What should’ve been the job of the institutions fell to concerned peers and alumni. Harvard alum set up a form
to crowdsource housing and storage options for displaced students, and the same is happening at MIT
. Primus, the first generation low income student group on Harvard’s campus, created a guide for students
whose questions about housing, storage, commencement, and more weren’t being addressed by the college.
One student at Amherst told me they’d asked the financial aid office for housing assistance and was told to take out a loan, and turned instead to crowdfunding the money on Twitter. Another at Harvard faces homelessness
because of the school’s sudden closure.
With endowments in billions, I can’t see this as much else but a failure of these institutions.
As a first generation student looking on, this past week has been extremely disheartening. In a time of uncertainty and confusion, colleges have failed students like me. It’s hard to believe they’ve considered our well-being when the organization to help us isn’t in place when we need it the most.
When Northeastern announced that classes would move online, they made a point to say that campus life would resume as normal. I’d been following the stories from Harvard and others, and thought immediately of my work study. So I called student employment, and was told work study jobs wouldn’t be affected. A day later I learned all labs would be closed, and anyone who worked in them — like myself — wouldn’t be able to work. Despite this, I’m one of the best case scenarios.
This whole ordeal has revealed real fractures in the infrastructure of support that should exist for first generation and low income students. At best, this will be a wake up call to institutions that more thought needs to be put into serving vulnerable populations. At worst, it’ll lead to thousands of students slipping through the cracks.
Thanks for reading,