Art Ed PhotoVoice examines financial burden on students

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, February 14th, 2018 at 7:07 PM

Dr. J” Jay Hanes’ art education field class organized a PhotoVoice research project, currently on display outside of Doucette G-5. The project focuses on the stresses and burdens of financial matters on students. 

PhotoVoice is an organization that looks to bring “together arts, media, development, campaigning and social change to deliver projects that enable voice, build skills, deliver advocacy and work towards sustainable change,” according to their website. Essentially, the goal of a PhotoVoice project is to start a conversation through photos.  

The conversation began when the future educators had to select an issue that affected their community. Although the topics were brainstormed separately, when the students compared their lists, they found that financial aid stresses were a commonality. 

According to Hanes, “They discovered these things (the project and its revelations) on their own.” 

Some of the inspirations behind the images for the project were based on the purchasing habits of students, unhealthy but cheap diets and the overall fees of tuition. 

“I just thought of things that I stress out about, like the cost of books, fees, tuition,” stated Darrien Switzer, a member of the art education field class.

“A lot of us thought of food because you have to think of the cost of living too, not just the cost of college expenses. The four of us all had similar photos, and it allowed us to make an inference that we (college students) worry about the same things because we documented the same things.” 

Education is not the only thing students are paying for when they go to school. Student money also goes to people who “already have money, like banks, landlords0 and other people that benefit from the hardships we share,” said Switzer. 

“We just want to raise awareness on the topic as much as possible; we want everybody around us to be aware, even if you’re not directly affected by the financial cost,” art education student Emily Johnston stated. 

According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, research demonstrates that because of the cost of education, many people are unable to go to school in the first place, which can affect wages and even slow the economy’s growth.

“I think it’s interesting to note on the PASSHE website that Pennsylvania is 47th out of 50 schools in terms of financial support, so it’s a legislative issue,” said Hanes.

As the PASSHE System pushes for the “The Pennsylvania Promise,” an initiative to put more money into higher education and assist students with financial need, this weight could be partially lifted and made more bearable for students in the future. 

In order to impress upon people the importance of this kind of legislation, Hanes encourages participation by all students for this project, not just his own. 

“Pretty much everyone has a phone, so everyone has a camera,” stated Switzer. 

Kayla Ferrello, also a member of the art education program added: “It would be interesting to get other people to participate in this project, because we only have the perspective of four art-education students. It would be cool to see how students across campus and in different majors feel about it.”

For those interested in joining the movement, posting your own projects on social media is a great option for participation and raising awareness. 

Livia Homerski can be reached at

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