An op-ed by Jessica Everett ’12 & Ricardo Zarate Jr. ’13
The community read of the “Beyond the Bowdoin Hello” event series invites us to examine whether social consciousness lapses close to home; are the people who allow our college to function, i.e. the house-keepers, facilities staff, groundskeepers and dining hall employees “nickel and dimed?”
Many community members have read Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America in anticipation of the discussion groups in the coming weeks. The text chronicles the experience of author Barbara Ehrenreich, an investigative journalist who left her life in the upper middle class to join the working poor. As she describes her experiment, Ehrenreich’s task was to move to a new area, find affordable housing and a job, and wait to see if she would be able to pay a second month’s rent. In Key West, Minneapolis, and Portland, Maine, Ehrenreich found that “getting by” on minimum wage was more challenging than she expected.