

    Like Burke wrote, it's not the school's responsibility to pay for gourmet study breaks because people want to show off. Swat goes out of its way to be fair and provide everyone with equal opportunities. But are you actually suggesting the college pay for seminars to have gourmet food? Because that honestly just seems ridiculous. You can also distinguish someone's class through the clothing he wears, but does that mean Swat should finance buying expensive brands? When it comes to the escalation, it seems like there are three options: 1) either accept that some people are going to try to show everybody up, 2) have the professor set a monetary limit on break prices (much as you have for gift exchanges), or 3) simply stop seminar breaks altogether.
    Personally, I know there's no way in hell that I'm buying my seminar wine because I can't afford it, but if someone else wants to get me delicious food, I'm not complaining.

    Also, in response to your statement ("Why should some students A)have feel this pressure, B) have to spend money they don't have or C) spend way more time than everyone else in making the food"): A) there's only so much the administration can or should do in combating peer pressure; B) I believe others have pointed out how to get food for free or inexpensively, and that professors probably won't force you to spend money you don't have; and C) with work study, it's an institutionalized policy that Swat will help you financially but you have to put more effort into it than your more privileged peers. Besides, baking chocolate chip cookies is not especially difficult or time consuming. Do it with your friends and it might even be fun!

    I stand by my earlier point that class is important, but this particular issue isn't. If you don't have $20 to spare, I'm betting you have bigger concerns at Swat than seminar break. Maybe I'm wrong about this; maybe there's a large, silent minority of people who have serious difficulties under the current policy. But we haven't heard that perspective yet, so I'm disinclined to believe it's true.

  5. 0
    . says:

    If I recall correctly, some departments already have funds for breaks. In a socanth seminar, the professor payed us two pizzas on the last day and then was reimbursed.

  6. 0
    Louis says:

    I still think that funding seminar breaks is a relevant request. One of the major problems I have faced has to do with Burke's suggestion of cultural capital. What you bring for a break, the kinds of foods you deem appropriate for break are major indicators of class themselves. On a fundamental level, someone who thinks chips from Essie Mae's are satisfactory will be seen as really different as the students who bring gourmet food from 320 Market. It all goes back to how we we're raised, the foods that were available to us. Particularly if there is a standard for high quality, expensive seminar breaks, I have certainly felt a tremendous amount of pressure to match that kind of break. Why should some students A)have feel this pressure, B) have to spend money they don't have or C) spend way more time than everyone else in making the food for cheep? Seminar breaks are too closely tied to academics in general to consider them a personal problem, Student Council and the administration should really take it upon themselves to create funds for breaks. And, there needs to be some function to pay "petty cash" up front so students who otherwise couldn't afford this food in the first place aren't faced with another uncomfortable challenge.

  7. 0
    . says:

    This is so poorly analyzed you make class struggle seem like a joke. Why do people need nice seminar breaks constantly? I have never experienced this in my time at Swat or have heard of such cases being prevalent. Honestly, a bag of chips from Essie Mae's to calm the hunger for me is fine. What happened to baking cookies together, anyway? Focus on the real issues. The poster above me highlighted some good ideas, like the summer earnings portion of financial aid. Not all of us can find jobs that will make an extra 1000-2000 in three months.

  8. 0
    Not good enough... says:

    I'm interested in how many people this issue really affects. As several commenters have pointed out, a seminar break can cost significantly less than $20. I'm certainly not assuming that all Swatties have $10 to spare, but considering we all must face the cost of everyday living (laundry, shampoo, Pub Nite) it seems unlikely that there are a significant proportion of Swatties for whom spending a relatively small amount of money is an enormous problem.

