I have read your article concerning Pacific University’s rank among other schools and I was rather perturbed by what was stated by Sarah Phillips: “Pacific has far more low-income students than most of the schools around us and that has real consequences.”
I am a low-income student at Pacific and I will be graduating this term. I have not only had significantly more stressors due to my economic status but I have dealt with those stressors all while maintaining a good GPA, working full time, going to school full time and completing volunteer work.
My financial status should not be looked upon as solely a negative thing. Low-income students are taught many beneficial lessons by going to school and work full time. We learn how to manage time efficiently, we learn how to interact with the world around us and how to apply our new knowledge to real situations. My economic position in life right now is preparing me to be a more informed individual with a better understanding of how the world works and how I can best create change for people who experience similar barriers that I do.
Perhaps instead of blaming students for situations that are beyond their control, Sarah Phillips should try to reduce barriers at Pacifi c that low-income and non-traditional students, like me, face on a daily basis and take into account the extra work that we do each day to maintain our good grades and to graduate.
The fact that she merely “believes” that low income students are the cause for Pacific’s retention rate and 6-year completion rate indicates this correlation may not even be factual and there could be other factors contributing to these statistics. This article is simply making assumptions based on biases and the consequences of that can be harmful to students who are striving and are working tirelessly to achieve a better future.
Ultimately, these comments made by Phillips lack cultural humility and understanding. I would expect someone in her position to be an example of how students should treat others who differ from themselves, not to be someone who judges and criticizes others based off biases and prejudices. By making these comments and assumptions, this article is telling low-income students they are a problem, they do not belong here and they are affecting Pacific’s reputation.
At a school that speaks so highly about diversity and the importance of having an inclusive, diverse environment I would not expect statements like these to be made so carelessly.