Class and Credit

The always fabulous Michigan Radio folks recently did a great series called Culture and Class, much of which I was able to catch on the way to or from work. Most of the pieces were about much more than income, as class truly is.

One thing I am aware of this week is the relationship between the privilege that comes with class and credit.

When we were newly married and Aaron was still finishing undergrad, we were able to buy a house because even though we didn’t have money, we had credit. When we (predictably enough) got in over our heads and ran out of cash, we had credit (cards, or later home equity). And if the bank wouldn’t give us that credit and we needed it, a family member could co-sign for it, or I could get a loan from the “Bank of Dad,” as he calls it. My family never would have let me derail my education or long-term financial well-being, because they had the power to help me. The same  goes for most of my friends. We’ve all at times complained about being “poor,” but being poor means not having that safety net.

Being poor means you don’t have money.

You don’t have credit.

You don’t have family co-signers (because, hello, they’re poor too!).

You don’t have a Bank of Dad.

And (Christian) educational institutions should stop assuming everyone does. If you really want some diversity–of class among other things–you have to stop pretending everyone is coming from the same place. You have to consider what it would be like to walk into your institution without the privileges most of the students have. And if you realize, or they tell you, that this lack of privilege is holding them back from participating, you have to step up and fill the gap! That doesn’t mean you have to hand them everything, but you do have to give them a tool that fits in their hand. Yes, that is your responsibility. I see you have some lovely, plaque-adorned sculptures which certainly reduced someone’s tax liability–could you not be troubled to go ask those people to be someone’s last resort, or at least their stinking co-signer?

Sigh.

Pardon my rant. It’s not for me. It’s for the whatever percent.

OCCUPY [REDACTED] COLLEGE!

3 thoughts on “Class and Credit

  1. Thanks for tipping me off to the radio series. I listened to it and agree that it was excellent — just not long enough! Injustice based on class lurks in the most surprising places. At the Univ. of Washington Law School in the ’80s, students who interned for free at law firms could get course credit for their work, whereas financial aid students, for whom it was absolutely necessary to take paid internships, could not.

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