The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Homeless College Students

Apr 16, 2018

More than one third of college students questioned in a survey said they did not have a stable home, and about one in eleven said they were homeless. The newly-published survey covered 43,000 students at 66 colleges in 20 states and Washington D.C., so these numbers point to a real, deep crisis that is prevalent across the U.S.

Similar surveys in recent years have yielded similar results. And the situation is worse at community colleges: 46 per cent, or nearly half, of the community college students surveyed said they had difficulty paying for housing. And that, too, is not a surprise. The proportion of students from a working-class background is higher at community colleges, because sky-rocketing tuition and other costs put four-year universities out of their reach. In other words, the crisis of poverty in colleges hits, first and foremost, the working class.

Students try to cope with homelessness in different ways, such as living in a shelter, “couch-surfing,” living in their cars or trying to catch sleep in empty buildings on the college campus. But dealing with housing issues, students often miss class and can’t concentrate on their studies. Especially since the same students often go hungry as well.

Even if they can escape homelessness and hunger, many working-class students have to spend long hours working while they go to school – which again makes it harder for them to complete their degrees.

In the end, all this means that working-class students often can’t get the college degree that they are told would help them out of poverty. It is the same old vicious cycle that traps workers, generation after generation, in a web of poverty and exploitation.

The only difference now is that a deep, lasting economic crisis has more openly exposed the age-old lie that, through education, capitalist society offers the working class a way to improve its condition.