Category Archives: News

Low-Income Students Face Extra Hurdles In School Disruption

By Kayla Bey

Lilburn, GA.

Mauricio Vazquez, a 19-year-old rising sophomore at Chapman University and Princeton Summer Journalism Program alum, was alarmed when he logged onto his computer days before finals week and saw he had an F in his class. After switching his evaluation from letter grades to pass/fail, Vazquez ended up barely passing. But he considers the effort he put into that class a success. After all, he managed to pass despite the challenges of learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

This spring, colleges across the country announced a sweeping transition to online learning. At Harvard, those who left campus for spring break would not return. “They said that by Sunday everybody had to leave,” said Ryan Morillo, a Harvard
freshman and PSJP alum. “Everybody was scrambling. Nobody knew how they were going to pay for flights home, or storage.”

The sudden disruption of higher education has been especially challenging for low-income students. Kay-Ann Henry, a 21-year-old PSJP alum entering her senior year at University of Miami, says her campus urged her to stay home. However, the reality of “home” for many low-income students can be hostile—and on-campus living, a survival mechanism. “I was going through a family situation, so it wasn’t [in] my best interest to go back home,” said Henry, who was able to secure housing in the University of Miami’s
student apartments.

Morillo didn’t have the same opportunity, having already booked a plane ticket home. “Once I started classes at home, it was horrible,” he said. Around the clock, his parents would ask for help around the house. In between those moments, “I’m studying in the same room that I sleep in, and everything is like a sense of procrastination,” he said.

“I don’t go outside,” said Henry, noting the recent spike in Florida coronavirus cases. Despite living in University of Miami housing, “I wasn’t really seeing people in the other apartments. One of my suitemates stayed [on campus] because she worked security, but I would hardly see her. She would be working so much.”

Henry once thought she would appreciate remote learning. She does not. “I definitely miss that social aspect. There’s just some classes that work better in person.”

Morillo agrees. Though he appreciates Harvard’s mandatory pass/fail policy to mitigate the consequences of a “rough transition,” Morillo is now worried about how his transcript will affect his graduate school applications. “Not all schools did that,” he said.
“It’s going to weigh in in the future.” Graduating college on time is an integral component of that future, especially when low-income students are more likely to leave college regardless of a global pandemic.

M, a 19-year-old rising sophomore at Arizona State University, is an undocumented immigrant. Despite living so close to campus that she commutes there, her undocumented status would force her to pay out-of-state tuition if she was without a full-ride scholarship.

M can’t imagine taking a gap year, never mind the thought of leaving school entirely. “My scholarships are also strictly for four years. I know I talked about it with my friends,” she said. “For them [taking a semester off] was an option, but, for me, because
of my scholarship, it wasn’t really an option.”

But while the coronavirus has upended higher education, especially for low-income students, there are some upsides to studying during a pandemic.

“Doing school right now is difficult, but it’s keeping me busy,” said Vazquez. “It’s given me something else to think about other than everything else going on in the world, and I very much need a distraction.”


Eviction Lab Aims To Help Renters

By Isaac Monks

Tahlequah, OK

One day in March 2016, V arrived home to see an eviction notice on the doorstep of her
apartment in New Jersey. She frantically threw her personal belongings in bags to take with her. While collecting her belongings, she heard a faint police siren on its way to lock her out of the home she’d centered her life around.

This was not the first time V had been evicted. In 2011, V lived with her now-husband and friends in New York during her sophomore year in college. She came home from long school days and worked to make ends meet. V felt successful. But her suitemates struggled to pay rent and fell behind. Months later, V’s suitemates told her they had to move out that night. Feeling distraught, V and her boyfriend quickly packed up their items.

V saw this as a minor setback, but her second encounter with eviction in 2016 would make it much harder for her to find shelter. She was living in an apartment with her
husband and child. “I was working in a temp job, and I wound up losing the job,” she said.

This time, unlike in 2011, her name was on the lease, and she was liable for late payments. V quickly threw her family’s belongings on the street, losing all her furniture, most of her family’s clothes, and countless irreplaceable photos.

With V’s new tarnished housing record, her family house-jumped between friends and family for months, because they were unable to find stable housing as a result of her bad record. V was blacklisted by landlords in the Trenton suburbs, making her family move to inner-city Trenton. “The apartments kept getting worse and worse,” V recalls, describing how the spaces her family lived in got smaller as they were pushed into less safe neighborhoods.

