The Burt Mitchell Minority Management Organization (BMMMO) held an open discussion on public assistance programs, letting students judge the true value of welfare in America.

Mario Del Moral, BMMMO’s educational coordinator, and Troy Drayton, the organization’s publicity coordinator, led an open discussion with students about the positives and negatives of welfare programs.

In choosing whether or not to use public assistance, Drayton said certain factors must be considered.

“[You have to weigh] how much utility [they] get from the program versus the disutility [they] get from the stigma,” Drayton said.

Del Moral, a junior double-majoring in economics and mathematical sciences, and Drayton, a junior majoring in economics, sought input from the audience to create an open and balanced dialogue.

“They all had their perceptions about welfare programs,” Del Moral said. “Our goal was to have a discussion about their experiences with welfare and how welfare programs impact the economy and them as individuals.”

The discussion focused on “welfare queens” — those who allegedly take advantage of the system and live solely off of welfare.

But most of the 15 audience members agreed that, in general, welfare goes to those who really need it.

“These programs serve as a foundation to help only those individuals that need it the most,” said Derrick Nesbitt, a senior majoring in financial economics and treasurer of BMMMO. “By providing facts and statistical data, we demonstrated that these safety programs are not surrounded by as much corruption and greed as many may think.”

Two videos were shown, one emphasizing the positive aspects of welfare and one demonstrating how welfare recipients can abuse the system.

The meeting featured icebreakers about different types of public assistance and moved on to topics including how people qualify for welfare, how the media affects perceptions of welfare and how the system can be misused.

Drayton and Del Moral ended the meeting with a discussion of how audience members would reform welfare to prevent such abuses and to decrease the associated stigma.

Nesbitt was pleased with how open the presentation was to discussion, and thought that everyone came away with new insights into public assistance programs.

“I believe the audience gained a better understanding of welfare, and the various safety net programs that are implemented,” Nesbitt said.