PBR, White-Trash Parties, and the “Ironic” Working-Class Aesthetic

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This past weekend I was invited to attend an off-campus party that I later found out was “White Trash” themed. Being the sociologically curious person that I am, I decided to attend this party (uncostumed) to see what there was to see.

The first thing I noticed was the costumes. To give a few sketches: fake pregnant women in skimpy dresses; white ribbed tank tops (also known offensively as “wife beaters”) and plaid shirts with cut-off sleeves; belly shirts with cut-off jeans and bright g-strings; copious amounts of tattoos (breast tattoos and armbands seemed especially popular, and lots of blonde wigs.

Most people I noticed were drinking PBR, MGD, or other cheap beers. In the kitchen there was a spread of McDonald’s french fries, s’mores, and what looked like refried bean dip or something like it. I’m not entirely sure if this was meant to go with the theme of the party or was just incidental.

The whole rise in popularity of PBR as beer for the “hipster” or college-aged crowd was recently written about at Sociological Images. You can read the entire post here.

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SACA Minutes // Tuesday, March 1, 2011

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Upcoming event! After Spring Break, we will be doing publicity for the classism workshop with Smith Alum Davey Shlasko. Look for a Facebook event sometime soon!

We’re still in talks with other organizations to do a Speak Out on diversity issues on campus. If you’re interested, let us know!

The protest with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers this past Sunday in Boston was great. Over 900 people showed up. Watch a video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiLjPf7M3Ks

Daryl from the CDO is still interested in us and wants to host a panel for graduate school/life after Smith for low-income and/or first-generation students!

We were interviewed by the Sophian. Keep an eye out!

SACA Minutes // Tuesday, February 8, 2011

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• Introductions
• Why are we here?
• What do we want to see done this semester?
o Have more of a presense on campus.
o Some academic programs here at Smith require you to take an unpaid internship, which not everyone has the privilege of being able to do.
o If Praxis is thereoretically available to ALL students and not all students use theirs, why should students, specifically of high financial need, not be able to get a second Praxis?
o Aside from all the unpaid, corporate internships the CDO e-mails us, they need to e-mail us more internships that are non-corporate and paid.
o Draft a letter for the CDO about issues we have with their failure to be sufficiently helpful to lower-income students.
o Bring someone from Admissions in and talk with them about how decisions are made in regard to socio-economic status of students. What role does legacy play and to what extent?
o Create a list of sympthatic professors.
o Go into high schools around the area and talk to students about college decisions coming from a low-income background. Find a list of scholarship opportunities for students in the area?
o Regularly attend the Campus Climate Open Forums to hold Smith accountable for its promises.
o Sneak into the MoHo and Smith archives to find out information about past class activism organizations.
o Workshops with the Center for Popular Economics and Smith Alum Davey Shlasko
o Post-secret to gather impressions of class on campus and raise issues (maybe put a box outside SFS)
o Post on Smithie Complaints or create our own Tumblr.
o Mailing students on our work-study e-mail list?
o Open Mic Speak Out to raise class consciousness
o Funds for events with our houses so that everyone can be involved in house community?
o Showing the documentary to houses or going to house teas
o Work with other orgs to share our concerns

SACA Minutes // Tuesday, November 30, 2010

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SACA Minutes Tuesday, 11/30/2010
• Events for next semester:
o SACA Post Secret
o Popular economics?
o T-shirts?
o Tyrone from enoughenough.org
o Manifesto!
• Let’s get together over J-Term (those of us who are here) to really get things rolling!
• We’re hoping to start collaborating more with other orgs on campus.
• Association of Working Class Academics (AWCA) wants to know what they can do to encourage students at their schools to start orgs like SACA.
• We need to check with the school to see if we can let other organizations buy copies of the documentary.
• We’re having food at our next meeting, Tuesday December 7! Come destress, even if you haven’t been to a meeting before!