After almost a year, V was able to secure an office job with the county welfare agency. Having a regular paycheck allowed her to rent an apartment in inner-city Trenton. Still, she says the two evictions shaped her in permanent ways. “It made me more motivated to find gainful employment,” she says. “Before, we could stay on a friend’s pullout couch … I have children now, and where would we go, if I don’t have a home?”

Not every eviction has to be a punishing cycle like V’s. Princeton’s Eviction Lab team has been collecting data on eviction and its causes to better understand what policies can prevent evictions and help people escape the trap of homelessness and poverty. They have found that an increase in filing fees for landlords would decrease the number of evictions they set in motion.

The researchers also suggest that tenants should have a right to counsel. “In zip codes where this policy was enacted, we saw a dramatic decline in evictions,” said Joe Fish, a research specialist for the Eviction Lab. “A right to counsel levels the playing field and gives tenants a fighting chance.” Rent control and housing vouchers can also help, Fish added.

The Eviction Lab reports that the majority of poor renting families in America spend over half of their income on housing, and more Americans are being evicted than ever before, trapping people like V in an endless cycle. But while V may have been a victim of eviction, she remains hopeful for her family’s future in their new Trenton apartment.

Asian Discrimination Hits New Peaks In Pandemic Era

By Aigner Settles

Pennsauken, N.J.

It was an early June morning when Nicholas Wu, 24, decided to go for a casual jog in
Washington D.C. Wu had been jogging by himself with his headphones, when he was suddenly disrupted by an older Caucasian woman screaming at him to stay away.

He had not approached the woman, nor had he been any closer than six feet because of social distancing, but the woman continued to shout until he had passed her.

Moments later, another jogger passed the same woman, but came in closer distance than
Wu had. However, the woman seemed to not give the jogger a second thought. The only visible difference between Wu and the second jogger were that he was Asian, while the other person was white.

“I decided not to engage and kept going. I stopped a little bit further down to catch my breath, looked back and saw a white woman pass within two feet of this person and there was no reaction,” he recalled.

Since the nation’s shutdown in early March to slow the spread of COVID-19, Asian Americans have faced an increase in discrimination. The virus originated in Wuhan, China, and much of the recent racism comes as a result of people blaming Asians for the spread of the coronavirus.

As of July, nearly 40 percent of Asian Americans have reported negative experiences because of their race over the course of the pandemic, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Within a month of the pandemic’s sweep across the nation, the Stop Asian American and Pacific Islander Hate Reporting Center collected more than 1,500 reports of racially charged violence against Asian Americans, though there are likely many more cases.

“Because there’s been such underreporting of hate-related incidents, the data is dodgy,” said Wu, a Chinese-American reporter for USA Today. “We know this is happening, but the magnitude is tricky to measure.” Wu describes the surge in these instances as “concerning, annoying, and saddening in many ways.”

Many attribute the rise in discrimination to President Trump, who has publicly referred to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” and “Kung Flu” multiple times. He’s since stated that the alternative names for coronavirus were meant to reference where the virus originated, rather than the people themselves. However, the phrases have already proved to be problematic for the Asian community as a whole.

“The disease itself doesn’t discriminate, but people often do, and the fact that our nation-
al leader is coming on T.V., on the media and saying that has ripple effects,” said Audrey Pan, an organizer for Revolutionizing Asian American Immigrant Stories On the East
Coast (RAISE), a youth group that advocates for undocumented Asian immigrants.

“A lot of people might think that it’s okay to say, but those racist remarks have real physical implications for people. People have been beaten up, people have been kicked out of stores, not let into public places because of this type of language,” she added.

Mos Neammanee, 22, a member of RAISE, has been a victim of anti-Asian discrimination as well. “In person, I’ve experienced [it] mainly when I commute to school,” he said. “A lot of people, I’ve noticed when the pandemic hit, tried to avoid me … I still remember this one guy said, ‘Why are they letting these people into the country?’”

Asian American organizations have launched campaigns to bring attention to the growing harassment, including the NEA Asian and Pacific Islander Caucus’s “I Am Not a Virus” campaign and the IW Group’s #WashtheHate hashtag. U.S. Rep. Grace Meng
from New York’s 6th District introduced legislation to combat discrimination amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Though instances of blatant racism towards Asian Americans have increased since the beginning of the pandemic, they are not new to American history.

