• Louise Kennedy

    Louise Kennedy is BU Development & Alumni Relations associate director for editorial and new media content. She can be reached at lkenne@bu.edu. Profile

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There is 1 comment on BU’s Ninth Annual #Giving Tuesday Aims to Open Doors for Students

  1. I love seeing programs like this, and I think “Giving Tuesday” is a great event that encourages giving and helping others. It’s admirable that BU is highlighting these specific funds, as they seem to be really helpful tools to make education and learning opportunities more accessible for all students. Wealth inequality is a very prevalent issue at institutions of higher education such as BU, and I believe that programs such as the General Scholarship Fund and affordableBU are great ways to make BU more accessible from the start for prospective/incoming students. However, the reality of wealth inequality doesn’t change just by providing scholarships. Students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds often deal with financial struggles, especially during breaks when dining halls were previously closed. Furthermore, even beyond breaks, food insecurity is a large problem for many students, and I strongly believe that better systems should be put in place by BU to combat this issue. Although food banks can help, they are often not properly funded and do not help solve the large issue. Instead, national policy changes are needed that can assist students across the country. Allowing college students to be a part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and increasing Pell Grant scholarships are some examples of possible large-scale solutions. However, I will say that BU does a great job of providing a wide variety of nutritious foods in their cafeterias that allow students to be healthy as they engage in their academic and social lives.
    As much as economic support is important for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds (the minority in a wealthy community), a lot of the struggles they face go beyond issues that are stricly financial. Economic wealth is only a small part of what governs how a person interacts with their communities. Other factors such as social capital and cultural capital play a big part in whether or not a student feels comfortable here at BU. A wealthier student might have more social capital because of the connections they’ve been able to make through their wealthier communities that mirror a college community. Poorer students may also lack the cultural knowledge of the norms that regulate college life in a college setting; knowledge that middle- and upper-class students have learned at home and school their entire lives. These differences can create gaps between high-class and lower-class students, both in academic and social settings. School officials and the larger community must make an effort to understand that these differences exist, and to take action to help solve these differences that have been formed by wealth inequality. This is why it’s great that BU has created programs such as Alternate Service Breaks (ASB) and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) that provide students with service and learning opportunities that can be funded with scholarships. These opportunities allow students to engage with adults as peers and build connection with other students, all while gaining valuable experience.
    Although there is still a lot of work to be done, events such as Giving Tuesday and programs such as the ones mentioned in this article make me hopeful for the future of college institutions and communities like BU.

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