Bowdoin College in Maine and Vassar College in upstate New York are roughly the same size. They compete for the same students. Both have long traditions of academic excellence. But one of those schools is trying hard to close the gap between rich and poor in American society—and paying a high price for its effort. The other is making that problem worse—and reaping rewards as a result.
“Food Fight,” the second of the three-part Revisionist History miniseries on opening up college to poor kids, focuses on a seemingly unlikely target: how the food each school serves in its cafeteria can improve or distort the educational system.
It would be nice to figure out a way to nudge some capitalistic tendencies into this system to help fix it–but what?
University of Michigan students Griffin St. Onge and Lauren Schandevel have published an online guide that anybody can edit called "Being Not Rich at UM." It's a Google Doc about navigating the costs of college that has grown to more than 80 pages.
The two juniors were inspired to create the guidebook after their student government published its own guide about "cost-effective" living at the university, which St. Onge, a first generation college student, found out-of-touch. Its suggestions included skipping weekly manicures and opting to do your own laundry instead of using a service.
"I didn't really realize the culture of Michigan before coming here," she says. "I had been warned about it a little bit, but I had never met the kind of wealth that some of the students have here by the time I came to university."
Schandevel and St. Onge decided to take matters into their own hands.
This is the first kind of financial aid that schools should be providing… It’s not that difficult and is a simple resource to open source and advertise widely. For first generation and low income students I imagine that it’s the type of resource that they should put into acceptance packages to improve their yields. In fact, honestly, it’s the type of resource that students of all income levels should be given to help make them better and more rounded students and people.