“COVID has acted as an accelerant on existing inequities in American life,” said Wu. “Asian Americans simply seem to be a part of that.”

Pandemic Boosts Pet Adoptions

Credit_ Laura Wagner image7Jake, a Jindo terrier mix, has been treated to longer walks with his owner, Laura Wagner, during the pandemic. (Photo by Laura Wagner)

By Chastina Simmons and Sarah Furtado

Stone Mountain, Ga. and Vero Beach, Fla.

The global pandemic caused by the coronavirus has hit everyone like a truck. Health scares, quarantines, and school closings are changing the lives of millions of humans. But there is another, less-talked about population that’s also being affected: pets.

Right now, because of quarantine, many people are stuck at home with more free time than we used to have. Many are filling this void by adopting pets.

“They’re flying out the doors, not in,” said Jill Van Tuyl, the director of shelter operations at SAVE, a shelter for homeless dogs and cats in Skillman, New Jersey. From her experience, she noted that more people are considering adopting cats and dogs during the pandemic.

“Because of COVID and so many adoptions, right now, a good portion of my day is dedicated to scheduling transports to bring animals in and also reviewing adoption applications for potential adopters,” Van Tuyl said. Both sides benefit: The new owners get an addition to the family, and these animals get a start to a new, and most likely better, life.

Credit_ @furio_gram on Insta 1

Furio, a Shiba Inu mix, lives with Kate Knibbs in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Photo by Kate Knibbs)

Laura Wagner and Kate Knibbs of Brooklyn, New York, have recently adopted puppies during this pandemic. However, the process of adopting their pets wasn’t easy. According to Wagner, “because everyone was trying to adopt dogs during quarantine, it was really difficult to get a dog or even get an interview with the various different rescues in Brooklyn.”

Although the adoption process was lengthy, both owners thought the pets were worth it.

In addition to offering companionship, Wagner said that having a dog helped her physical health. Every morning, Wagner takes her Jindo terrier mix, Jake, for a long walk.

“I went from averaging 700 steps a day to averaging 15,000 steps a day,” she said. “Your physical health is tied to your mental health, so definitely being more active is good.” She also noted that just cuddling with her dog during her breaks helped lift her mood.

Knibbs’ Shiba Inu mix, Furio, also keeps her spirits lifted despite demanding quite a bit of work. “I mean, it’s pretty hard to stay in bed when there’s this incredibly cute creature who needs your attention,” she said.

Cute creatures don’t just include dogs.

Credit_ @freddieyourbeardie on Insta

Zimmerman’s bearded dragon, Freddie, sunbathing. (Photo by Kier Zimmerman)

During these long, lonely months of quarantine, Kier Zimmerman was thankful to have a new bearded dragon lizard as a friend. “They like to be cuddled, they like to hang out. They’re very social, and they’re very easy,” said Zimmerman, a recent Harvard graduate cooped up at their parents’ home in Minnesota.

Their lizard, Freddie, has a compact build, a sand-colored complexion, and an apparent love of the TV show “American Horror Story.” “He will fall asleep on me or in my hand a lot, which is very cute,” Zimmerman said. “And he nuzzles into the corner of my hand and tries to bury himself in there.”

In a world in turmoil, these pets offer refuge to their owners. That’s apparent watching Zimmerman and Freddie. Zimmerman cradled their bearded dragon and reassured him: “Calm down. It’s OK.”

As Pandemic Threatens Pocketbooks, Black Activists Promote ‘Mutual Aid’


Jessica Gordon Nembhard

By Daniel Sanchez

Boca Raton, Fla.

A natural opening for this story might have been focused on an individual, a relatable human being who was assisted by a mutual aid fund. But focusing on just one person would defeat the purpose of looking at a cooperative economic initiative.

Jessica Gordon Nembhard, an economics professor at John Jay College specializing in community-based approaches to justice, views mutual aid funds as precursors to cooperative economic systems. The difference? Mutual aid funds have been practiced by “every population in the world … continuously,” she said.

Nembhard describes mutual aid funds as informal collections of money that are distributed to the community based on need. Each member of the group contributes through dues, with people designated to oversee the fund. They are usually specialized for specific circumstances, such as to pay health care bills or to plan funerals. The story of these grassroots programs spans generations, and continues to subvert traditional economic norms to provide opportunities to members of historically disenfranchised groups.

