[Editorial] Mo Money, Mo Problems
by The Milton Measure on Friday, January 22nd, 2016
We’ve hit the homestretch now. As we end the last week of classes before second semester, our attention is focused either on the exams that mark the midpoint or on the four days of break that follow. It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago we were relaxing during winter break. The halls ring with the sounds of students’ discussing their awesome family trip to a tropical beach, the incredible (read: expensive) present they got for Christmas, the new car they will get as soon as they pass that elusive road test—everything, seemingly, that revolves around having money. We as a community have fallen into a rut of acknowledging differences in race and religion and gender and most everything but socioeconomic class. As the senior class readies for Senior Spring and the juniors worry about the beginning of the college process, we must not leave our attention to inequality behind; this time, though, we must focus on the socioeconomic differences between students, differences that often go ignored.
Milton prides itself on fostering a diverse student body. We are a multicultural and multiethnic school, one teeming with religions, heritages, beliefs, and opinions. Milton’s endowment and financial aid speak for themselves: we are also a school with diversity of socioeconomic class. 35% of Milton students are on financial aid, meaning that one in every three students you encounter will be on some form of financial aid. With such a clear difference in socioeconomic class, why do we assume that everyone has access to the same vacations, toys, and opportunities as everyone else?
One area where this lack of discussion clearly manifests itself is the technology omnipresent at Milton. Even with the multitude of computers provided on campus, students often prefer to bring their own laptops—if they own a laptop at all, that is—and lug it around campus all day. Teachers, too, have adapted to this conformity, incorporating laptops into the lesson plans. However, some students do not own laptops, but because most students go through their day without ever thinking about the true cost of a laptop, those who do not have a laptop must either buy a laptop at no small price or find some other way to compensate for their lack of a laptop. We should not take for granted just how many students have access to such a luxury. In doing so, we hurt those students who cannot necessarily make the laptop a feasible part of daily life.
Before we move into the second half of this year, let’s try to change our assumptions about our community being socioeconomically homogenous. So, the next time you ask someone about their March break, ask how it was, rather than where they went. The next time someone raves about passing their driving test, don’t jump on them for free Chipotle rides in their new car. Don’t treat anyone differently because of their socioeconomic class, if you can even categorize the average Milton student based on a few conversations, but make sure to take a moment out of your busy life and leave your assumptions at the door. Money doesn’t buy happiness or character, and no one is less for having more money or less. On the other hand, oversensitivity can also hurt our community, as students feel hamstrung by the bounds of political correctness, so don’t feel pushed not to talk about it at all. Let’s harness the activist spirit of the 2015 and make this lack of assumptions a priority for next semester.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=7587