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Letter to the Editor: Social conscience at Northwestern deserves more class insight

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Recent Daily opinion articles and columns have focused on issues surrounding sexism and racism, including “Improving reporting about Native, Indigenous individuals”; “How being Korean American influences my conversations about sexism, masculinity”; “Adjusting to Northwestern, its lack of diversity as a black student”; and “NU World Cup logo’s combination of Japanese, South Korean flags was insensitive, misguided.” However, the only recent instance of a classism-related statement made in The Daily was an editorial published by The Editorial Board on April 3 in support of the District 65 school funding referendum. There, the authors pointed out the fact that 40 percent of the students in the district come from low-income families and have their educations and futures in jeopardy.

Classism is an issue that deserves more attention than it’s gotten, for the same reason that sexism and racism deserve attention. People are not just born with different skin colors and sexes, they are born into different social classes. Just as with race and gender, class differences do not simply dissolve through time. A single group of people can maintain economic power for hundreds of years. At Northwestern, all students may have access to courses and faculty, but the job search will favor those from wealthy families because of their connections, ability to pay for job-related activities and exposure to specific careers.

People from lower classes at Northwestern cannot have their own voice in the media because they are expected to work harder to realize their dreams. However, students with enough family connections can simply reach out to a friend who works at a firm or corporation and secure their position. This advantage is serious, unfair and acts also along the lines of race and gender. However, classism is usually left out of the picture when we talk about equal opportunity: We are living in a society that blatantly discriminates against those with less wealth or social connections with the so-called “upper class.” Therefore, classism deserves the same public attention that sexism and racism receive on campus because it can have similar impact on a person’s future. To deliver the same recognition to those who come from low-income households, we need to continue a dialogue on these pages, around campus and throughout the city.

The most important thing in tackling classism is to arouse public attention. In order to stop the public reluctance in acknowledging classism as a harmful social phenomenon, the media on campus should bring its spotlight to the individual struggles of students from lower-income social classes against inequalities in academia and the job market, and thus urge the University and the Northwestern community to reallocate more resources for these students to compensate for their economic disadvantage.

Jiayi Lu, Weinberg sophomore

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