Founded in 1966, the Black Panther Party developed social programs like the Black Panthers’ Free Breakfast for School Children Program, which gave free breakfast to tens of thousands of children in underserved communities. They also had cooperative housing for the homeless in the surrounding communities of local chapters. Nembhard said there are not many historical examples of large organizations like the Black Panthers using “humane economics.”

A major reason why, according to Nembhard, is because productivity threatens the system. “If we show this system works well, why would you want to exist in a capitalist society?” Nembhard asked.

Now, young Black activists are picking up the gauntlet thrown down by their predecessors.

Red curtains framed the lightning bolts hitting New York as Tropical Storm Isaias passed the Northeast coast. Diligently answering questions while glancing at hurricane warnings on their phone, Asanni Armon explained their passion for assisting the LGBTQ+ and Black communities.

A 2017 Princeton graduate, Armon founded the organization For The Gworls, which raises money for Black trans people for rent and gender-affirmation surgeries. Their method for fundraising is throwing rent parties that generate revenue. In this sense, For The Gworls is a textbook mutual aid fund, one that focuses on a specific problem faced by minority residents in New York. Armon receives applications for aid and accepts everyone who fits within the scope of the organization.

However, Armon is adamant about preserving solidarity within the organization, a guiding principle which differentiates it from the non- profit industrial complex. “I don’t want to play into that,” Armon said, referencing non-profit organizations that attempt to ensure the fiscal responsibility of those to whom they provide funding. Instead, they trust the word of those who apply for assistance. Armon’s goal is to grow For The Gworls, but only in a sustainable way that ensures a community, people-centered approach.

With a pandemic and protests for racial equality raging throughout the United States, many people view mutual aid funds as a way to contribute to improving their community. “We got this boost [in fun- draising] in June,” Armon said, when protests and recent killings of Black Americans pressured many to consider their values. Now they hope the donations will continue throughout the year, as racism is an ongoing, systemic issue.



Asanni Armon (L.) founded a mutual aid group that provides financial assistance for rent and gender-affirming surgery.

By Abednego Togas

Silver Spring, MD.

Asanni Armon did not know what to do when their two friends were facing eviction in late June 2019. With roommates of their own, Armon had no room to house additional people, so in an effort to help their struggling friends, they devised a collective way to provide immediate assistance.

Pooling resources, Armon put together a 4th of July party that required a fee of five dollars to enter. The money would then go directly to Armon’s friends, all of whom are Black and transgender. “The rest was history,” Armon said.

Armon’s strategy of hosting New York City ‘rent parties’ to raise funds to put directly into struggling Black trans people’s pockets continued to take place well after their July 4th occasion. Armon’s initial party led to the creation of the For the Gworls fund, an assistance program that fundraises money for rent and gender- affirming surgery.

For the Gworls is an example of mutual aid funding, a method of collectively raising money or pooling resources for the benefit of a community. Mutual aid funds are often relief efforts that take place after a sudden natural disaster, and focus on collecting resources such as water after an earthquake or masks during a pandemic.

Mutual aid has been predominantly used by marginalized groups to address and alleviate ongoing social needs. The Black Panther Party’s Survival Programs, for example, provided services such as free breakfast for children, and funded community health clinics to combat socioeconomic disparities in the Black community.

Jessica Gordon Nembhard, professor at John Jay College, specializes in community economics and says that collective efforts like For the Gworls often come about from mainstream society’s neglect of marginalized groups. “The reason why most people start cooperatives … is because whatever was the norm, the mainstream, wasn’t doing what was needed,” Nembhard said.

A r m o n founded the For the Gworls mutual aid fund after facing discrimination in the workplace because, to their knowledge, there was no sustainable form of assistance for Black trans people. “When I started this last year, there was nobody else in New York doing this work,” Armon said. “People had been crowdfunding for individuals… but it was never a sustained effort.”

Unlike charities, nonprofit organizations, or other forms of assistance, For the Gworls puts money directly into recipients’ pockets with little to no follow-up because their main purpose is to help struggling Black trans people, and not to provide care with strict stipulations. “We should be trying to move away from that and move towards just radically caring about someone,” Armon said.

