From The Atlantic:
Yale Alumni Magazine’s cover announced this month that the university “seeks smart students from poor families.” As the illustration of a white man in a business suit reaching past low-hanging fruit demonstrates, Yale believes “they’re out there—but hard to find.” I guess my alma mater feels fortunate to have found me–a native of East Flatbush, Brooklyn and the descendant of a housekeeper, doorman, drug addict, and prisoner. I completed a Master’s and Ph.D there in African American Studies and Political Science in 2002 and 2006, respectively.
The article the cover refers to, “Wanted: Smart Students from Poor Families,” argues that decision-makers at this school and others (including Amherst and Vassar) are sincere in their efforts to both recruit more low-income students and make them “feel more at home” once admitted. The piece inadvertently reveals how the privileged point of view of trustees, administrators, and wealthy alumni donors present serious obstacles to these intentions ever manifesting into reality. Since graduating from Yale, I have taught courses at Williams College and Northwestern, published articles, as well as given lectures and trainings related to the politics of structural inequality. Here are three reasons why I believe elite universities and colleges continue to fail to economically democratize their student bodies.