Quest Scholars host discussion on socioeconomic issues at Northwestern


Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

Students discuss the role of socioeconomic status in Northwestern student life Wednesday at a forum held by Quest Scholars. The forum, prompted by the “NU Class Confessions” Tumblr, aimed to generate public conversation on issues posed by income inequality.

Annie McDonough, Reporter

The Northwestern chapter of Quest Scholars sponsored a forum Wednesday to discuss socioeconomic class issues, following the launch of the “NU Class Confessions” Tumblr during Winter Quarter.

The event provided attendees the opportunity to talk face-to-face about some of the issues addressed on the site, which allowed students to anonymously share their stories about socioeconomic diversity at NU.  

Former Quest social co-chair Erin Turner said the anonymous aspect of the website afforded students the ability to talk freely about their socio-economic backgrounds.

“Moving forward with the event and talking about these issues face-to-face is really difficult, but it’s important,” the SESP senior said.

NU Class Confessions had 255 responses within the first 24 hours, and has more than 550 now, Turner said. She attributes the amount of responses to students’ eagerness to talk about everyday dilemmas.

The forum was designed as a step to move the conversation forward and provide students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds the ability to share their stories and start to take action.

“These are things as simple as wanting to invite a friend out to eat, but not wanting to pressure them if they can’t afford it,” she said.

The event, held in Norris University Center, drew about 30 students who were split into small groups to share personal stories as well as discuss ideas about how the administration can be involved in helping low-income students.

“We’re now able to focus more on action-oriented conversations,” Turner said. “The discussion is now about the ways we can make campus more inclusive in everyday life and interactions.”

Students were asked to answer questions posted at the front of the room about the conversation sparked by NU Class Confessions. One response read, “Everyone has a story that deserves to be listened to.”

NU Class Confessions has seen posts from low-income students as well as students who identify as middle and upper-class who are eager to address issues of socio-economic class and listen to peers from backgrounds different from their own.

“It’s aimed at everyone,” Turner said. “We recognize that people from different backgrounds have different struggles and no one talks about it whatever it is.”

Quest Scholar Emerson Salmeron Rubio helped facilitate the small group discussions.

“I have felt uncomfortable in certain situations at Northwestern as a low-income student,” the Weinberg freshman said. “There are a lot of ways we can improve, but it will take a long time, and I wanted to be part of starting to move towards change.”

Attendees were urged to apply for a new advocacy committee being developed by Quest Scholars that will focus solely on working with the administration to take action.

Quest service chair Elvira Salgado said her small group identified problems that exist for many students on campus and offered ideas for changes that can be made.

“We talked about Greek life and the pressures that dues can place on students,” the Weinberg sophomore said. “One thought was greater transparency about where the dues go and creating more opportunities for students to pay their dues.”

Although the conversation only started to turn the discussion to action, Turner hopes Quest’s advocacy committee will appeal to all students who want to change the environment surrounding socio-economic diversity on campus.

“We hope low-income students as well as students of all backgrounds will join, and can focus on changes to make NU more inclusive,” she said.

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Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated Elvira Salgado’s title. The article has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily regrets the error.