Students Simulate Low-Income Lifestyle

On Thursday April 5, the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (ODMA )and the Leadership Engagement and Development Program (LEAD) sponsored McDaniel’s first-ever Poverty Simulation.

The Poverty Simulation was designed for participants to begin to understand what the low-income lifestyle of living week to week is like. Participants were divided into 26 “families” with a variety of situations. Some families were completely unemployed, some were deserted by “breadwinners,” some were homeless and some received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits. Each participant in the simulation was assigned a role within the families. These roles ranged in age from one year old to senior citizen.

The simulation was divided into four “weeks” that lasted 15 minutes each. During that time, participants had to fulfill their roles and provide for necessities such as food, shelter and transportation each week. Accomplishing these tasks and coming up with the means to do so proved to be quite challenging, and as a result, most families were unable to pay all their bills or even provide food for the duration of the “month.” Services for the families included a bank, super center, Community Action Agency, employer, utility company, pawn broker, grocery, social service agency, faith-based agency, payday and title loan facility, mortgage company, school and child care center. These services were “staffed” by volunteer faculty and staff of the College.

The entire Poverty Simulation experience lasted three hours and included an introduction and debriefing, the one-hour simulation, which consisted of four 15-minute “weeks,” and a discussion-based debriefing. During the debriefing period, students, faculty and staff discussed the challenges and emotions they experienced and how those translate into the reality of low-income families across the United States and what people can do to spread awareness about poverty.


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