In order to cover my SIC, I have had to work between 17 and 19 hours every week for each of my three years attending Yale University both on and off campus. I had to quit club water polo my second semester of first-year in order to start working and paying my SIC (I wasn’t that great but it was still super fun). When my wealthier teammates who could afford the time and equipment the sport required called me “lazy” and claimed I just wanted an excuse to quit, I realized that there exists two very different Yale images. One illusion in which the brochures promise low income students, a campus full of endless opportunity, an equal opportunity to succeed. And the reality in which low income students struggle to even exist on campus and keep up with the more financially fortunate of our peers. Yale recruits low income and BIPOC students under the guise that there exists some kind of “level playing field” regardless of one’s financial situation. While I’m low income, I am also white. Being white at Yale automatically affords me certain privileges such as feeling comfortable around my mostly all white, and usually male, professors. As a rising senior majoring in STEM, I have never had a black professor. 0 out of my 33 professors were black. Only 3 out of 33 were professors of color. As a white woman, I feel comfortable reaching out to my white bosses and requesting time off for things like office hours. While sometimes the SIC makes me feel as though I do not belong at Yale, I have never had to question my position here because of my race. Because of the continuing existence of the SIC, I have had to give up working in the chemistry labs (a position that would look awesome for medical school) and instead found now work in the dining hall (a less luxurious position to medical schools) as they offered more hours and higher pay in order to cover my SIC. Because of the continuing existence of the SIC, I have watched my friends’ mental health deteriorate as they attempt to juggle academic and working to cover the SIC and extracurriculars and some semblance of a social life and squeezing in the occasional meal and barely finding the time to sleep. Because of the continuing existence of the SIC, I am constantly stressed about applying to medical school, for I know that my wealthier peers have taken full advantage of their time here at Yale in volunteering, taking unpaid lab positions, and making studying for the MCAT their full time job. I am tired of giving up opportunities and things I truly enjoy and instead working to pay my SIC. I am tired of an institution in which my friends and I must sacrifice our mental health in exchange for a place amongst our peers. I am tired of feeling less than and as though I’m constantly leagues behind my wealthier peers. I am tired of paying the SIC, and I am (once again) demanding its elimination. The elimination of the SIC has only become more urgent due to the COVID-19 crisis as low income students and their families have been most negatively impacted by the pandemic.
Karissa McCright, she/her/hers, 2021, TD