SACA Minutes // Tuesday, November 16, 2010

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SACA Minutes // Tuesday, November 16, 2010
• We’re hoping to become more involved with the Ada Comstock Scholars
• Workshop was a success!
o At Smith, it is easy to take a lot of things for granted (i.e. that you have money and resources available) or ignored
o Smith is too polite in terms of talking about socio-economic class, even though it oppresses so many people. We’re too afraid to offend people.
• Nolan Arts Lounge Project ideas for next year – theme: home, but how do we express the socio-economic diversity at Smith without sending a message of exceptionalism?
• Any ideas for events? We’re planning for next semester!
• We plan to bring Davey back next semester for a day-long workshop, hopefully we can propose it as an institutionalized event including diversity reps and res life.
• We want to facilitate a discussion with the administration so that we can show that we are another minority voice on campus that needs to be heard. We want faculty to gain more consciousness of the socio-economic diversity on campus due to numerous insensitive comments that have been made (i.e. complaining about your salary in front of students who may have never known what it would be like to live in a household with even HALF of a professor’s salary).

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Hey everyone,

Tonight I went to a meeting facilitated by Jon Weissman from Western Mass Jobs with Justice. We are trying to start a chapter of the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) in this area. I went to the meeting and represented SACA. This is really exciting news! If we can get this SLAP chapter established, be prepared for a lot more activism!

Here are some notes from the meeting:

We’ll meet the 2nd Thursday of every month. Right now meetings are at Mt. Holyoke, Blanchard Campus Center, Room 318, 7:00-8:30pm. Everyone is welcome. Next meeting is December 9th.

 

Goal 1: Raise money so that we can have an organizer go to all 18 colleges involved in the area. This will be much easier than trying to get a representative from each college at one meeting. If we have an organizer, they can go to each individual college, meet with the SLAPtivists (as they call it!), and keep us up-to-date on what is going on with the organization.

 
Goal 2: If a labor union approaches SLAP, we (the students) will be there to lend our support to help organize and support the fight.

 
We talked about Sodexo and their impact in this area. This is my understanding: Sodexo is a company that many colleges in the area use to contract out their dining service workers (Smith is not one of those colleges). Local SEIU 615 is working to raise wages and working conditions for workers who are under Sodexo’s contract. They are also trying to change the contract Sodexo has with its workers to a global contract (this is used with Sodexo employees in Europe). The global contract is more humane for workers because it ensures that they cannot be fired or harassed for joining a union. They are also trying to draft a responsible contractor policy.

 
Cleveland, OH (Evergreen Corporative) has been moving towards using more locally owned and operated services for some of their major corporations. For example, hiring a worker-owned laundry service. We’d love to see an initiative like this in MA.

 
The Center for Popular Economics is an organization at UMass that hosts workshops about the economy and how to negotiate from a working-class perspective. They help people who are fighting for economic justice by examining the roots of economic inequality.

 

Have a good weekend! See you at the Workshop on Monday! November 15, 6:30-8:30, CC 102. Let’s learn about classism at Smith!

-Emily Huesman

SACA Minutes // November 2, 1010

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• We made posters last week!
• Class workshop on Monday, November 15, 2010! From 6:30-8:30 in CC 102 with Smith Alum Davey Shlasko. This is a workshop to understand what class is, how it works, and how it affects relationships on campus.
• Association of Working Class Academics is going to have a conference at Furman College in South Carolina. Time is TBA. They’re very excited to have us there, so hopefully we can get funding from Smith to go!
• Next Tuesday at 7:30 in the Neilson Browsing Room there is an event about the campaign from over the summer about the events that happened over the summer with the dining and housing staff at Smith. Housing and dining were supposed to get raises this summer, but they did not. (Support Smith Women Workers Now!)
• We will be making posters for the Class Workshop mentioned above on this Sunday (11/7) at noon in Baldwin living room.
• Lisa Daniels came to SACA about a potential project. She is organizing a school supply drive for the lower-income school district she works for. SACA is going to work with her to support this drive. This school is a Level 4 school, meaning they are one level away from being taken over by the state, so this school supply drive is incredibly important.
• Winter coat/clothing drive starting on Thursday (November 4) to benefit families in Springfield, MA. Look for boxes in your houses.
• Deconstructing the front page of the Diversity handout (located in the Admissions Office) is very…interesting.

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