Milford Academy: “neither seen nor heard”

To your right, you’ll find the logo of the fictional boarding school on Arrested Development, the Milford Academy. The hallmark of the Milford Academy is that the students are trained to be “neither seen nor heard”. It’s a comical reference used to explain the youngest son Buster’s ability to stay out of the way during arguments or disappear without being noticed. I’ve used this reference often lately to refer to my ability to stay out of the way of my roommate in my apartment, but I found a professional use of it this week.

I received my first email from a parent this week, and it took me somewhat off-guard for a few reasons. First, I’m not accustomed to getting contact with parents- in activities, we hear far less from parents than the groups with whom we share the student life suite (conduct and residence life). But this one struck me as particularly timely. I got an email from the mother of a commuter student on our campus, wondering what measures we have to help out students with limited means. I tried to help out, giving resources about our commuter meal plan and how to get a discounted T pass. But as I searched for resources to help students who aren’t of our typical financially independent, less money-strapped profile, we came up wanting. She spoke of them not having too much money to afford food, and that understandably hit home for me. Given the journey that I’m on this month, that struck me as particularly difficult.

I’ve spoken up before about if some of our programs, such as our ticketed events (which each cost between $25 and $30) or Christmas Extravaganza raffle tickets (students spent up to $40 to buy raffle tickets for the chance to win expensive prizes), don’t create a divide between students with expendable cash and those who have to guard their funds a little more closely. Honestly, I don’t know how much we think about that.

A few weeks back, we had a great discussion about the Catholic Intellectual Tradition as professional development for student affairs staff. A major topic of discussion was the gap between the number of underrepresented and less affluent students the school used to accept, and the number that we serve now. It is considerably fewer. As I continued to correspond with this parent, and learned more about the family’s financial constraints, I felt called to speak up for these students (however many there may be).

I’ll be chronicling a few campus programs that are doing well to fight hunger and other problems of limited means, and I have loved learning more about institutions who are taking care of their own students. But I continue to wonder: what role can I play in advocating for the students among us who, while not always seen or heard, need our help?

I’m doing this in hopes to raise awareness about food instability, and money for the Greater Boston Food Bank. Should you feel compelled to give to the latter, please click the link below! I thank you, as will those who benefit from the money that you give 🙂 

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