Commentary

Let’s Talk About _______

After the publication of the State of the Academy, students were bombarded with statistics, each vying for the attention of the student body. The survey, however, missed a vital statistic: in the print copy of the issue, the raw numbers for socioeconomic status were never stated.

Our diversity is our strength: this is a mantra that has been instilled in the mind of every Andover student. But all too often, some kinds of diversity are given more attention than others. A few, like socioeconomic status, present challenging and uncomfortable conversations, so they are often brushed off for more digestible discussions. And at Andover, it is easy to erase and conceal our socioeconomic differences. However, this discounts the many students who are fully and partly on financial aid and could perhaps make them feel like their problems or perspectives cannot be voiced. 

Coming from a middle to upper class background myself, I didn’t know that I was very privileged until I have arrived in this school. It was only after discussing the issue with my peers that I realized students face socioeconomic struggles. My entire life, I have been to schools where everyone comes from the same socioeconomic background, and thus income has never been taken into question. Coming into this diverse community led me to question my privilege, but also consider the struggles that less privileged students face.

Right from their entry into the Andover community, students who come from lower-income backgrounds are disadvantaged. Students have had more privileged upbringings have had a bevy of tutors, private lessons, and sports clubs to enhance and improve their skillset. Many students, however, are only exposed to these opportunities when they first stepped foot on this campus, and thus are 14 years behind from their peers. Therefore, even in vying for recognition in competitive clubs, leadership positions, these students are put at a disadvantage.

There needs to be a better advertised safe space for students from a lower socioeconomic background. Socioeconomic issues need to be discussed more, in terms of helping these students and also understanding their situations. It is only with acknowledgement and understanding of each other’s problems that we can help level the playing field.

With such a diverse student body around us, it is crucial that we make an effort to understand and interact with all facets of our identity, no matter how uncomfortable. This exchange of ideas from diverse perspectives is what the Andover community encourages, for students to not only learn in classrooms, but also to learn from one another. The community is diverse, but in more ways than one might think. Diversity exists not only in relation to different races, religions, and genders, but in relation to socioeconomic backgrounds.

May 19, 2017