    The lack of investigative journalism for which the writers previously insulted campus journalists has already been justly criticized. In the month it took to produce this column, the writers failed to "push[] the limits of what they can learn about the institutional workings of the college" in any way. But equally as annoying is the sanctimonious tone of the article, which implies that those who question the necessity of such a policy are privileged and lack some deeper understanding of social justice. Some legitimate points about efficacy were raised, even if I disagree with several. You can't dismiss them that easily. I am frequently aware of my class at Swat (although I can always find $20, so I suppose I don't "count"), but I don't think this is a significant issue. So your assumption bothers me quite a bit. If you're serious about investigative journalism – and your last sentence tells me you're not, but that you want someone else to do it for you – then you'll tell us how many people this effects, where the push for the change comes from (the disadvantaged students? or people who can afford break but think it might hypothetically be a problem?), and what policies are in place now for students who feel seminar break is a burden. Until you give us that, this column is basically just proving Peter right.

    My main issue is that class manifests in a lot of ways at Swat, but I don't think this is a significant one. To be sure, class is felt by many: in the sometimes prohibitive costs of traveling home at break; in the strain of buying textbooks, which can't always be avoided; in the expected summer earnings of the financial aid package, which mean you have to find a paid summer job instead of that incredible internship you wanted. You might as well write on the class oppression of having to pay for laundry or Pub Nite. It's almost ridiculous to talk about $20 when there are so many more significant ways class plays out at Swat. I personally would love to see an investigation of the summer earnings portion of financial aid, a much bigger issue.

  9. 0
    Take advantage of Sharples! says:

    Working with some of the ideas already expressed in the comments, here is a way to make seminar snacks for free (assuming you are on the meal plan):

    Chocolate chip cookies with stuff from Sharples:

    Chocolate chips from sundae bar,
    Butter from condiment bar
    Eggs asked for at the grill
    Sugar by the tea
    Flour asked for from the staff (sometimes they'll charge you points for dry ingredients like sugar and flour, but if you're nice enough you may get lucky)
    And baking power and utensils bummed off of those people on your hall who are always cooking (we all have them, and theyre usually nice!). In fact, the cooking enthusiasts may have some flour to give you too!

    Also, I don't know what luxurious study breaks the author has been attending, but I have never spent more than $10 on providing food for a study break–and that's only when I am too lazy to bake and just buy random crap. $20???? Really???

  10. 0
    Becky says:

    Here's another thought: Dining Services offers both pack-outs and catering services. Many students regularly have unused meals. Could a seminar band together, hand in some meal numbers (only a few students per week would need to give meal numbers), and order seminar break from Sharples?

    I realize that neither service is currently set up to accommodate this, but Dining Services has a good track record of being responsive to (reasonable) student requests, and they are capable of providing the right kind of food (cookies, brownies, cheese and crackers, veggies, etc.).

    I understand that non-Sharples food is more "exciting" and "festive", but if the purpose of seminar break is to keep everyone from getting hungry, and help everyone bond, then this would still do the trick. And while I think that the "seminar break fund" plan would also be a good idea, I could understand resistance on the grounds that it could be easily misused.

  11. 0
    5 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I think Tim Burke makes a valid point re Seth: "I don't think financial support from the college can really resolve the issue if it turns out it's about cultural capital, e.g., whether the person who just brings a bag of chips feels weird or pressured. In fact, then it's a classic misattribution, turning to the institution to provide funds when what you're really doing is mediating a subtle question about how we live and how we feel."

  12. 0
    Seth Green ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It's a good point, for sure guys, but I want to dispute just how expensive it is: a box of 12 donuts is big enough for pretty much any seminar, and you can pick it up at target for like $3. If you want wine, cheese, crackers, hummus, bread, cookies, milk, and apple juice (a spread I definitely saw last year), then sure, expenses rise. Also, if you have the time, what does it cost to make cookies from a mix, like $3?

    But one way to avoid this whole thing would be to have some kind of system to exchange coffee bar points for real money on a limited basis for seminar breaks. But then that might open up the floodgates of criticism of dining services, so I could see why the school wouldn't get behind the proposal.

  13. 0
    Jesse Hoff says:

    Seriously though, this was a very interesting column and a tough issue and I would love to see more of this column in the future.
    That being said, I have to contend that you are entirely too hostile to this hypothetical bourgeois reactionary and the real students that they represent. While acknowledging that you may face various counter arguments is nice, essentially fabricating one and then attacking it ad hominem is obnoxious. If you enter into a discussion and you feel that your counter party is being disingenuous or is missing a key point you may disabuse them of this but to do so preemptively as you have done is both lazy and too antagonistic.

