Starling of the Month - May 2019
It’s graduation day...
What you’ve always imagined to be the happiest day of your young adult life.
All the papers, exams, late-night snacks, last minute crams... all those days are in the past. As you walk through the academic halls you take one last glance at the very place you knew as home for four years. You now shift your focus towards the future. However, the mixed bag of emotions you feel doesn’t seem to be on par with how you had imagined. Relief and excitement exude from one portion of your gown. Fear and uncertainty, the other.
As you take your seat and the ceremony proceeds, you think upon the bottomless pit that is your student loans. What was it, 20? 30? $40,000? You can't remember how much was borrowed. All you can recall is that repayment begins soon, very soon. As you sit in a daze frightened by the next steps of life the speaker, who has been addressing your class for the past 30 minutes, utters this,
“On behalf of the 8 generations of my family who have been in this country, we're gonna put a little fuel in your bus...My family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.”
This was the fortunate case for the some 400 Morehouse College graduates as billionaire Robert F. Smith graced the commencement stage.
Despite Smith's generous pledge to the class, there were those who felt distressed by the action. The Washington Post, in particular, caught the ire of social media for writing an op-ed on the action questioning whether the deed was fair to the families of those who must pay their own tuition and loans. The op-ed however, was a response to those questioning the fairness rather than a validation.
As for the answer to the question, no it is not fair. While it would be incredible to belong to a society in which countless families would not be forced to disrupt the foundations of their lives in order to send their children to college that is not the case. College tuition has continually risen since the late 1980s to this day. While promises of affordable or even free tuition for the attendees of colleges are gaining political popularity, we are still a ways away from those becoming the norm.
For using his own resources to help get a class started on their future Robert Smith receives this months designation as Starling of the month. Don't critique the individual supporting those families in financial need rather, critique the system which forces families in need to struggle.
See what Twitter had to say about Robert F. Smith below: