We, the Swarthmore College First-Generation, Low-Income Council, ignite transformational change through resources, accountability, and a collective voice. Through mobilization around concerns surrounding the FLI experience, the Council will facilitate programs and initiatives that support FLI students. The Council believes in sustainable initiatives that create lasting, long-term structural change. Within this framework, FLI Council student leaders organize to foster community and expand resources. However, we are cognizant that this work should have been done by the College from the beginning; the College is bound by its commitment to FLI students. As the Council advocates for the College to meet the needs of FLI students with critical care, they will continue to make change on their end.
Endowment Mission Statement
The Swarthmore College First-Generation, Low-Income (FLI) Endowment serves as a financial bedrock to support the college experience of first generation and low income students. The quasi endowment aims to close class inequalities for Swarthmore students by providing funds for both sustainable initiatives that create lasting, structural change as well as meeting the evolving needs of current FLI students. The FLI Council will steward the financial resources reaped from the quasi endowment, and in their absence, a chartered student organization dedicated to and run by FLI students may dictate its use.
Issues Facing FLI Students
FLI students are tethered to financial, emotional, and familial weights that are unique to FLI student experience alone. These weights can be categorized into 6 spheres
- Well-being and Belonging
- Lack of institutional support, confidence, support systems, and understanding of the FLI experience by other students, staff, and faculty
- Survivor’s guilt and imposter syndrome
- Lack of Resources
- Food and housing insecurity
- Books, study abroad, and experiential trips
- Difficulty building networks to make use of after graduation
- Proactive Advocacy
- Finding a space
- Having a voice
- Support for Undocumented Students
- Lack of funded opportunities
- Legal barriers
- Family Concerns
- Instability at home
- Pressures of being the sole beacon for a household
- Sending money home
- Unequal levels of preparation
- Cultural insensitivity and unsupportive faculty
- Lack of academic structural supports for academic excellence
The College began recording and documenting data on first-generation students in the past 6 years. It is only in the past decade that higher education institutions are recognizing these cohorts of students and fathoming the immense inequity they face when they arrive at college campuses. Need-blind admission processes and identifying first-generation students in the admissions process is leading to the gradual rise of first-generation students at Swarthmore. Between 2009 and 2018, the percentage of first-generation students within the student body increased from 14% to 20%. Data on low-income students is ambiguous due to privacy mechanisms that prevent financial information from being released. Although many students self-report as low-income and can be cross-checked as such by the Office of Financial Aid, a significant number of students do not know they are low-income. With this being said, given that Swarthmore’s student population is about 1,600, the constituency of the FLI Council is conservatively 320+ students; this figure is not inclusive of low-income students. The FLI Council is the exclusive student governing body that may speak to the needs of first-generation and low-income students.
All programming, events, and resources are open to first-generation and low-income students of Swarthmore College. Leadership positions will be based on the individual capacity of members each semester.