Staff Editorial: Monetary demands disregard students’ backrounds

“We’ll just charge it to your tuition.” It’s how we pay for sweatshirts, field trips, extra IDs. We may have probably grown numb to this phrase relentlessly thrown around by teachers, coaches, and staff. But when that tuition statement comes in the mail, $5 here and $50 there makes a much bigger difference than we may have thought. On top of the money spent on academia, ever-growing funds are needed for us to maintain a normal social life among our peers at Benilde-St. Margaret’s.

While BSM’s status as a private school is associated with an affluent lifestyle, not all students are financially well off enough to carry the burden of these social and academic charges. Concern is rarely paid to those students or families who are not able to afford the constant bombardment of payment. The question of “Are we asking for too much?” is rarely, if ever asked.

Take, for instance, the recently discontinued Christmas basket program. While the motivation of sponsoring a family in need was honorable, the method of doing so often forgot the hurting families in our own community. By asking each student to contribute a specific amount––and keeping track of the students who have yet to do so––shame was brought to those who could not meet the asked donation, through circumstances of no control of their own.

Even after the conclusion of the adopt-a-family program, the holidays still cause a financial burden on BSM students. With class-wide Secret Santas or gift exchanges, students are expected to spread holiday cheer with material items that might not be easy for all members of the community to afford.

When the bell rings on Friday afternoon, the financial insecurity of many students just increases. “Let’s go shopping and see a movie this weekend!” It’s harmless, just an idea you throw out for something fun to do on a Saturday night. While you may not have intended insensitivity, the underlying pressure of spending $25 on any given weekend might be too burdensome for some students.

At this school, spending is a social given. In sports, most coaches make it very clear that team apparel is considered optional, but within the group of involved students there is peer pressure to purchase a warmup suit, a sweatshirt, or team shoes. Walking down the halls on any given gameday, the product of this pressure is apparent on each individual athlete. Yes, team spirit is important. But more important is that no family has to strain themselves to achieve it.

Amidst these constant expectations, it is refreshing to hear Campus Minister Mr. Mike Jeremiah acknowledge that students may not be able to pay for retreats, and that arrangements can be made to accommodate all students’ needs. However, his sentiment is not continued by most.

As a community, we are often a bubble of prosperity––ignorant prosperity. Instead of recognizing that we are surrounded by students coming from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, we too often presume everyone surrounding us in our community is wealthy. Much of BSM needs to take a step back and realize that our yearly tuition might be all that a family can afford, and the endless sup- plementary costs are simply too much.