Introducing the new Columbia University Class Confessions page: part traditional confessions page, part shocking exposé of class inequality and the darker side of the Ivy League. The page was created by members of First-Generation Low-Income Partnership (FLIP), an organization addressing issues faced by first generation and low income students on campus.
According to their website, the confessions page was modeled after similar pages at Stanford and the University of Chicago, with the goal of “helping to illuminate the issues that students face related to their socioeconomic status, and first-generation/low-income identity.”
The idea for the page was conceived when members of FLIP attended the 1vyG conference in February. The 1vyG conference, organized by first generation students from Brown University, tries to foster dialogue and the sharing of ideas across schools. The most recent 1vyG conference was the first in the young organization’s history and was held at Brown University at the end of February.
Launched the on March 22, 2015, the page gained over 1,000 likes in one day. The Columbia University Class Confessions page itself is a stark commentary on thetribulations that first generation and low-income students face on campus. One anonymous person submitted “I hate when people ask me where I’m from or where do I live. I’ve been homeless for almost two years. I don’t have a place to live. I don’t have a conclusive place that I can claim as where I came from.” This is just one example of the type of confessions the page publishes daily.
The more than 200 confessions submitted in under a week are a stark look at the reality of students who are often swept under the rug at elite institutions. Students struggling to afford a meal are not a part of the usual image that Ivy League colleges elicit.
Yet first generation and low-income students are a sizable minority on campus. 16% of students in the Class of 2018at Columbia University are first generation college students. As organizations like FLIP and pages like Columbia University Class Confessions continue to foster a supportive community for first generation and low-income students, administrators of elite universities are increasingly being held accountable. Will they yield to the force of social progress or continue to dwell in an ivory tower?