Not Otherwise Addressed
Students in Brown University Dining Services
The student-worker experience and the separations of class within dining halls. This story addresses the disconnect between students who are required to work due to their financial-aid vs. students who don't have to, particularly in the strange dynamic in which these very students become "servers" to other students in the dining halls. Brown University Dining Services (BuDs) is one of the largest student employment program on campus, with many of the students employed identifying as low-income. While we go to the dining halls every single day, the underlying socio-economic divisions within dining services, and the larger requirement of a federal work-study, are often left unnoticed when we order our food.
I interviewed a small group of students who work in the BuDs program. Students spoke highly of the BuDs program itself and the community it has provided them, but also spoke of the underlying social and economic disparities that the federal-work study implies on college campuses, especially at elite institutions such as Brown. While this only highlights a small part of the student-worker experience, this cultural portrait hopes to build a greater sense of awareness and for a part of college life that has become so normalized as to be taken for granted. This project is not associated with the BuDs program, and is meant only to focus on the overall student-worker experience.
An ongoing series of cultural portraits exploring various spaces of Brown's campus. While these spaces have become very much integrated into campus life, the inherent issues regarding race, class, and gender experienced within these spaces often go unnoticed. This project presents photo stories that spotlight specific communities found within Brown's campus. I conducted several interviews with students who identify with the community explored, having conversations about their experiences and views on how underlying issues regarding race, class, and gender have affected their college experience. Each collection of stories hopes to spread awareness about the normalization of these experiences into campus life, and bring to light what has otherwise not been addressed.
"Brown designates a certain amount of money that you should be able to make every semester. That you should be able to put towards tuition. And if you don't make that certain amount of money it has to come from somewhere else-so there is that expectation that they expect you to make while working."
"Which I do think I'm capable of working, but I do feel a lot of problems with it...the whole Brown Financial Aid deal is supposed to make Brown "accessible" to everyone regardless of your socio-economic status. But like, I'm going to work five days a week...and my friends aren't."
"There's this one person who...always wants to get a salad. And they would always...and I'm not trying to paint them awfully. They would always be on their phone, and never look at me like a person. They just kind of look at me like a thing that's making their salad. And for me, that just felt like disrespect."
"I already treated that person differently because I'm in this situation, I'm working just as hard as you are. I'm a student too, you can say "please" and "thank you" and "Hi." I'm not asking you to hold a conversation, I don't want to half the time. But the basics is all I ask for. But there's a lot of people who don't, I'm thinking one specific example, but there's just so many people who forget that there's someone behind the counter. They just think of it as something to get their food."
"I think without an on-campus job, you kind of miss a lot. I'm not talking about BuDs specifically. I know one of my friends when he goes to eateries he doesn't process that they are also students a lot of the times. You know, he kind of just takes for granted that they should be perfect at their job and that they should be professionals."
"For me, I just think like that's probably a new worker, they're probably thinking about exams. Because I work with people like that. I work with students. So I think a lot of the times if you don't work for BuDS, especially if you don't have friends who work for BuDs, you miss that view on school and the Brown community."
"A lot of people who work for BuDs and myself included, if we didn't work we wouldn't have any way of getting any money. I can't ask my parents to send me money and I have bills to pay that I can't just have my parents pay for. That's not a reality for a lot people. And I think it affects your daily life. In times where I can be taking care of an essay and doing a really good job on it, or improving a relationship with a professor...I'm at work. And people who don't have to have a job can do those other things."
"And I'm not saying that work-study shouldn't exist, because I think everyone should have the opportunity to work and make more money if they want to, but I do think that making it so that low-income students have to work harder to get to the same stable place as other students in unfair. Especially in a college setting like where you're working-I work 15 to 20 hours a week, that's 15 to 20 hours a week my friends are using to furthering them."
"Talk to people who have these jobs, and remember that they're people too and that they're students too. Just because you don't have to work doesn't mean I'm not a person too-I'm still here, I'm a Brown student, and I'm still doing whatever I can to graduate. And you're doing the same thing. We have the same goals, we just have different paths."
Gender Disparities in College Hook-Up Culture
This story is comprised of female and male voices who participate in college greek life. Each individual who interviewed separately, and discussed their experiences going into a typical weekend. Those who were interviewed discussed the same issues regarding the double standard of sexual agency, silenced difficulty of concretely defining consent, and the overall lack of communication between men and women in college hook-up culture.
"You travel in your squad of girls just so you can be hit on by guys who will just serve you shitty beer and then the expectation is to go home with somebody, which at the beginning, was fun and new"
"But, sometimes I feel that guys think they have a right that if they want to hook up with you they can hook up with you.
It feels like guys can get drunk to go after the people they want to go after whereas girls go the same parties in the hope to be noticed. But at the end, it just makes guys seem aggressive and the girls seem desperate."
"I would say coming into college, I had a pretty anxious feeling about the social scene after acclimating within the first three weeks, it was something that I eased into."
"I wouldn’t say the hook-up culture is unique to Brown because there are many other colleges that have the same experience but I would say that it’s definitely expected that you, as a guy, or at least a straight guy, that you have to be willing to hook up with a girl who’s definitely had drinks and not thinking at maximum capacity."
"I think that being around guys all the time does reinforce a certain sense of masculinity, and I think that coming from that that there’s a certain stereotype that men should take charge in relationships…even in the hookup culture, that translates into the guy going up to the girl to start the conversation to try to get her number, to try going home with her after, it’s something that the guy it always rests on their shoulders."
"No one would ever explicitly say that let’s mix with this sorority so we can hook up with girls. But I think at a certain level that is the notion that everyone is going for, whether that’s a good thing or bad thing anyone can judge that for themselves. But it’s tough as a girl to weigh that. Sometimes I say it’s a two-way street, but a lot of the time, it’s not."
"There’s definitely for girls conflicting expectations of being down with all the guys, being really cool, being a good time at parties. But then also, this kind of like, fucked up standard of purity. It was my choice to talk to these guys and to hook up with these people, but then for some reason, there were all these extra things attached to that decision."
"I feel torn almost, because as a woman I should be able to do anything I want with my body and that will be pleasurable and fun for me and I’m safe about it, that’s completely okay. But then on the flip side, I don’t want to be perceived as someone who is free as doing those things, just because there is a stigma around women especially acting in such a way. Which takes a lot agency away in how I behave and ends up being dictated by the male in the situation."
It’s definitely easier for a guy to be complacent with how they are interacting in a party. Maybe it has to do with pressures of other guys talking about girls all the time, you going to a party you have to hook up with someone, that’s what might be what people define as a good night.
"I think hookup culture is fine, but it also borders on dangerous, and we just need to look out for each other and keep each other checked. Because the consequences of not doing so are just too high. I think it’s sad that this is the way things are and like what we’re saying something before, something that can happen in a moment that may not affect the perpetrator in an action, but you have to carry that for so long. It can be much more permanent than a single night.
"You just create a larger disparity because on that end its greater, but then on the other end, you mix in alcohol and other drugs and you get a lot worse."