Following the controversial release of the Central Student Government Campus Affordability Guide last January, students at the University of Michigan responded with the creation of “Being Not-Rich at UM,” which circulated online and has now spread to other schools around the country. The “Being Not-Rich” guide was created as a Google document by Public Policy junior Lauren Schandevel and other University students on which students can suggest tips to help other students save money, instead of the Affordability Guide which suggested adjustments such as cutting down on laundry services and selling one’s car. The Google document allows students to review and add additional comments regarding the resources mentioned. The document, shared via social media, prompted a response from CSG to update their version an affordability guide.
When CSG released the original Campus Affordability Guide earlier this semester, students deemed the guide out of touch with the needs of the student body.
“It comes up twice in those first 50 points that students should get rid of cleaning or laundry service subscriptions in order to save money,” LSA senior Zoe Proegler said in a January interview. “That, to me, doesn’t sound like they’re really addressing students who they intended to be targeting with that. The whole guide seemed to put CSG at a disadvantage in communicating what they were trying to do. There’s no way you can explain to somebody what a balance transfer is in two sentences. And to attempt to do so is, I think, grossly negligent.”
CSG addressed student concern at a February town hall in which Vice President Nadine Jawad, a Public Policy senior, led a discussion to adjust the Campus Affordability Guide. The “Being Not-Rich at UM” document inspired the creation of the Michigan Affordability and Advocacy Coalition, a student organization at the University “devoted to bettering the quality of life for lower-income students on campus,” according to the group’s Facebook page. MAAC hopes to grow and make cross-campus connections around the issues of housing and food security.
MAAC was thrilled when the “Bring Not-Rich” document idea spread to the University of Texas at Austin. The coalition encouraged its members to continue spreading the idea throughout the nation.
“Some exciting news to share! Some students at UT Austin have started their own “Being Not-Rich” crowd-sourced doc aimed to compile resources and advice for low- and middle-income students,” the group posted on its Facebook page. “We are so happy we were able to help them get this running! If you or someone you know attends another college or University and would like to start a guide of their own for their school, we have made instruction docs and would love to help you!”
At the top of the “Being Not-Rich at UT” document, its creators thanked the University of Michigan for the inspiration.