“Access Ain’t Inclusion”
“Access Ain’t Inclusion” Short and to the point, that phrase has stayed with me long after Tony Jack’s visit. His book, The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students, not only bares witness to the experiences of hundreds of students from poor communities but also provides a roadmap for change for schools interested in redesigning and rethinking their equity and inclusion initiatives. Jack talks astutely about the privileged poor–students from low socio-economic backgrounds who attend elite colleges after having attended schools like Andover– and the doubly disadvantaged–students from low socio-economic backgrounds that attend elite colleges from their home schools. Both experience a type of culture shock moving to their new environment but the privileged poor are able to navigate and take advantage of different resources like office hours quicker than the doubly disadvantaged because of their familiarity with the language and culture of those environments.
However, Jack also reminds us that these schools in no ways the great equalizer and that in fact class, class privilege and class stratification are still strong indicators of success whether you attended a school like Andover or not. In his book, he shares stories of students who depend on their school’s cafeteria and housing for meals and shelter throughout the school year, including breaks, as one such example.
Last spring, over 60 faculty and staff read The Privileged Poor in response to his call to action for schools to think about how they can reframe conversations of equity and equality. We invited him to campus to meet with our ACE 1 and 2, OBC, and first generation families (to Andover and college). Many of our students had an opportunity to dine with Jack during his visit to campus last year, asking him pointed questions about his work and the ways they understood it intersecting with their lived experiences here at Andover.
Moved by Jack’s first visit, CaMD teamed up with the College Counseling Office to invite him back to help us kick-off Family Weekend this fall. Many of our families identified with Jack as he shared stories about his experiences at Amherst College. Detailing his own struggles in navigating what he considered the hidden curriculum at his university, Jack now challenges colleges and universities to think about how all students can access and take full advantage of the resources on their campus. With that hurdle out of the way, he posits that students would be able to participate in their campus communities in ways that foster a sense of belonging–access AND inclusion.