BY KACIE GROSSMEIER
I can’t be the only SNC female who’s heard it—the label given on the sole pretext of attending a private liberal arts college in De Pere, WI. Surprisingly, it isn’t scholar, intellectual or ambitious student. Nope. The label is Rich White Girl.
I’ve had the label slapped on me from peers and alumni. Usually, I bite my tongue or leave a small remark of “You don’t know everyone’s story” or “I’m a woman not a girl,” but more needs to be said.
First of all, not every female at this school is rich. Not every female wears only Uggs, Sperry’s and The North Face. Not every female is funded by her parents’ bank accounts. Sure, some women on this campus meet these qualifications, but this type of female can be found on any campus, private or public.
Furthermore, even if a female student is, by whatever qualification, “wealthy”, how can she be blamed? No student chose the income of her parents. If her parents can afford the finer things in life, that’s their prerogative. But to assume that all females here come from the same socioeconomic background is to deny the fact that 98% of SNC students receive some type of aid to help defer the cost of tuition. Many women here aren’t rich—they struggle to make tuition payments, will graduate with student loans to pay back and make sacrifices just to be here, getting an education they hope will pay off in the long run.
Now, let’s be real for a moment. A college education is much more attainable to those who grew up with a little more privilege than others and have the opportunity and support to pursue a higher education. In that sense, every student pursuing their bachelor’s degree is on some level “rich.” Still, that in no way denies the varying realities of all students.
Second of all, not every woman at this school is white. Yes, the majority of students on this campus are white. This is a small, liberal arts college in Northeast Wisconsin, so yes, chances are there are many white people around. But by using “white” as a part of the label is to attach a slew of stereotypes that are likely not accurate and, even though it is intended to be insulting (even when the insulter is also white) to the white student, it actually degrades students of color. To attest that SNC females are Rich White Girls ostracizes the females of color on this campus, as if to say that only white females are wealthy enough, smart enough and worthy enough to attend this school. Obviously, that isn’t the case at all.
Furthermore, this label perpetuates the socially constructed races of society that continually segregate our entire country. It plays up the link of race and privilege, an inequality that deserves an article of its own. Here, it is crucial to note that race and college attendance is not exclusive, nor is it an accurate representation of this college.
Even if the female is white, remember that she didn’t choose her race. Additionally, there are plenty of white students on this campus who are active dissenters of white supremacy and advocate for equality. Just because a student is white does not mean that she automatically enjoys full benefits and luxuries in society even though those niceties are more readily available to people who are white. There are plenty of white people who are poor, homeless, unemployed and struggling to get by and get help. There are plenty of students at this school who come from such backgrounds, who grew up in those backgrounds, but, because they are attending this school and given this label, they are denied their backgrounds.
The majority of SNC students know this label is false and lazily given out by ignorant people who refuse to open their eyes to the realities of the students on this campus. But the label is concerning and begs addressing.
If we don’t respond to this overt ignorance now, SNC women face a future that involves criticism, degradation and denial of achievement based on their alma mater. All SNC women, regardless of socioeconomic status or race, deserve better.