Mutual aid is also dissimilar from other methods of fundraising due to its collective and collaborative nature, historically forming out of a collective feeling of frustration due to economic discrimination and segregation. “It’s the racism, it’s the economic discrimination … in almost every case African-American people were excluded from something or marginalized by something,” Gordon Nembhard said. “A lot of the housing co-ops started because African-Americans couldn’t get access to housing.”

Instead of operating as a stringent corporation, mutual aid goes against capitalism and involves a community coming together and solving immediate problems to remedy each other’s needs. “Mutual aid to me is, at its core, very anti-capitalist,” Armon said.

The rise of COVID-19 has disrupted the Gworls’ rent parties, but Armon continues to crowdfund on social media, garnering the attention of several mainstream celebrities. COVID-19 and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in June have also led to a host of other mutual aid funds being created to address community issues.

But for Armon, the sole existence of mutual aid highlights a society’s failure to provide resources to all of its members. Until Black trans people are provided the same protections and support as others, Armon will continue to run For the Gworls to help their community.

“We are here, helping each other in the ways that we need to help each other, showing up for each other the way that we need to show up for each other,” Armon said.

Is philosophy dead?

Credit K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash
K. Mitch Hodge

By Stephanie Garcia

Bronx, N.Y.

It is human nature to question what is around us. In the ancient world, questioning and seeking answers to life’s mysteries was met with mixed opinions. Nonetheless, the contributions of these philosophers are valuable to our contemporary society. They ultimately paved the way for intellectual curiosity.

The question now is whether the study of philosophy is still relevant in our science-based society. Today, philosophy may not be as highly valued as science, but does that mean it should die off?

“It’s still relevant,” said Daniel Dorsey, a philosophy enthusiast from New York City. “But it’s slowly dying because some people aren’t using their brains to question the world around them — something that is necessary for philosophy.” He believes that philosophy is still relevant in our personal lives rather than in society more generally.

Teniesea Russell from New York City is a college advisor who chooses to live by a wide range of her own personal philosophies. Her beliefs regarding the subject differ from Dorsey’s. She believes that she and many others use philosophy on a daily basis and that it cannot easily die off because of its relevance to our lives.


Teniesea Russell

Russell elaborated: “Some individuals like referring back to historically popular statements conveyed by philosophers concerning morals or virtues such as ‘patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet,’ which derives from a philosophical notion. We still talk about philosophers like Aristotle and sometimes apply their ways of thinking in our society or lives.”

While some people, like Dorsey, argue that philosophy is at risk of dying, there are others who say that it is already dead. In an interview from 2011, Stephen Hawking claimed that philosophy is dead because of its inability to catch up with science, which Hawking called “the torch for discovery.” However, he then went on to say that while philosophy may no longer be able to discover anything new, “it is still relevant in people’s day-to-day lives.”

Hawking’s claims about philosophy’s contemporary significance seem to contradict one another, but they do raise a question: Has science replaced philosophy? Both fields push us to question our world, yet science focuses more on actually finding answers.

Dorsey emphasized that in order to progress, it is important to “question why things exist, like a philosopher, and then find answers to anything and everything that can be answered, much like scientists do.” He concluded, “in order to progress, both must coexist.”

Russell believes in the application of philosophy to science, particularly when developing sentient technologies such as artificial intelligence. “I believe we still need both because they provide different aspects of thinking,” she explained. “By having philosophical thoughts, we can continue to use science to get into the microscopic details surrounding these thoughts, which can pave the way for more scientific achievements.”

It is likely that philosophy will always be a part of society due to our natural curiosity. Science relies on philosophy to provide some of the ethics surrounding our new scientific endeavors and it is likely that philosophy will transcend into a new field of study: one vital to the ethics behind scientific progression and societal life. As long as these questions are asked and explored, philosophy may never truly die.

Asians Face Growing Racism

nicholas wu sjpNicholas Wu (l.), a reporter with USA Today, was accosted while running on the National Mall.

By Stephen Kim

Los Angeles, Calif.

Nicholas Wu was on a morning run on the National Mall when a woman started shouting at him. “Stay away, stay away, stay away,” Wu recalled her yelling. But when a
white person ran by her—much closer than Wu had—she made no similar comments.

These days, Wu said, he gets weird looks and people moving away on the subway. Other Asian Americans have experienced even worse treatment amid the COVID-19 pandemic: physical altercations, racist slurs, and other racially motivated, hateful incidents.

