The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
@TheChrony
Print Issues
Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
@TheChrony
Print Issues

Speaker says class divides America

By Clayton Norlen

Professor Cris Cullinan said equality doesn’t exist in America’s current class system where poverty is ignored.

“We’re creating a plutocracy in the United States where only the top 20 percent of the population can get anywhere,” said Cullinan, a professor at the University of Oregon. “We’re creating a system where three-fourths of the population aren’t able to attend higher education.”

Cullinan made her remarks during a lecture titled “Have you got Class?” held in the College of Social Work Auditorium on Sept. 24. The lecture was the first in a series titled “Knowing History Part II: Yours, Mine and More” aimed at creating an awareness and understanding of individual perspectives in all parts of Utah’s communities.

At the beginning of the lecture, Cullinan divided the audience into groups of five, representative of the current income class system in the United States.

She described the different status and quality of life each group could hope to enjoy and the average home income for each. She repeatedly returned the division of the audience to illustrate the divide that she claims is crippling America.

Cullinan cited statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau that divides the average income for U.S. household income units into five groups. In 2001 the lowest 20 percent of Americans made an average of $10,136 per year and the top 20 percent made $145,970, not including assets.

“Today the biggest indicator that you’ll graduate from college is if your parents graduated from college, particularly your mother. And that is a class system,” Cullinan said. “In many cases, it’s easier for us to believe that you get what your work for, but in America if you’re poor and lazy, you’re probably already dead.”

Panel discussion followed the lecture. Panelists included Cullinan, Michael Timberlake, chair of the department of sociology, and Jason Castillo, a professor in the College of Social Work.

Questions from the crowd carried the discussion to an array of topics on health care, immigration and tax reform.

“What can be done to create change to our current system?” a member of the crowd asked the panel.

“In this country we’ve bought into the idea that if you don’t work for it you won’t earn it, and no other industrialized nation thinks that way,” Cullinan responded. “It’s not about working hard. The solution comes from talking about poverty and all its facets.”

“For some time there has been a lack of a strong political movement to put pressure onto the top-tiers to encourage change,” Timberlake added.

[email protected]

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

The Daily Utah Chronicle welcomes comments from our community. However, the Daily Utah Chronicle reserves the right to accept or deny user comments. A comment may be denied or removed if any of its content meets one or more of the following criteria: obscenity, profanity, racism, sexism, or hateful content; threats or encouragement of violent or illegal behavior; excessively long, off-topic or repetitive content; the use of threatening language or personal attacks against Chronicle members; posts violating copyright or trademark law; and advertisement or promotion of products, services, entities or individuals. Users who habitually post comments that must be removed may be blocked from commenting. In the case of duplicate or near-identical comments by the same user, only the first submission will be accepted. This includes comments posted across multiple articles. You can read more about our comment policy at https://dailyutahchronicle.com/comment-faqs/.
All The Daily Utah Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *