A few days ago, I read a post on the UT confessions Instagram account. Someone confessed to hate students who just get money from their parents without having to find a job to pay for their expenses. 450 likes. I first scrolled past it. 31 comments. I know. Checking the comment section on social media is never a good idea.
So, I decided to check the comments. People were claiming the writer of the confession to be simply jealous and envious of the people from a wealthier background. But I think they are missing the point. I have noticed myself that the university is a very divided community. Divided by languages, ethnical backgrounds, religions but also wealth. Students go on ski vacation, have travelled the world and take board years. As if it was the most natural thing in the world. My parents cannot provide for me every month. I do worry regularly about paying my living expenses, my rent, my tuition fee. During my first week of my Bachelor, I remember that I asked my fellow students about the delay of my student grant. I was met with quizzical looks. No one had an idea what I was talking about. Their parents were paying for their expenses.
While some UT courses purposely provided all the necessary papers for free, others expected expensive books to pass the exam. Education should be for everyone. A university should want to attract the smartest minds. However, at the university differences between people become painfully obvious. The latest MacBook next to a 5-year old laptop. People whose parents can afford to spend thousands of euros per year next to people who pay their tuition in instalments. People who take a board year for personal development next to people who have to pass their exams to avoid a costly delay.
I understand that there will always be advantages for some people and disadvantages for others. In real life and in education. But the reactions on the Instagram post showed me that many students are not even aware of these structures anymore. Being wealthy is the norm. But students will also be given influential positions in society in the near future. A society that is more divided and diverse than the exclusive UT community.
The writer of the confession does not really hate these students who benefit from their parents. But he or she is also noticing that the university is enforcing inequalities and is indirectly rewarding students from wealthier families. Students who only focus on having a great student time and take it for granted. Maybe the base of the academic system should be the student from a non-academic, lower socioeconomic background. People might still have advantages but no one should have disadvantages when it comes to education.