“COVID has acted as an accelerant on existing inequities in American life,” said Wu, a 24-year-old congressional reporter for USA Today. He attributes it to the “forever foreigner” phenomenon: Even if Asian Americans were born in the United States, they will always be considered an “other,” a foreigner, in this country. No matter the hard work they may do, the amazing accomplishments and successes they may achieve, Asians in this country will never be identified as “real Americans.”

Growing up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, Wu was one of few Asians in a predominantly white part of town. “Teach us kung fu,” kids would say to him. They chanted “ching chong ching ling” when imitating speaking Mandarin. Wu was even asked if he was adopted because the only other Asian kids his classmates knew were adopted into white families.

Racism against Asians in both explicit and implicit forms has been present in this country ever since the first Chinese immigrants came across the Pacific to build the

Mos Neammanee commutes to class at Rutgers by public transportation. But in the wake of COVID-19, he has sensed a difference in the treatment from fellow students. As he entered the bus, and tried to find a seat on his way to class, he overheard a fellow pas-
senger saying, “Why are they letting these people into the country?” People routinely seemed uncomfortable with the presence of Neammanee on public transport, he says.

He chuckled as he recounted these memories in a Zoom call, but he acknowledges that they put great strain on him. Neammanee is an active member of an organization called RAISE that advocates for young Asians who are undocumented and trying to apply for DACA status, and a DACA recipient himself. When he encounters people like the man on the bus on his way to school, it adds additional insecurity and anxiety on top of his undocumented status, which has been the subject of controversy under the Trump administration.

Twenty-three-year-old community organizer Audrey Pan works with Neammanee at RAISE. While Pan said she doesn’t experience explicit racism, she does feel “hyper-visible,” she said. She experiences the “feeling of people watching” when she goes outside. If she wears a face mask, people stare at her. If she doesn’t, the same thing

Pan agreed that the “accelerant” of COVID-19 has accentuated the feeling of otherness experienced by Asian Americans.

Students Face Abrupt Trips Home After Virus Strikes

By Lia Opperman

Galloway, N.J.

Over the past five months, COVID-19 has disrupted millions of American lives. But college students were hit especially hard: They were forced to rush out of their dorms and adapt to a new, virtual experience. Low-income students, even those at Harvard University, scrambled to find affordable flights, housing, and storage with little notice.

On March 10, Ryan Morillo, a Harvard freshman and Princeton Summer
Journalism Program alum, was about to walk to class when he received the email
that brought his short-lived time on campus to a halt. Harvard was canceling in-
person classes. “Everything was kind of rushed,” he said. “We were kicked out
on a Tuesday, and they said that by Sunday, everybody had to leave.”

Harvard’s spring break was scheduled a week after in-person classes were canceled, so Morillo already had a flight booked home to Miami. He still felt that the university’s last-minute message was irresponsible. “It was very abrupt the way they did it. And it was just kind of scary.”

Daniel Lobo, president of the group First Generation Harvard Alumni, said that the pandemic has put campus inequalities in sharp relief. “This whole experience is just a
reminder that low-income students don’t have as many resources and the form of disposable income to get through this sort of crisis,” he said.

In response to the Harvard campus emptying out, the group launched a relief grant program for low-income, first-generation undergraduates. Lobo realized that many
students didn’t have a safe home to go to and needed alternate accommodations. He also knew that some needed to store their belongings, but couldn’t afford to pay for storage.

“We had alumni volunteering to open up their homes to students to let them stay with them until they could figure out more permanent accommodations,” he said.

Eventually, the university began providing students with storage, boxes, and alternate lodging, arranging for some to remain on campus if they had no other option.

“The school was generous enough to cover the cost of storage,” Morillo said. “They took care of a lot of expenses and then eventually gave the students a partial refund on room and board [and] tuition.”

For the fall, Morillo has decided to accept a $5,000 stipend that Harvard is offering to students who choose not to move back to campus in the fall.

“To me, as a very low-income student, it’s a lot of money,” he said. “It kind of incentivizes me to stay home, even though that’s really damaging to education.”

As Virus Rages, Essential Workers Seek Protection

willy solis essential workersWilly Solis has spearheaded the Gig Workers Collective, which seeks to organize Shipt, Instacart, Lyft, and other gig platforms.

By Brianne LaBare

Orlando, Fla.

