A treatise on jackets

Making fun of Canada Goose jackets may feel satisfying in the moment, but there are better, more concrete ways to critique class privilege. 

Image By: Michael Makowski

As temperatures continue to drop in Madison, students seek warmth from harsh Midwest weather conditions, unsurprisingly, in winter jackets. For many students this means wearing the same jacket they’ve had since high school, for others it means buying their first winter jackets and for some it’s a chance to purchase a really expensive jacket that, knowingly or not, serves as a visual reminder of their privilege at this university.

Yes, the Canada Goose jacket seems to be a heated point of conversation when it comes to undergraduates seeking to critique class in the university. And no, I do not think it’s a profound critique.

Whether you have one or not, you’ve probably made a remark, heard or read one regarding the insane privilege people who sport Canada Goose jackets must have. Aside from the fact that we do not know everything about the lives of the expensive jacket-wearers and their assumed privilege, there is a nuanced discussion to be had around their critique. 

While I am not here to shield people who wear these expensive jackets from criticism, I am here to ask my fellow Badgers to elevate their discourse when it comes to being class conscious, especially in the context of the world-class institution we are so lucky to attend. Scoffing at someone wearing a jacket reflects your insecurities more so than it impacts the people wearing them. Do you really think that those people wearing Canada Goose jackets are going to stop wearing them because you don’t like them? No, they will not. I understand why people criticize these jackets; it’s an easy visual target to pick on when frustrated with how expensive and difficult it is to attend Madison as a lower-class student, or when you’re someone who is simply against the idea of spending that much money on a jacket.

I want to use this space to instead provide you with better ways to be critical of our university, which upholds class division and is openly austere to its lower-class students. 

Most recently, the Board of Regents quietly and unanimously voted to increase tuition costs for both non-residents and professional schools, making it even more difficult for lower-class students to attend an already expensive institution. The university has also enabled institutions like the dining halls to take advantage of already broke students by adding a new policy that students must purchase a minimum $1400 meal plan, despite widespread protest. You could take your critique even further by pointing out that Madison also has a continuous history of white-centric culture which has fostered anti-Semitic hate crimes on campus and around town. Additionally, you could reflect on and admonish UW Police for arresting a student two years ago for graffitiing buildings on campus in an effort to expose racism on campus. 

My list of what you could do instead of complaining about people wearing jackets is not exhaustive. I implore you to think outside the box and look for other ways in which you can be critical of the university and its upper-class, white-centric culture other than ridiculing people for wearing jackets you deem too expensive and gaudy. 

Full disclosure, I myself am not a Canada Goose jacket-wearer; however, I defend the right of people to wear them without having their photos taken unknowingly and posted to social media. I equally defend working-class students' rights to critique the university, critically. People wearing jackets are really low-hanging fruit, and we need to be more creative in how we express our dissent.

Use the critical thinking skills that you have learned to openly critique the institution where you got those skills from. Radical acts of subversion prove to the ruling class that working-class people will not be bullied into submission. Write about what frustrates you, join an organization, get out in the streets and physically protest; let your frustration fuel your fire if that’s what it takes for you to overcome your insecurities as a working-class member of a high-class institution. I, for one, will not be bothered by people wearing jackets, and will continue to persevere as a student working two jobs to support my education. After all, we are smarter than jackets, and we should not let them get in the way of achieving our goals and dreams.

Molly is a senior majoring in art history and French. Do you think Canada Goose jackets are a symbol of privilege or just jackets? Please send all comments to opinion@dailycardinal.com. 

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