A Needed Conversation
As the year comes to a close amidst daydreams of sandy beaches, aspirations for the next year have begun to arise. The Hopkins community strives to raise awareness about the injustices of the world, but it often ignores the plight of poverty.
The school has sponsored assemblies on race, gender, and the LGBTQ+ community, yet socioeconomic status is rarely mentioned. This silent problem needs to be confronted. Simply awarding financial aid will not fix disparate communities nor the cultural stigmas that go along with poverty.
Wealth is perhaps society’s most dividing attribute. Since the beginning of civilization, the rich and poor have always been at odds. The repercussions of this timeless confict have made their way into the Hopkins community.
Many students prefer not to discuss their financial status. Their wish for privacy is perfectly acceptable. Students should have the freedom to disclose what they want about themselves; however, this silence becomes a problem when students feel as if they have to hide their lack of money.
To combat this issue, the Hopkins community needs to foster more open discussion about socioeconomic status. A reflective assembly with an open mic session could certainly be the frst step to understand the effects of poverty.
The more pertinent question of wealth transcends the experiences of individual student and rather is aimed at the school, itself. Over the years, Hopkins has accumulated an endowment
of a hundred sixty million dollars. Imagine Hopkins as a magnet. The rich from each of its surrounding communities have invested heavily in Hopkins via tuition and donations. As a result, Hopkins has thrived, procuring a beautiful campus and a high quality classroom experience.
As one looks past Hopkins, surrounding disparate communities come to view and questions begin to arise. Why do we deserve automatic water bottle fllers and a fancy turf football feld when there are those around us living in poverty? How can we justify our elevated status?
Sadly, there is no easy solution to this moral dilemma. Some may say that Hopkins provides an education that exceeds its competition, so therefore it deserves its success. Others might say that most people do not care enough to sacrifce everything in the name of equality. An institution’s own survival and expansion is valued more than giving. This natural selfishness does not mean Hopkins cannot be considered a charitable school.
If Hopkins breeds youths who are aware of wealth disparity and committed to aiding the downtrodden of the world, then it is actively combatting the plight of poverty.
Many graduates of the senior class will attain positions of power. The alumni of this school have the ability to revolutionize their communities. The far-reaching tendrils of education can impact the community much more than any Canned Food Drive, which is why the question of socioeconomic status cannot be ignored.
Many students begin to learn about poverty and the historical context of this country’s poor only in the final History and English classes of their Hopkins career. These imperative lessons should not be relegated to only a small portion of a Hopkins education. There needs to be a school wide discussion. There needs to be a larger emphasis on teaching about systemic poverty, all so students can be the change of the future.
This is not to say that community service events are pointless. Even if the impact of a soup kitchen shift or tutoring session might be relatively small, they allow students to interact with the unfortunate
around them. Education and experience, in conjunction, provides students with an insightful blend that will hopefully infuence them later in life during an opportunity for great change.