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Image: Harvard First Generation Student Union Facebook Page.

The First Gen Movement

Over the past decade many elite colleges have taken great strides to admit low-income students, but there are unanticipated financial and cultural barriers to fitting in on campus that can’t easily be solved by merely giving students a foot in the door. Questions of class differences have spurred a nationwide movement of “first generation” student clubs on college campuses.

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in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Pay living wages for ALL work (and institue a jobs program)

File under: income, jobs

0 (0 votes)

From: Nicholas B., Chevy Chase, MD

First, the short term. We have very high levels of unemployment, which will put many more people into poverty or serious financial uncertainty. If we let the private sector take its time to recover, we may have unemployment this high for years; economic forecasts show very slow growth in the next two years. There is a demand gap. A stimulus by the government, that would hopefully be focused on jobs, would do a great deal over the short term to boost demand and bring unemployment back down to pre-crisis levels. That is a very doable fix to help fight poverty, here and now.

Over the long term, most people in poverty do work, but they are paid such menial wages. Wages for the working class over the last 30 years have stagnated, while inequality grows. I believe in a living wage for doing one's life work. An egregious example is a mother's work of rearing children, which goes unpaid. There are estimates that rearing a child is worth tens of thousands of dollars a year, but stay at home parents are paid nothing. Think of the contributions to society they make. Many single parents must also work paying jobs as well as raise children, and I believe in a country as wealthy as ours, we should be able to provide enough of a safety net to ensure financial stability for struggling families. Perhaps a more progressive taxation system would allow for a more robust social safety net.


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American RadioWorks |
Image: Harvard First Generation Student Union Facebook Page.

The First Gen Movement

Over the past decade many elite colleges have taken great strides to admit low-income students, but there are unanticipated financial and cultural barriers to fitting in on campus that can’t easily be solved by merely giving students a foot in the door. Questions of class differences have spurred a nationwide movement of “first generation” student clubs on college campuses.

Recent Posts

  • 04.15.15

    The Lost Children of Katrina

    In the year following Hurricane Katrina, 30 percent of displaced children were either not enrolled in school or not attending regularly. Today, Louisiana has the nation’s highest rate of young adults who are neither in school nor working. And researchers are starting to ask: could the widespread gaps in schooling after Katrina be the reason?
  • 04.08.15

    Saving a Women’s College from Closure

    Last month the board of Sweet Briar College announced that the school will shut its doors at the end of this term, due to financial difficulties. The announcement was made abruptly, sending the campus community into a state of shock... and then activism.
  • 04.01.15

    The Future of College

    Kevin Carey's book "The End of College" is stirring up debate in higher ed circles. This week, a response to the book by a critic.
  • 03.25.15

    The End of College or the University of Everywhere

    When education policy wonk Kevin Carey looks into the future, he sees the end of traditional colleges and universities and he says that's a good thing.