It's been five weeks since Occupy Wall Street began in Zuccotti Park, Manhattan, and to many, it's still largely unclear what exactly the protesters hope to achieve. Talk of disenfranchisement, social inequality, and "the 99 percent" abounds, but it's impossible to know whether it will all lead to institutional change.
What we do know is that, according to Inequality.org, the top 1 percent of American households earned 21 percent of all pre-tax income in 2008, compared to 8.9 percent in 1976. A very small percentage of American families can afford to take on the sticker price of a Bowdoin education. Given that the families of more than half the student body can afford $54,470 in tuition each year, it stands to reason that the socioeconomic makeup of our campus is not even close to representative of the country at large.
Students who receive financial aid also benefit from the tremendous wealth that supports the College, and so they too have a stake in the way it is distributed in this country. Regardless of whether you receive financial aid or not, the very fact that you attend Bowdoin means that you are benefiting from wealth that is concentrated in the hands of the few. If income inequality is something that you care about, know that being a Bowdoin student gives you unique leverage to effect change. It will be difficult for our country's decision makers to ignore criticism of the economic system when those directly benefitting from the unequal distribution of wealth are nonetheless convinced the system is broken.
The editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient's editorial board, which is comprised of Nick Daniels, Sam Frizell, Linda Kinstler, Zoë Lescaze and Elizabeth Maybank.