There is a secret held by many a Portland State student, closely guarded, but not really secret; not shameful, but not boasted of. We keep it from others, and ourselves as well.
It is the grinding, relentless poverty of the college student. Students push poverty out of their minds, taking loan after loan each term without dwelling on the ramifications, trying to hang on until graduation, concentrating on academics.
Our university community may not fully realize how deeply many students live in the quiet perseverance of being broke and being a student. And the weird ways that poverty can manifest.
A busy student I know led a prestigious student group last year while racking up $1800 in parking fines and impoundment fees on her car. She gave up on recovering the car, and eventually purchased a different vehicle. Some students can’t afford their textbooks. I’ve visited ASPSU’s food pantry myself several times this term and in past terms.
The wolves just catch up with you. You feed the ones that must be fed, and try to ignore the howling of the others as you bear down your latest term paper. Eventually, the checkbook gets empty, the next pittance of income too far away.
That is when I have been grateful for the existence of several things: ASPSU’s food pantry in Smith. The endless help of the Financial Aid office. Emergency loans from the Bursar’s Office. A little help from my friends in my personal life.
I would not have made it through without them.