    "A student for whom providing seminar snacks poses no financial difficulty wouldn’t immediately recognize the need for a seminar break fund, or understand the way in which such a fund fits into a political vision shared by those students who would lay claim to Swarthmore’s politically progressive legacy."

    Categorically wouldn't understand?

    Tim Burke is right; a real journalistic discussion would simply find one of these affluent idiot oppressers and ask them how they feel about such an issue. I'm sure you would find that campus is just as polarized and class insensitive as you imagine it to be.

  14. 0
    Jack Keefe ( User Karma: 1 ) says:

    Soren, I'm afraid that's not precisely how the rating system for comments functions. Anyone visiting the site can rate comments up or down with the arrows at the top of each individual comment. Anonymous commenters without accounts have the lowest power, followed by anyone with a logged-on account, followed by staff/eds at the Gazette. Unless there's an editorial decision as a group to wholly remove a comment, there's no distinctly "editorial" action that takes place here. While it's within the realm of _possibility_ that a Gazette staffer or editor was the one to place the negative vote that hid your comment, it's just as likely (if not more, given the ratio of staffers-to-non-staffers visiting the site) that someone else or a group of people downgraded your comment enough for it to be hidden.

  15. 0
    Soren Larson says:

    Re: Thought ––

    That account could easily be abused.

    Re: my previous comment being deemed irrelevant/offensive — although my comment is still accessible to those who want to read it, the editors certainly show their political biases by deeming my comment as such, especially given that another person not only referenced my comment but praised it.

    Solid you guys.

  16. 0
    Thought says:

    I have definitely provided a "nice" seminar break for less than $20, though I had to go to Genuardi's.

    Here's a thought: What if Swarthmore sets up an account at the Coop for seminar breaks, and any student in need can be given some type of "go ahead" code to buy a reasonable seminar break at the Co Op without actually having to front the money/ jump through hoops to get cash?

  17. 0
    Um ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    A lot of my seminars have split the duty of break between two students, and in those case, we've had no problem getting snacks in for less than $20 (so $10 each)– including "fancy cheeses." For example, my poli sci seminar usually bought a thing of brie cheese, crackers, some cookies, and drinks from Tarble.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I also recall some professors saying students could get funding from the department to bring in seminar breaks as well.

    I'd also like to echo the concerns of the shadow honors majors opposing funds for seminar breaks. I'm coming from a solidly middle-class background, and even I would definitely prefer not having to spend my own money on break. Who exactly are these students you claim oppose it? Have you talked to any of them? What about students who have trouble putting together funds to buy break? Have you talked to them? Journalism would be awesome if you could just throw down your own opinions and conjectures once every two weeks and call it groundbreaking, but that's not exactly how it works.

  18. 0
    Timothy Burke says:

    How big an issue is this, in terms of numbers of students affected, problem it poses for students, and most importantly, cost of trying to provide a 'snack safety net'? That's where some reporting would have helped. I don't think financial support from the college can really resolve the issue if it turns out it's about cultural capital, e.g., whether the person who just brings a bag of chips feels weird or pressured. In fact, then it's a classic misattribution, turning to the institution to provide funds when what you're really doing is mediating a subtle question about how we live and how we feel. That's why even in commentary, some kind of investigation helps, especially if you're going to suggest or demand specific or concrete action by others.

  19. 0
    mmm... says:

    this issue isn't exactly new, guys. And I would have liked to see some comments from people who *actually* opposed the school helping out with seminar breaks – as opposed to the phantom straw honors students you guys appear to be arguing against. Most people I know come from upper-middle-class backgrounds and would still support the school pitching in for seminar break. Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing both of you at the class awareness month events coming up…

  20. 0
    J says:

    'the precedent that has already been set by previous breaks': Yes, you can always choose to opt out of bringing break, or even bring something less costly, but I've witnessed more than one seminar have students escalate in the fanciness and expense of their break food and drink, and even if the other seminar students would claim that they wouldn't think any less of a student for not doing the same, there is tremendous pressure to do so. (Great column, guys.)

  21. 0
    my2c says:

    What's bad is when a precedent gets set that only snooty foods such as expensive cheeses are acceptable to bring for break. I'm not working class but I imagine that this makes it really unfair for people who would be happy to just bring a bag of chips and store-bought cookies (like a previous poster said) but feel embarrassed that they are bringing cheap junk food when everyone else has brought the fancy expensive stuff. Maybe if we could change the culture so that it's acceptable to provide cheaper breaks, that would attenuate some of the class issues. It's on the ppl who bring break the first few weeks to set the precedent.

    Myles' model is an ok compromise that's better than doing nothing, but it still puts the burden on the students to notify the prof that they are strapped financially, something that 1) many wouldn't be comfortable disclosing and 2) still sets them up as deviating from the established norm.

    I like Soren's first solution, but I think it would remove some of the community aspect of seminars. Let's not underestimate the value of breaking bread together. I recall I warmed up to a lot of my classmates over seminar break, something that would be harder if we were all digging into or own backpacks to get our own food during break.

    Soren's 2nd solution is ok too but I don't really see people being comfortable with telling their classmates that they want to opt out of bringing break and so everyone should just bring their own food next week.

    I really like the Prof Maur's solution, but I doubt faculty will want the burden of coming up with food every week (and they'll probably feel pressure to bring something different every week, which btw should not be necessary).

  22. 0
    Soren Larson says:

    Re: DJ on the entire student body financing snack breaks for only the third of students who choose to do honors.

    Although your point is certainly a legitimate one, it is coupled with every other inefficiency associated with Swarthmore's meritorious practice of creating access on a basis other than ability/willingness to pay. Tutoring comes to mind –– why should the departments be responsible for paying for student tutoring when only a small portion of students use the service. The argument parallel to yours in this case is that students who want a tutor should have to pay for it. We can also see how the student activities fee is unfair because some students choose to go to no parties at all — why should they have to pay for it.

    DJ's point actually falls on the right side of center: he wonders why people should have to pay for things that not everyone wants. But since Swarthmore is interested in granting universal access, it seems to me there are two solutions:

    1) if students really want snacks they should be personally responsible for them. Students who take seminars have enough experience liberating food from Sharples that this shouldn't be a problem. Also students can take exactly what they want, which is better.

    2) If we believe that one student should be responsible for providing snacks each week, then it should be an opt-in/out system. If a student doesn't want snacks or can't pay for them, then they should opt out of the responsibility, leaving students to pursue option 1 as I outlined above.

    This issue need not be solved top-down: we should just let students be individually responsible for bringing their own seminar snack breaks.

  23. 0
    Andrew '12 says:

    A bag of chips and store-bought cookies ($5?) were enough to last my FYS through three hours once. Maybe it's not the same for an honors seminar, but it's not like seminar break snacks have to take the place of a meal or something.

    But I'd like to mention that on the last day of the semester- when the students had to fill out course evaluations- our professor went all out and got the cheese and crackers, home-baked treats, Italian soda, chocolate, etc. It was great 😉

  24. 0
    Myles Louis Dakan says:

    I have had very positive experiences with professors dealing with this issue in the following way:

    1. The professor brings the first week of break.
    2. She or he asks any students who have a financial issue with providing break to say so in a private e-mail in the next few days.
    3. The professor either helps those students or decides that seminar break won't be part of that class.

    How do people feel about this model? Also, I have more than once provided break for less than $20 without baking.

  25. 0
    L says:

    As an addendum, the lack of a personal supply of kitchen utensils should also not be a significant factor. Many students are happy to lend out their pans and mixing bowls when asked (the asking part, though, is important).

  26. 0
    L says:

    I would like to dispute the $20 minimum figure given by the authors. By my estimate, it is entirely possible to get at least two seminar breaks out of $10-$15 by baking from scratch. Shortbread, for example, requires flour, sugar, butter, a pinch of salt (someone on your hall will have a giant container and be happy to share), and an optional orange. The most expensive ingredient in it is butter, which costs $3-$5 per pound (enough for two large batches). There are two steps: 1) Mix. 2) Bake. Bread (flour, water, salt, yeast, tutorial on the internet), pie (flour, butter, water, sugar, fruit), muffins, cake, certain cookies, biscuits, and a host of other foods require cheap ingredients (cheaper if you only need small quantities, like 1 lb of flour instead of 5 lb), no experience (there are tutorials on the internet) and little time.