Every morning, Willy Solis, a worker for Target’s Shipt delivery app, wipes down his dashboard and steering wheel with disinfectant wipes and slips on his gloves and mask, which he bought himself.

Then Solis drives to the grocery store, discards his used gloves in a garbage bag, and heads inside to begin filling orders.

At a time when essential workers are going above and beyond to serve the public, Solis can’t help but think about the hardships working for Shipt has brought upon him. Or the trash bag of used gloves sitting in his backseat.

Because of this, Solis has spearheaded the Gig Workers Collective, which includes workers for Shipt, Instacart, Lyft, and other gig platforms. Their main demand is that corporations provide personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, to help keep them safe.

“The major thing that shoppers try to do is make sure that they wear the proper PPE and have it at all times,” Solis said. “We have been providing that for ourselves for the most part during the pandemic, and a large majority of shoppers do express concern about spreading it to customers or to their families. That’s a major concern for us.”

In a statement to The Princeton Summer Journal, a Shipt spokesperson disputed this, saying shoppers can pick up face masks and gloves from their local Target store for free.

Concerns about safety span many essential jobs. Ada Fuentes is a senior membership organizer from Jobs with Justice, a nonprofit that advocates for worker rights. She
said Uber drivers were informed via email that they would get PPE. But many drivers were unable to access the equipment because Uber’s in-person driver help centers were closed due to the pandemic.

Uber said in a statement that drivers could request masks and sanitizer by mail or pick them up at reopened Greenlight Hubs. The company added that it had distributed more than 9 million masks, wipes, and containers of hand sanitizer, and that it had “never run
out of supplies.”

Still, through social media coverage, blog posts, and advocacy efforts, stories about mis-
treated essential workers abound. Solis of the Gig Workers Collective said that, during the pandemic, Shipt even made a temporary pay cut permanent. (The company said that, under its “updated pay model,” shopper base pay in most metro areas has remained the same, or even increased.)

“The CEOs of these companies are definitely not the ones out there doing this job on a daily basis and exposing themselves and their families to this,” Solis said. As for their treatment of the people who are: “to put it bluntly, it’s despicable.”

Gen. Z Gives Biden’s Run Tepid Support

By Angie Cisneros and Daniel Sanchez

Minneapolis, Minn. and Boca Raton, Fla.

Most teenagers may not be eligible to vote, but Generation Z has increasing influence on the policies of both parties, especially those of Democrats. In interviews with four high school students who are part of the Princeton Summer Journalism Program, the clear consensus was that young people are putting their support behind Joe Biden for one major reason: He is not Donald Trump.

Sitting in her home in Boston, 17-year-old Paola Ruiz put it simply: “We have to vote for the lesser of two evils.” Ruiz called Biden “chemotherapy” for the “cancer” caused by the current administration.

Other teenagers had similar views of Biden, both as an individual and as a candidate. Sofia Barnett, a 17-year-old from Frisco, Texas, rattled off what she finds distasteful about Biden, from his 1994 crime bill to the sexual assault allegations made against him. However, when asked who she would vote for, she stood by the Democratic nominee.

Kayla Bey, a 17-year-old from Lilburn, Georgia, said Biden alienated her when he said on a radio program that if you vote for Trump, you “ain’t Black.”

“I just feel like the Black community has gone through so much; I think it was entitled
for him to say that,” Bey said, suggesting such comments may have dampened enthusiasm for Biden.

The teenagers were adamant about their desire to elect more progressive figures. “I was a big Bernie supporter,” said 17-year-old Andrea Plascencia from Flower Mound, Texas—a view echoed by her peers.

Bey mentioned Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat known for supporting the legalization of marijuana and raising the minimum wage.

But after their preferred candidates dropped out of the primary, students have tried to find the same ideals in the presumptive nominee. Bey suggested that Biden would be more palatable if he more strongly advocated for expansion in health care. Ruiz, meanwhile, called on Biden to offer free college for all and debt relief, while Plascencia said she hoped he “can advocate for equality” through policies that benefit people from low-income backgrounds.

All of the students interviewed viewed Biden as an “intermediate” president, one who would work to bring the country back to a normality present before the Trump era.

Jariel Christopher, an 18-year-old from Port Allen, Louisiana, summed it up by saying the strongest argument she saw for Biden is that she foresees more chaos in the country if Trump is reelected.