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更新时间:2019/4/4 19:21:18 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

What’s Life Like as a Student at U.S.C.? Depends on the Size of the Bank Account

LOS ANGELES — Spring breaks in Bali, resort-style apartment buildings with rooftop pools and tanning beds and regular dinners out at Nobu, where a tab for four roommates could easily stretch into four digits. This is life as a student at the University of Southern California.

洛杉矶——去巴厘岛休春假;住在带屋顶泳池、日光浴床的度假村风格公寓楼;时常去Nobu餐厅——那里四位室友吃一顿账单很容易就到四位数。这是南加州大学(University of Southern California)学生的生活。

This is also life as a U.S.C. student: working an overnight shift to earn money for books, going hungry when the campus meal plan runs out and seething as friends presume that a $20 glass of wine is affordable.


The divide between rich and poor students could hardly be more vivid than it is at U.S.C., where the children of celebrities and real estate moguls study alongside the children of nannies and dishwashers.


Now, the college admissions bribery scheme, which has ensnared dozens of wealthy parents accused of bribing their children’s way into U.S.C., has brought renewed attention to class divides on campus — and how different the student experience can be depending on the size of the bank account.


“U.S.C. tries to paint the campus as this beautiful place to enjoy and relish in abundance,” said Oliver Bentley, a sophomore who is among the first in his family to attend college. “There’s this idea that once you enter U.S.C., you’re all on the same playing field. That in and of itself is a lie. I have met these rich kids who have so much that I can’t comprehend, doing things that I can’t fathom.”

“南加大试图把校园描绘为一个可以尽情享受与品味富足的地方,”大二学生奥利弗·宾利(Oliver Bentley)说,他是家里的第一个大学生。“存在这样一种观念,就是一旦进入南加大,大家就在同一个赛场上。这本身就是个谎言。我遇到这些有钱的孩子,他们有很多我无法理解的东西,做着我无法理解的事情。”

Interviews with students on campus from across the economic spectrum show how difficult it is to navigate a university that tries to be a home for all. After decades of attracting some of Los Angeles’s wealthiest families, U.S.C. has aggressively recruited and enrolled students who could never afford the roughly $57,000 annual tuition.


But the reality for many is a microcosm of the economic disparities of the city the campus calls home — and as in the rest of Los Angeles, the vast majority feel ill-equipped to bridge the divide.


The university has made attracting students from all backgrounds a priority and by almost any measure, its recruitment efforts have been a resounding success. The academic credentials of incoming freshmen have steadily risen, and applications to the university are at an all-time high. As U.S.C. has fought to shed its reputation as a playground for the spoiled elite, officials have boasted about its racial and socio-economic diversity: More than a quarter of all students are from underrepresented minority groups, 14 percent of freshmen are the first in their families to attend college, and two out of three students receive financial assistance. The college has one of the largest financial aid pools in the country — more than $350 million, an increase of nearly 80 percent over the last decade.


And yet, as the bribery cases have made clear, the campus remains a place of pervasive wealth, where celebrity, money and status are still a part of daily life. This is the campus of choice for Dr. Dre, who boasted last month about his daughter being admitted on her own merit, without mentioning that he had donated millions for a school building named in his honor. Wealth is so closely associated with U.S.C. that when a recent “Saturday Night Live” skit spoofed the admissions scandal, it opened with a shot of U.S.C.’s central library.

然而,正如贿赂案所表明的,这座校园仍是到处渗透着财富的地方,名人、金钱与地位仍是其日常生活的一部分。这座大学是Dr. Dre(音乐人、嘻哈传奇人物——编注)的选择,他上月夸口说女儿凭自己的本事考上了这里,却没提及他给一栋以他本人命名的院系大楼捐了几百万美元。财富与南加大的关系如此密切,以至于不久前《周六夜现场》讽刺招生丑闻的小品里,开场镜头就是南加大的中央图书馆。

On the sun-streaked campus, students said conversations focused on a mix of envy and judgment for those with more. Students of all backgrounds said they often silently worried that they were being judged by their peers — either for having too much or not enough.


Mr. Bentley was raised by a single mother in Menifee, a small working-class city about 80 miles east of Los Angeles. When he arrived on campus, he expected to feel comfortable quickly, but instead said he was “completely alienated” because he did not have enough money. Most of his friends now, he said, come from similar backgrounds, “lower middle class or just poor.”


