Ithaca Student: Describing Yourself As a Broke College Student ‘Trivializes’ Poverty

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By Jillian Kay Melchior | 11:44 am, April 27, 2017

It’s offensive to the impoverished when college students describe themselves as “broke,” an Ithaca College student has claimed.

Writing in The Ithacan, life and culture editor Katie Nalepinski cited the Online Etymology Dictionary, which says the term ‘broke’ originally meant insolvent, afflicted or miserable.

That’s apparently not a struggle most college students have to endure, Nalepinski said, pointing out that even if they can’t afford to buy soda or fill their gas tank, they at least have a roof over their heads.

“College students need to take a step back and recognize the privilege we have just being at college,” Nalepinski wrote.

She added that using the term ‘broke’ is basically appropriation of poverty culture. Students who refer to themselves as broke are “monopolizing what it really means not to have money” and engaging in the “glorification of poverty” without really understanding the experience, she said.

In Nalepinski’s reckoning, the single word “broke” carries enormous socioeconomic consequences.

“Social mobility is impossible when those in higher classes identify with lower-class stereotypes because it pushes people to ignore impoverished individuals,” she wrote. “Romanticizing suffering creates the false notion that the middle class equals the lower class—which eradicates the lower class itself.”

When students describe themselves as broke, they’re actually propping up an exploitative system, she concluded. “The broke-ass college kid stereotype inadvertently ignores and undermines the struggles of those with lower socioeconomic status,” she wrote. “College students glorify their middle–class poverty to the point where it’s perpetuating the American class system.”

Yeah, but what about Ithaca College students’ parents, who are really broke from footing their children’s college bill?

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