Admittedly, NYU Local’s list of things that you could buy with $18.31 is pretty funny, or at least the first couple of bullets before you get the point that there is so much alcohol and takeout that can be bought with a twenty-dollar bill. But at the same time, I am a little disheartened by it. The article perpetuates misconceptions about the 1831 Fund and promotes a self-serving nature amongst students.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for leisure and fun, as well as looking out for “number one” when necessary, but I also believe that we can and should look beyond that from time to time, even if that means skipping a happy hour or two. After all, it’s $18.31 and not $180 or $1800 that is being asked of you. Does it not make you feel a little shrewd that you’d refuse to dispense a couple of dollars because you find your drinks and takeout to be that much more important?
I know people that are in and have read about those that have had to cinch their financial belts so as to simply make enough to pay rent, but this is not the population to whom this list points. If the “list” mentioned a couple more of obligations and financial responsibilities (that still could be funny, or take on a more serious tone), such as “buying a Kindle textbook instead of staking out in course reserves for that one copy at Bobst” or “purchasing three round-trip metro cards so that you don’t have to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge in pouring rain,” then I wouldn’t be as annoyed.
Since the article wants to classify me as one to be “bragging about all the cool things that I’ve done,” let me shed some light on myself:
- I’m an international student, but I am by no means “loaded” or wealthy. There is no financial aid and few scholarships for international students, even Canadians (some schools, such as Amherst offer aid for students with Canadian citizenship), at most US universities (due to endowment and other reasons), which means that I pay the full price tag. Even though there is the notion that international students are “rich beyond belief,” there are those whose parents liquidate savings to send their child for that “American education,” believing that they are providing the best opportunities for their child.
- I am not in debt but I have sold my house in Toronto to pay for this education; that is something that I don’t mention to people, but am willing to do so to better elaborate on myself. I understand and value every dollar that is spent and earned by those that have afforded me to be here. I understand that there are those that have over a $100 00 in debt, but former NYU Local editor-in-chief has $23 000 USD worth of debt, which is less than the Canadian average of $27 000 CDN (and our tuition is also considerably less and our currencies are relatively equal).
- NYU was never my dream school. I enrolled at New York University because I wanted a school that was far from where I grew up since I wanted to make a new start for myself and it was one of the three American schools from whom I received an acceptance offer. For some, NYU was the dream school, but for me, it was simply an institution that I made my own in terms of opportunities and professional relationships.So by no means have I been chugging the proverbial Kool-Aid; I’ve made my choices to get involved this year specifically with several of the University’s resources, because the people here have prove to me that the experience – the good and the bad – has been worth it.
- Part of the reason why I spent two years in Paris was because for the first year, I was not given a choice to study in New York. For some of the Liberal Studies students, seemingly the international ones, there isn’t an option to spend your freshman year on campus. The decision to spend a junior year abroad was comprised of several factors (personal and academic), including that it was more cost efficient for me to live in France (which comes as a surprise to some who find Paris to be more expensive – it simply depends on how you manage your finances).
- I’ve had my own gripes with the University, specifically with regards to health services and academic/administration policies, and can understand some of the strife that others have faced. That said, there is empathizing, and then there is communicating change. By getting to the root of the problem, I’ve instigated change, instead of rehashing the same problem in conversations.
In truth, $18.31 (or the quadrupled amount when we account for the dollar-for-dollar matching by President John Sexton and trustee Dale Hemmerdinger) will not solve the issue of financial aid nor will it solve student debt. What it does do, however, is demonstrate that we acknowledge that there is need and take a stance as a community. I know that in saying the word “community,” complications arise around the term being merely a buzzword of sorts. Let me elaborate and tell you what “community” means to me so that we are on the same page.
I have come to define “community” as our collectively shared experiences and memories. We will look back and be able to mention to one another “the Time Keeper,” Violet Ball, and more, and elicit a smile. There may not be a campus full of green, or a large turnout at sports games, but we are still tied to one another by the small things. This was our undergraduate experience.
And you may say that “if this was ‘community,’ you certainly wouldn’t wish that upon another soul,” then that is fine. I do not ask any of you to fall under my “written spell,” but to simply hear me out. I am willing to take what I could not be afforded (e.g. financial aid) and the challenges delivered, and hope that someone’s experience and dream will be better. I gave because I believe that community – in all shapes and sizes – will be shaped not only but what others will do, but what we have also done. I wanted to give someone the chance to find their dream in this big city, and it may only be a water droplet in a vast ocean, but at least I can tell you that I support the future you in the choices that you will make.
One more thing: could we have please used the logo on a white background (which is widely available) instead of the screen grab from the video? It would’ve made the organization’s name and word “sucks” pop a little more and make the image all that more catchy – I’m just saying.
Full disclosure: I am an 1831 Fund committee member; however, these views are my own.