I Have the Most Awesome Students in the World. And You Can Help Them.

4 Oct

As some of you know, I have a day job as a professor. At Brooklyn College, where I teach political science.

One of our cherished little secrets at Brooklyn College is that we have the most awesome undergraduates in the world. Listening to my students in class, I often feel like I’m teaching the 21st century’s New York Intellectuals: only instead of hailing from Odessa and Poland, they come from Nigeria, Grenada, Palestine, and Tajikistan. My students have gone onto Rhodes Scholarships at Oxford, graduate degrees at top universities in the US and elsewhere, transformative activism with labor unions, community groups, antiwar coalitions, Occupy, and more. I’m not the sentimental sort, but the simple truth is: I love these guys. They make my job what it is.

The political science department has a scholarship program, which grants competitive awards to our majors. That program, as you can imagine, is woefully underfunded. I’d like to ask you to make a donation so that my students can go on to do the fabulous things they’re meant to do. Because many of them are poor, your money—$50, $100, $500—makes a huge difference. It can help a junior buy her semester’s books. It can mean a semester’s tuition. It can pay a month’s rent for a senior’s first year of grad school.

So please make a donation. Here’s how:

1. By check: Make checks payable to The Brooklyn College Foundation. In the memo of your check or in a note included with your check, please indicate that your donation is being made in support of the Political Science Department Award (31606156). All checks should be mailed to The Brooklyn College Foundation, 2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210.

OR

2. By credit/debit card online:  Go to this link at the Brooklyn College Foundation. In the “”fund designation” box, please write 31606156. And in the “additional comments or questions related to this donation”” box, please indicate that your donation is being made in support of the Political Science Department Award (31606156).

It’s that simple. And yet—as Candice Bergen used to say—that complex. Can’t find that clip right now, so you’ll have to settle for this.

8 Responses to “I Have the Most Awesome Students in the World. And You Can Help Them.”

  1. Bill Murray October 8, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    Corey,

    Do you have sufficient alumni to create an alumni scholarship program? My department, at a small engineering school in the midwest, has supported about 3/4 of our undergraduates (our department typically has between 70 and 90 students in it at at any one time) with $500-$1000 scholarships through small monthly donations from our alumni for at least 15 years. 20 people giving $20 per month (through automatic payments) is ~$5000 per year. As the years go by the students that got scholarships often will support the program. Currently, while I don’t know the exact numbers, I would guess we get $25,000 per year for these scholarships.

  2. DidIactuallyjustpostsomething? October 11, 2012 at 3:13 am #

    I had you in a class, first time looking at your blog and I was happy to see such a nice post.
    On a side note: Not that I speak for everyone but I’m sure many of us would appreciate it if you didn’t use the word “poor.” It can come off as harsh and condescending considering it means something different to everyone. As you acknowledged before, a lot of students come from diverse backgrounds- my mother is an immigrant from a developing country where her quality of life was very different and although on paper it may seem otherwise she would never consider herself “poor” now. I’m sure students who have similar stories have the same view as her. I don’t know…I feel like the word “poor” takes away the the complexity of different situations if that makes sense and I took it as othering. I understand that your intentions are good but personally I think “lower income bracket” would have read better and definitely less generalized

    • Corey Robin October 11, 2012 at 8:31 am #

      First, hello! What class with me did you take? Second, I understand how you feel. This is an issue that has a long history in America — how people identify themselves, class-wise, versus the reality of their class position. I can see how it feels to someone to be described as x when they see themselves as x. But I also think it’s important in this country not to be afraid of calling things as they are. Most of our students are poor. The problem is that we ascribe moral failures and failings to people who are poor. But being poor just means not having much if any money. No shame in that.

      • SK October 11, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

        There is shame in being poor, however, for all those who are. I’m not sure it’s fair to say that people who are disempowered by their lack of money should feel empowered enough to own the word poor. The terms “poverty” or “lower income bracket” have a little bit of distance to them – they speak to a social location you happen to find yourself within. But “being” poor is something that you are. And that thing you are is something that isn’t good – even if we eliminate the moral connotations. In other words, I suffer “from” poverty, but I “am” poor.

        The argument you make would seem to apply to cases of race and gender, for instance, but not to class. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a particular skin color or a particular gender, even if our society sometimes makes it seem otherwise. But there is something wrong with being poor. We overcome racism and sexism when people are free to be men or woman (or anything else), black or white (or anything else). We overcome class when no one is poor.

      • Corey Robin October 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

        Those words have distance to them because they are euphemisms, neutral sounding social science terms that obscure the ugliness of the situation they are meant to denote. I refuse to participate in that. You’re right: there is something wrong with being poor. The answer to that is not to say “I’m not poor, I’m in a lower bracket.” The answer is for people not to be poor. The shame you speak of will not be alleviated by using polite language; it will be alleviated by: a) understanding that poverty is an economic, not a moral, condition; and b) eliminating poverty.

      • postedagain October 11, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

        Hi! It was a political theory class; don’t get too excited-I’m far from being a stellar student.
        Another long standing issue in America (and everywhere else) is people being TOLD how to identify themselves by others.The word poor has way more connotation than what you just mentioned which in turn makes it too vague to be accurate. So I am all for calling things for what they are; which is why I made it point to bring this up in the first place. “Lower income bracket” makes sense because it pretty much says what it is

  3. SK October 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    I’m not talking about being polite. Being polite is a question of how you speak about “others” when they happen to be present. I’m talking about being sensitive, and this has to do with how you talk to those “others” directly.

    Put differently, being polite is done for one’s own sake, being sensitive is done for someone else’s.

    And just to be clear, I do wholeheartedly agree with all of your points.

    • Leon October 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

      I think the issue has more to do with a reader’s understanding of the word “poor” when reading this blog. There is a clear distinction between absolute and relative poverty. The students at Brooklyn College are quite clearly not in any sort of absolute poverty – widely considered less than $2 a day. People in the US referred to as “poor” that correlate it with absolute poverty will take offense to relating their living situation with third world conditions. There is however, relative poverty in the United States which starts out at much higher income level. This is obviously what Corey is referring to. Simple miscommunication. It may be wise to clarify in the future to whom exactly you are referring to, especially when using words with negative connotations.

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