Sophie Logan’s work concerning issues of classism and equity began before coming to Bard. Growing up in Middlebury, Vermont, she observed a clear divide in her high school between the children of farmers and the children of professors. She said this observation led her to her first experience in activism: addressing that inequity by starting a blog modeled after “Humans of New York.” Now a senior economics and German studies major, Logan continues to address how those issues affect the Bard experience.
“[The SCALE project] basically addresses issues of socioeconomic class and equity on campus and tries to do that in a number of ways; mostly project-based,” Logan said. “It’s also a range of very different kinds of people on campus. There’s a core student group but then we also have faculty who are really involved and excited about it, and the administrators as well who are really involved with it, so I really like that mix of so many different kinds of people.”
Logan decided to start SCALE after seeing a need for a group like it on campus.
“First of all, I saw that there was no group on campus for this. And second of all, a lot of the groups on campus weren’t super intersectional or they dealt with one issue, and I wanted a group that was really intersectional because equity affects everyone and class is a part of everyone’s life,” she said. “And also I think equity spans race and ethnicity and gender and sexual orientation in a way that I hope [makes] people feel welcome to [join].”
Over the first two years of her college career, through everyday interactions and her involvement with student government, Logan noticed the role money plays once students come to Bard.
“I think that it’s a really tricky time to deal with money in college because you’re kind of still connected to your parents but most people want to feel emancipated in some way from them,” she said. “So money is this way that […] tethers you back to your old life, or it can, as a child.”
Logan observed specific ways that money limited the range of options for respective educational experiences.
“I just saw ways that money played a role in the actual education that people get here,” Logan said. “Like my friends deciding not to take a language intensive because they couldn’t afford to go on the trip at the end; or people like having to work 20 or 30 hours a week just to pay for their textbooks, and they couldn’t even pay for them until halfway through the semester.”
After jumping the hurdle of getting into college and making it to Annandale, students are met with even more obstacles.
“That kind of thing, where it’s just like, that is obviously a different educational experience at Bard than people who don’t think about money, and it’s not the fault of the people who don’t think about it, but I don’t think Bard gives an even playing field once you get here,” Logan said.
Through collaboration between students, faculty, and administrators, the SCALE project has forwarded a number of projects focused on equity. For example, a flat student activities fee that students used to have to pay, regardless of their financial aid package, is now applicable to financial aid thanks to the SCALE project and their collaboration with the administration. Additionally, the project has worked with professors to make their classrooms more equitable through “professor pledges.”
What Logan is most proud of is the SCALE library, which offers expensive textbooks for students to borrow without having to pay. Despite being a “logistical nightmare,” Logan said that the library has made a positive impact.
“I feel like […] it will just like make people not make decisions based on money once they get here, you know?” she said. “Like not pick a major based on money. If I can only leave that, that would be super exciting for me, because I want Bard students to follow what inspires them and makes them really excited about the world.”
In this way, the library’s mission relates to Logan’s overall goal: limiting the ways in which socioeconomic challenges keep students from getting the most out of their time at Bard.
“The SCALE project isn’t close to bringing down all the barriers but in the future, as many barriers as possible will be brought down so that the only thing you have to do is to think for yourself for how you want your education to go and how you want these four years to play out,” Logan said.
Future plans for the project include building up the SCALE library and an art exhibit and discussion surrounding equity within the art department. Later in the semester, Logan will be traveling with the project to the AL1GN conference (The Alliance for the Low-Income & First-Generation Narrative) at the University of Virginia to present on the “professor pledges” project.
“So that’s really exciting in terms of connecting with other activists nationally and everything,” Logan stated.
After she graduates, Logan said that all she hopes for the project is to find a passionate leader that can make it their own. Preparing for that transition, Logan has tried to engender a welcoming and supportive atmosphere within the project to encourage students to pursue their own projects.
“I feel like anyone can come to the meeting and have a project in mind that they want to do and pursue that,” she said. “The meetings are set up in such a way that it’s just people bouncing ideas off each other and like trying to brainstorm ways that projects could work better, and anyone can do that. It’s very project-based, and so I would say that I kind of run the meetings but I am always trying to make other people the head of the actual projects and me just be sort of like someone that can support any project that needs it.”