Undoubtedly, there are benefits to attending a private university with a $5.5 billion endowment: gleaming new buildings, access to premier technology, smaller classes. And wealthy students are a fixture at elite colleges across the country — the challenges at U.S.C. are similar to issues faced by students at many top private universities.


“We know when low-income students get to these elite schools, they have a large problem with fit,” said Jessica Thompson, the director of policy and planning at the Institute for College Access & Success. “These schools have built reputations in the world that they are operating to erase class lines, but they are actually sort of hardening the types of inequity they claim to eliminate.”

“我们知道,低收入家庭的学生进入这些精英学校时,他们面临很大的适应问题,”大学入学与成功研究所(Institute for College Access & Success)的政策与规划主任杰西卡·汤普森(Jessica Thompson)说。“这些学校在世界上建立了致力于消除阶级界线的声誉,但实际上,它们在某种程度上强化了声称要消除的不平等。”

But whether because of the students it attracts or because of its place in glittering Los Angeles, the campus exudes a kind of singular flashiness. There are also signs that the university understands the buying power of students. In the campus bookstore, one wall is filled with pricey Kiehl’s bath products and an Abercrombie & Fitch welcomes students in U.S.C. Village, a $700 million residential and retail development opened by the university in 2017.

但无论是因为它所吸引的学生,还是因为它置身于光彩夺目的洛杉矶,校园里焕发出一种独特的光彩。还有迹象表明,学校很清楚学生的购买力。在校园书店里,一面墙全是昂贵的科颜氏(Kiehl’s)沐浴产品,南加州大学村是该校于2017年开放的住宅和零售开发项目,耗资7亿美元,村内有一家爱芙趣(Abercrombie & Fitch)店在迎接学生们。

Heran Mamo, who grew up in Portland as the only child of an epidemiologist and a sportswriter who both emigrated from Ethiopia, considers herself middle class. In the last four years, she has seldom hesitated to go out for expensive meals and drinks.

赫兰·马默(Heran Mamo)在波特兰长大,是家中独女,父母是流行病学家和体育记者,都是来自埃塞俄比亚的移民。她认为自己是中产阶级。过去四年里,她几乎不会在出去吃大餐喝美酒的事情上纠结。

“There’s not a huge culture of saying no to spending,” said Ms. Mamo, who will graduate this spring. “You think ‘I deserve to treat myself,’ and you start fearing saying you can’t do something because you can’t afford it.”


When she has turned down invitations because of money — bypassing a night out or a spring break in Hawaii — her friends have been understanding, Ms. Mamo said. Money is rarely spoken about explicitly, she added, and “people don’t really acknowledge when they’re really wealthy, you usually only find out after a while.”


Some of the most overt signs of wealth are in the campus fraternity and sorority system, where dues often reach in the thousands of dollars, even before the extra money for exclusive formal parties and the wardrobes required to attend them. (One recent trend: Golden Goose sneakers, which cost about $500 a pair.)

大学联谊会和女生联谊会是最明显的财富标志之一,会费往往高达数千美元,甚至还不包括专门的正式派对和参加派对置装所需的额外费用。(最近流行的是金鹅运动鞋[Golden Goose],每双售价约500美元。)

The impact of family income goes beyond campus social life. Wealthier students can easily turn to private tutors when they are struggling in class, and often have built-in access to their parents’ networks, which they can turn to for jobs and internships.


“People know they want to be rich,” Ms. Mamo said. “That’s the goal in mind, it’s just a question of how realistic that is.”


Growing up in Cohasset, Mass., a wealthy coastal community south of Boston, Dan Toomey knew he was well off. “You would be naïve to think you weren’t born into privilege there,” he said. And he knew U.S.C. had a reputation as a haven for spoiled children, but he has seen little evidence of that.

丹·图米(Dan Toomey)在马萨诸塞州的科哈塞特长大,那是波士顿南部一个富裕的滨海社区,他知道自己很富有,“如果你觉得自己不是生来就享有特权,那就太天真了,”他说。他知道南加州大学是被宠坏孩子的安乐窝,但他几乎没有看到这方面的证据。

“Everyone is always pursuing different things, doing all kinds of projects,” he said. “We’ve all been told over and over again: you’re going to be poor, you’re never going to make as much as your parents, you’re going to need to move back in with them. So we’re much more financially sensitive than perhaps other generations.”