What is privilege at Thacher?
Do Thacher students truly comprehend privilege? The faculty members seem to think they do somewhat. In response to “Thacher students understand what it means to be privileged,” every single one of the faculty’s responses fell from 2 to 4 (on the 5 point scale), with a mean of exactly 3.
The convoluted answer makes sense, too. With mass media, students can now see the struggles of the poorest, most marginalized communities on Earth. One junior mentioned that students can actually see Syrian refugees fighting for space on a boat, and realize that if their biggest problem is a paper, they are privileged.
However, many faculty believe that students “cannot completely” understand their privilege. According to one, the vast majority of students have never had to struggle with food insecurity or other problems that great, so they “don’t know that reality.”
Several teachers noticed ignorance in the Thacher student body, as well. One claimed to see it when Thacher students frequently complain about the stress of the college process, as not all high school students get to attend college, and about half of those who do attend community colleges. Another teacher remarked how male students do not quite understand the issues women face in the workplace, as those issues do not concern them.
By contrast, the students believe that their ignorance is more moderate.
The information pictured above is the students’ perception of how aware they are of issues facing certain groups. It is on a 1-5 scale, with 5 being strongly agree and 1 being strongly disagree (the opposite of most of the other charts).
This perception that Thacher students do not understand the struggles of the poor is accurate, as 13.3% of students attested that the poor face no issues. 10.8% of respondents also concurred that women and people of color face no issues.
Several students remarked on a pervasive ignorance in the student body facing minority groups, such as asians, blacks, muslims, non-cisgendered individuals, women, and conservative students. At Thacher, women are quite noticeably disadvantaged in “sport support,” students of color and non-cisgendered individuals complain about offensive jokes, and conservative students are irritated from being associated with “anti-gay movements, racism, etc.”
Students alleged that this ignorance can beget a distorted perception of the world. “There is sort of a stigma at Thacher that if you are not extremely wealthy then you are not wealthy at all,” explained one student. “Coming from a middle class family, I am more representative of an average American and yet I feel as though I live in some sort of poverty even though I enjoy a comfortable life.”
In addition, many students have also complained about the school’s ignorance of many issues and are especially frustrated with its determination of merit; it will always reward students privileged with “mental ability.”
“A lot of people,” one senior said, “didn’t want to have to listen to the academic awards, because they know that the system will never, ever, award them anything, no matter how hard they try, because they just can’t compete… They might put in ten times more work than anybody else, and they never get recognition for it by the Thacher system.” He asked, how can the system reward “who has done the best work? You can’t really compare individual people’s outcomes when none of them were in the same situation to begin with.”