It's hard. It's hard to be a student. You have to worry about how to afford college, when staying in college might be the only way you can make something of your life. You might've thought when you were accepted to COA that this is the PERFECT ticket. Not only am I going to be getting a college education, but I am also going to be part of an institution that is socially and environmentally conscious. It was a utopian idea becoming a reality: the opportunity to get qualified in wanting to make a difference. We all bought into it, and now we hold this utopia close while we are at COA. But once we come here, we have to face the challenge of the realising that utopias do not exist in real life for a reason, because utopias cannot be translated into reality. Reality is tainted with darker colours. We, as COA students, understand our paradox perfectly. The paradox is that we want to solve systemic problems from within in the system. Why is this a problem? This brings us to another concept that we understand above all, that everything is connected.
Getting into college is the first obstacle in a systematically designed obstacle course. You have to sustain yourself while being at college to be academically successful and achieve the degree that is supposed to help you succeed after you leave college. How many times have you had to choose between a warm meal and having a roof over your head? Maybe that has never been the choice directly, but in order to afford rent, you may have had to skip a few meals and bought food with little nutrition. Maybe you never realised how your stress, depression, and anxiety that was affecting your academic work, is only because you are not eating properly. No amount of therapy can solve that problem, in fact it would leave you with even less money. When are we going to be able to address the real problem that is the root of it all?
Sure, it's a harder problem to make college cheaper, that is a national problem. But we can start by trying to figure out how we can make sure that coming to COA sets us up for success and not being more vulnerable to failing because of factors that are not your fault. It takes work to get closer to utopia, and that starts with taking care of yourself.
Vera Fisman-Resheff, Donovan Glasgow and Sarah Somes have created a working report that extensively illustrates the food insecurity at COA. Take a look, and let's start thinking about what we want to do about it. (Week 7 ACM is devoted to talking about this topic!)
Link to view: