Let’s have a talk about money. Some people — and some institutions — have a lot more of it than others. And the reasons why aren’t complicated.
Because of the Yale administration’s financial aid policies, some students have to find a way to make $6,400 each year to stay on good terms with this institution. These students’ lives are different from those whose privilege enables them to focus on other pursuits and worry less about money. Students have to struggle more to make ends meet because Yale refuses to eliminate the student income contribution.
And let’s talk about money in New Haven. A lot of people don’t have enough of it. More than a third of New Haven children are living below the poverty line. And the reasons why aren’t complicated. We have a jobs crisis. Nearly 20 percent of New Haven residents in communities of color are unemployed. These numbers are devastating, but they’re not surprising when you consider the fact that less than a quarter of the jobs in this city are held by people who live here.
Our status quo is one of extreme economic and racial inequality. The scale of the crisis is daunting. But I believe that change is actually possible.
This week, the Administration announced a $194 million budget surplus for the 2015 fiscal year. Our University has the opportunity to choose to use its wealth to serve the best interests of its students. Yale could eliminate the student income contribution and take a small step toward narrowing the wealth gap among its students.
As the largest employer in New Haven, Yale could choose to step up and be a leader in addressing the jobs crisis. Our University could hire more people from our neighborhoods of need into good jobs that anchor strong communities.
In my time as your alder, I’ve learned that the barriers to the world I want to live in are tall. We can’t scale them by changing a policy or passing a law. But when a lot of different people truly commit to working together, we can begin to dismantle them.
A few years ago, we didn’t have open conversations about Yale’s money the way we do now. Now students across campus are demanding that Yale take action to eliminate the student income contribution, divest from environmental destruction and invest in our cultural centers and mental health services.
Two years ago there wasn’t consensus across New Haven that we needed to address the jobs crisis. Now we’ve come together to establish New Haven Works, a jobs pipeline program that has placed over 600 residents into good jobs. Community members and elected officials are speaking with one voice to call on our large employers to step up and hire qualified New Haveners.
We’ve brought youth issues to the forefront and chosen to prioritize funding for youth violence prevention programming and investment in our youth spaces. Just this past spring we saw the election of the first ever student representatives on the Board of Education. Now we get to see what happens when the people affected by policies have a voice in making them.
I am honored and humbled to represent you on our Board of Alders and to serve alongside a remarkable group of individuals who are committed to fighting every day to change the status quo. It is also so meaningful to work together with Mayor Harp, who shares our vision of a New Haven where all people can thrive. Her belief that people should look out for one another and that ours should be a city that doesn’t leave anyone behind is inspiring.
She demonstrated incredible leadership in establishing Youth Stat four months into her first year of office. Youth Stat brings together all relevant city agencies to track young people at risk and intervene before more serious situations emerge. Coupled with our Board’s work on youth spaces and programming, we are expanding opportunities for young people in this city step by step.
The need for change is urgent. And the resources, both financial and human, are there. Let’s choose to reject the status quo. Let’s build one experience of prosperity and possibility for all people in our city.
Sarah Eidelson is a 2012 graduate of Jonathan Edwards College and the incumbent Ward 1 alder. Contact her at email@example.com .