Part 4: Analyzing a Material Culture


Editor-in-Chief Ananya Prakash Media Director Quinn Whitman

Analyzing a Material Culture is a five-part special report on socio-economic class at ASL and its implications. The report examines classism’s presence at ASL and how it impacts students and the assumptions they have. Look out for the last part which will be coming out next week.

Due to perceived differences, Lancaster has noticed that students with greater economic privilege tend to distance themselves from others. “I think the people that [are wealthier] are being the judgmental ones and don’t take part in immersing themselves in the school culture,” she said.

Furthermore, Wolf remembers talking with former students, specifically seniors, about feeling isolated at ASL due to the ingrained financial expectations that Perelmuter also noticed. “Towards the end of their high school experience, the students started to feel really separated from their classmates,” Wolf said. “Their classmates would have these £1000 weekends where they would go to these clubs and they would unload all their money without even thinking about it.”

Landon has experienced similar situations to that described by Wolf, especially noting the challenge of finding enough money to spend with his friends. “It’s a little bit annoying sometimes when I see my friends drop £15 a day on food,” he said. “I realize that they don’t have to worry about making their money last.”

Despite the different experience Landon has from other students, he describes his friends to be supportive of him and his situation. “A lot of the time when I go out with a couple of my friends, I’ll say, ‘I can’t really go,’ because I don’t have that much money, but sometimes they will pitch in to help me go,” he said.

Alongside classism amongst students, World Languages and Cultures Teacher Lanting Xu believes that classism is present at ASL through other adult relationships in the school. “Something that really bothered me from the beginning was how we were treating the cleaners. I noticed that we ignored the cleaners and cafeteria staff when we saw each other in the hallway and in the cafeteria,” she said.

Xu acknowledges that while the relationship has gotten better over her time here, there is still an inequality in the treatment of staff by the faculty. “These sort of things are obvious, we treat people differently who we think occupy the less prestigious occupations on campus.”

Block has also noticed a similar divide within the school. “There can be social divides that exist between teachers, many of who come from or are living in fairly privileged circumstances, and some members of staff who may not have as much wealth at their disposal,” he said.  

Something that Xu believes that could combat classism would be to implement a system that was in place at one of her previous schools. “We had a gathering at one of my previous schools right before Christmas, where we would contribute some sort of cash gift to the cleaners,” she said. “We don’t seem to have a system at ASL to do so.”

Look out for the last part of this special report. Part 5: Financial Aid will be posted on Sunday, October 27.