  27. 0
    Rachel says:

    Lauren – if you propose far enough in advance to SAC (i.e. give SAC members time to submit approved proposals to SBC, and if SBC holds at least one session of office hours prior to your event), you can get a cash advance. Not to distract from the topic/the actual article, just trying to clarify that issue.

    And in response to DJ — I don't think we need to narrow this discussion to the honors program. I think any courses lasting three or more hours, particularly FYS, place the same emphasis on providing good food during breaks.

  28. 0
    DJ says:

    It is also the case that only 1/3 of the student body is a declared Honors major (obviously more than that take seminars, but it is definitely not the only path at Swarthmore), so any money that would go to such a fund from SAC or SBC would come out of resources that fund events open to the entire campus (typically a requirement for funding from those groups).

  29. 0
    Steve Maurer says:

    A little history here. When I was a student in the mid 60s, seminar breaks were *never* provided by students; they were always provided by the faculty member (or maybe the faculty member's spouse). At that time, most honors seminars were held in faculty member's houses, and I suppose it would seem strange to have students come to your house and not offer them food. I don't know when the tradition changed; perhaps when seminars stopped being at faculty houses. I honestly don't remember what the protocol was when I first returned as a faculty member in 1979. Anyway, maybe it would be a good idea to return to having faculty provide the snacks, or at least for the student government to suggest to the faculty (through COFP) that they discuss this. I am not sure what all my colleagues would think. While we all obviously have salaries, some of us are watching our pennies and many might not welcome a new expense they weren't told about when hired.

    Steve Maurer '67
    Chair, Math/Stat

  30. 0
    Lauren Stokes ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Yeah, the problem of reimbursement is a long-standing gripe at the school: SAC events also generally require someone to pay first, get reimbursed later, and people have periodically complained that it should be easier to get cash advances.

    I don't feel like doing the Google now but I know Student Council discussed it briefly, possibly my freshman year. Cash advances make it just that much easier for people to buy alcohol and blow off what they said they were going to buy, was basically the concern at the time. And is probably the concern now. Which is not to say that the policy shouldn't be instated, just that there's two sides to the story.

    I admire this column, guys, you're pointing out interesting things, I'm looking forward to more, but I'm still failing to grasp what journalists should be doing. In the news part of the paper, you have to get people–other people–to say things, on-the-record at that, before you can print them.

    I'd love to see a news story on the Clery Act or on IC/BCC funding, since I never managed to get useful interviews on the subject. But if you're criticizing journalists, then that's what I want to see: a NEWS STORY, with interviews (step one, and you will find that sometimes you spend weeks chasing someone down) and with a striving for some sort of objectivity, which means not publishing someone's gripes until you ask the other person to defend themselves (step two, and weeks become months, and a lot of "this isn't a story why do you want to talk to me please go away"), and telling a balanced story, not mounting a critique.

    You'll find it's a little bit harder than writing an opinions column.

  31. 0
    Argos says:

    You guys might have missed something. As helpful as reimbursement is, some people don't have any money to spend in the first place, even if they do get reimbursed for it. I'm an example of such a person.

    Actually, I had no idea this was something geared towards helping working class kids. I thought it was a weird upper class ritual in which you assume people have money and then pay them back.

    So yeah. If you want to take away the class divisions in that regard, you'd actually have to give people the actual money.

    I'm kind of curious as to who is writing this article and what kind of class privilege they experience. I don't want to make any assumptions here, but most attempts to give the working class a hand come from either
    A) crazy idealistic kids who read too much Marx
    B) rich kids who feel bad about not being oppressed enough

    Anyway, if you guys could refute my assumptions it would be an enlightening experience and Good Times would be had by all.

    Also come on, capitalism isn't that terrible. Chill out about the capitalist societies.

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