Schools must learn that when you come from poverty, you need more than financial aid to succeed.
Night came early in the chill of March. It was my freshman year at Amherst College, a small school of some 1,600 undergraduates in the hills of western Massachusetts, and I was a kid on scholarship from Miami. I had just survived my first winter, but spring seemed just as frigid. Amherst felt a little colder — or perhaps just lonelier — without the money to return home for spring break like so many of my peers.
At that moment, however, I thought less of home and more about the gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach. I walked past Valentine Hall, the cafeteria, its large windows ghostly in the moonlight. Only the emergency exit signs blazed red in the darkness. There was just enough light to see the chairs stacked on top of the tables and the trays out of reach through the gates that barred me from entry. Amherst provided no meals during holidays and breaks, but not all of us could afford to leave campus. After my first year, I knew when these disruptions were coming and planned for hungry days, charting them on my calendar.