From March through May, my mom, who is a domestic housekeeper, lost all her clients due to fears about the COVID-19 crisis. The majority of them did not offer to continue to pay her at all despite the intense vulnerability and exposure my mom would face when she eventually returned to clean their home. Therefore, while I was trying to stay on track and turn in assignments in the spring, we had to use part of my board and room refund to pay immediate bills. The relief of having that refund tells me exactly how much of a difference $3,700 can make for working students like me. Coincidentally, that refund amount is the amount by which Yale would have to raise my financial aid to cover the Student Income Contribution. I’m really grateful to the students who fought before me for the financial aid package that bore that refund, and now I’m calling on Yale to live up to the image it projects by eliminating the SIC for all students on aid. To Yale, that money is a rounding error. To Yale, the SIC is an expense they can distribute to everyone in a couple weeks — but to me, that money is educational expenses, and that money is time that I could be spending on homework or studying. The resulting worry and lack of time has definitely prevented me from reaching my full potential as a scholar. Plus, now that my parents are back to work, my father and my mother are likely to become exposed to COVID-19. Neither of their employment situations give them access to a union or enforceable labor protections, so their employers are not pressured to stay accountable to CDC guidelines. I know that I need to be ready to help out in case of a medical emergency or any other emergency, since they do not have insurance. This has always been true during my time at Yale, and I have tried to save as best as I can, but with SIC educational costs, it doesn’t result in a real savings base. Without the SIC, I would still work some hours to save up and get work experience, but I would have control of those hours and wages. The situation is especially daunting while the public health crisis is getting worse in my home state of Texas. The uncertainty and death that permeates my home state is out of Yale’s control, but whether I will be able to participate fully when I enroll in my senior year is in their hands. I want to finish my education by doing my best, and I want that for the students entering college after me. Yale must eliminate the SIC once and for all, because we can’t afford to wait.
Naomi D’Arbell, she/her/hers, 2021, TD.