We Should Question the Term ‘Low-Income Student’

Aliza Weidenbaum, Oberlin resident

To the Editors:

Certainly, it makes sense to provide immediate money for student necessities — from travel tickets for international study to cash for Oberlin Winter Term groceries. Since no student can control the womb nor circumstances from which they come, let’s think twice before using the term “low-income students.” No student is three-fifths of a human being, as slaves were once considered. Let’s continue to reject the notion that children and young adults be classified by family financial status. Let’s continue to reject notions of financial segregation. Let’s not feed immoral ideas; let’s feed the language of equality and the language of human wholeness.

This moral principle should drive consideration of many proposals — including policy changes along these lines:

  1. Oberlin College and Conservatory return to financial-need-blind admissions, which it changed away from in the early 1990s.

  2. Make all international study programs equally available to all students, regardless of departmental major and regardless of financial costs.

  3. Make OSCA and other coops available to all, with no limited number of spaces.

  4. Make co-op-style housing and dining open not only to students, but also to faculty and staff.

  5. Prohibit the waste of any institutional resources, especially Campus Dining Services food that has not yet been taken by individuals.

  6. Make professional development and cross-training available and convenient for all employees.

This change in approach may be both refreshing and practical: Instead of expecting students to apply constantly for funds in one scholarship form or another, expect Oberlin College and Conservatory to be a place of equal belonging, in which people work with a common pot of resources.

Aliza Weidenbaum

Oberlin resident