Thursday, February 28, 2013

What Will College Students Do For Money?

See The Student Body, for Sale: To meet the rising cost of college, students can call on at least one resource all their own by Don Troop of The Chronicle of Higer Education. If you can't access all of the article, I might be able to email it to you.

Students sell their plasma. Female students sell their eggs. Male students sell their sperm. Both females and males strip. They also get paid to be guinea pigs in medical studies. Excerpts:
"...60 percent of American college students graduate in the red, owing an average of $25,300..."

A male stripper said about his saturday night gigs: "I'd walk out with maybe $600 or $700 a night,"

"The sale of bodily goods or services—"body commodification"—is nothing new among college students. But strides in medical technology, the encroachment of market values on all facets of life, and the reach and culture of the Internet have combined to create a fertile environment for people who want or need to exploit the value of their skin or what lies beneath it..."

"Students sell plasma, take requests to perform custom erotic acts on Web cameras, or offer themselves as guinea pigs in paid drug trials. A master's student in Penfield, N.Y., says she was kicked out of her social-work program last June for snuggling with strangers—no sex allowed—for $60 an hour. A handful of Web sites, like, promise introductions to young and attractive men and women—often students—for "mutually beneficial relationships." An advertisement in campus newspapers at three elite colleges offers $35,000 for the eggs of a young woman with an SAT score above 1400."

"A 27-year-old woman in a suburban mid-Atlantic area dropped out of community college two and a half years ago to pay off bills and save up for a degree in graphic design. We'll call her "J." She had been eking out a living as a waitress when she decided to take a turn on the stage of a local strip club that paid $500 to the winner of its weekly amateur night. She remembers little about that night, except that she won the contest and brought home $700 in prize money and tips."

"The manager offered her a job on the spot, and she began dancing one or two nights a week, bringing home $200 to $700 per shift, ..."

""Students who strip can alleviate some of the stigma from their occupation by rationalizing their work," the two scholars wrote (Mary Nell Trautner & Jessica L. Collett). "Whether or not they rely on their earnings for tuition, these women believe that stripping is supporting a series of positive life choices they have been making," in contrast to "what they see as negative life choices of 'other' dancers." But there is a downside. Student strippers typically keep the job secret from family members, classmates, and professors, Ms. Trautner and Ms. Collett wrote, an arrangement that can leave them feeling alienated and estranged..."

"College newspapers and Craigslist carry advertisements seeking women and men, particularly students with high GPAs and SATs, who are willing to "donate" their gametes."

"Egg donors in the United States are typically paid $5,000 to $10,000, a voluntary ceiling established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Sperm donors get about $100 per donation;..."

Is all of this degrading? "Economic sociologists such as Ms. Almeling, at Yale, and Viviana A. Zelizer, at Princeton University, believe that the reality is more complex. A transaction that many would see as corrupting might be viewed less judgmentally if it creates the potential for a positive result.

For example, says Ms. Zelizer, if a student exchanges sex for cash to cover her college expenses, she will regard that decision differently. "By saying, 'I'm doing it for tuition,' it kind of cleanses the money," says Ms. Zelizer, author of The Purchase of Intimacy (Princeton, 2005). "Prostitutes themselves differentiate between the money they earn from prostitution and the money they earn from clean sources, and they spend it differently.""

"The United States has become the world's biggest supplier of plasma in part because, unlike Britain and Canada, that part of its blood supply has remained a for-profit system. Mr. Healy says the poor, not college students, continue to be the largest proportion of plasma donors. But many students are on the lower end of the economic spectrum, and the proximity of plasma-donation centers to many colleges hardly seems coincidental." (one student got $25-$30 per donation)

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