The Pacific Index

College Scorecard response

Sam Anderson

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In an interview with Sarah Phillips, you suggest the amount of low-income students at Pacific University has “real consequences,” because Pacific admits so many working-class students, the institution is suffering and students are not reaching their full potential in terms of standardized testing, graduation and median earnings.

This notion is innately problematic and rife with classist undertones. By measuring working-class students against upper middle-class standards of success, you are automatically setting them up for failure. Furthermore, it suggests a complete lack of cultural humility. As an institution, how are we supposed to serve working-class students and make sure their needs are met if those in a position of power cannot see through their own privilege?

As the proud product of a single mom and a student working multiple jobs to afford tuition, I can assure you that assumptions about working-class students capability for academic and long term success based on SAT scores and income has real consequences. The assumption that a student’s socioeconomic status is responsible for their performance on standardized testing and ultimately their capacity to finish college exhibits ignorance of academic disparities due to access and demeans hardworking students like myself that made it to this school despite obstacles.

Phillips is right that students from working-class families often do not have a “safety net” or “buffer” from these extraneous factors. However, this view of students blatantly expresses disinterest in their success and measures students from an inappropriate set of standards.

Perhaps instead of marginalizing working-class students by writing articles about how we are just not working hard enough to stay here and get an education, we ought to shift our attention to the lack of support for working-class students. How is it that the president of our university makes $700,000 a year, but numerous faculty members and students struggle to feed themselves?

This clear example of institutionalized oppression is far more than fulfillment of the “starving college student” archetype. I can assure you that allowing those in institutional power to continue condescending to working-class students has real consequences beyond abstract scorecard rankings.

If we are such a problem, I am sure the 84 percent of Pacific students receiving federal aid can happily take our money somewhere else.

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College Scorecard response