Andover’s Got Class

Class is not yet a thing of the past. Programs such as need-blind admissions enable students from diverse backgrounds to come to Andover. But unlike racial minority students who can turn to CAMD and its primarily race-focused constituents for support in the transition to a majority white culture, students coming from lower-middle and lower class economic backgrounds, also minorities at Andover, receive insufficient support from the institution. Their struggles can be just as strenuous as those faced by other minorities, but are widely ignored. The PACE program makes talking about race and sexuality seem like lunchtime conversation, but the issue of class still feels taboo. Would you be comfortable discussing your class background with a group of your peers? It’s time for Andover to adopt a similar attitude towards discussions of socioeconomic class and the privileges or disadvantages we are each born into. Class, particularly at this time in history, is just as divisive as race, if not more. Some may claim that PA is a community without class distinctions, but a closer look reveals that we are far from this ideal. Think of the little things: the tropical spring break vacations, the name brand clothes, the $80 take-out orders and pricey ventures downtown, things that some in the Andover community may take for granted. In addition, those coming from an “elite” upbringing have a huge leg up over those less fortunate. The upper classes have the resources to pursue deeper academic endeavors. There’s no denying that the transition to the elite Eastern culture of Andover is generally a lot easier for an Upper East Sider than for a lower class student from a rural community. When discussing labor unions in history class for example, it can be easy for an upper class student to blurt out that labor unions are horrible for the economy, but what if the kid sitting next to you comes from a family that depends on a labor union for benefits and protections? A diverse group of socioeconomic backgrounds can benefit a humanities discussion just as much as a racially diverse group, but if we want to reap those benefits we need to acknowledge the elephant in the room. No one denies that there are great benefits to having a diverse student body. But Andover needs to ensure that each minority group has the necessary support available. We need to start providing as much assistance for those of diverse socioeconomic class backgrounds as we do for those of diverse racial backgrounds, thereby addressing the fact that not everyone getting an elite education was raised in an elite community. We commend CAFÉ for their efforts to open discussion about class at Andover, and encourage all who are interested to attend their upcoming forum on class this Friday. This editorial represents the views of the Editorial Board CXXXII.