With the new academic year in full swing, it is time once again to return to a discussion of class and higher education. I have come across several official news reports and anecdotes highlighting major shifts in college attendance as a result of economic problems. At my own institution, an elite liberal arts college in the South, administrators fear that middle-class high school students who are considering college now will turn to less expensive state schools. More students are requiring financial aid than ever, which means that colleges and universities may be more selective in who they admit (that is, make sure that new students can pay their own way). A local news story reported a huge influx of the number of students attending the local community colleges. For the first time, admission to some of these programs is becoming selective. Working-class community college students may be edged out of the few positions they hold.
We all personally understand the issues affecting working-class college students. I propose a campaign this year that is in keeping with one of our core missions: to support college students from the working class, students who may be experiencing increasing difficulties and isolation in these tough times. There has been much discussion among AWCA members about the need for reaching out to undergraduates, helping them form campus groups and providing invaluable mentorship along more formal lines than what we usually provide on our own. I would encourage all of us to continue having this conversation, to share resources, success stories, and advice with one another, so that we may as an organization provide some assistance to those making their first steps on the difficult path we all began years ago. Suggestions and comments would be welcome.
AWCA has a new website, if you haven?t already been redirected here (http://awcaonline.org/wordpress/), one that should allow for greater communication among members. We also have a presence on Facebook, for those of you who are interested in sharing information and ideas in that venue. And we have a discussion list that is open to all members ( firstname.lastname@example.org ).
The other organizers and I have built the foundations of this organization but we now need its members to build upon those foundations. Every single one of AWCA?s members is a survivor, a class warrior, with an incredible personal story. We need to work on working together to become even more than just a sum of our individually amazing parts.
This fall, AWCA will be holding its bi-annual elections for officers. We are still looking for people to assist in running the elections. If you would like to run for office or nominate someone to run, please contact any one of the officers. It is our hope that we can hold the elections by the end of the year and that new officers can take their positions on the first day of 2010.
Allison L. Hurst