Ryan C. Warner, Ph.D., CRC
Racism on Our College Campuses: What Can We Do About It?
Updated: Jan 18, 2021
Similar to the rest of society, colleges and universities are not immune to racial discrimination. With “Blackface” party incidents and “noose” hangings making news at numerous universities all over the country, racially underrepresented students face challenges beyond the academic scope of tests, papers, and projects.
As a person of color and previous graduate student who has attended various predominantly white universities, I can attest to the fact that racial discrimination can be displayed covertly (e.g., microaggressions) or overtly. These incidences have a profound impact of an individual’s well-being, and can impact their retention and life satisfaction. But the main question is, “what can we do about it?”
At the individual level, we need to all stand up to racial injustice when it occurs. Silence is compliance and only encourages and enhances racial injustice in the world. Individuals of all backgrounds and skin colors should point out bigotry when they see it, which will ultimately create social awareness and bring light to these issues.
At the institutional level, it is important to examine how current procedures and policies in place may indirectly marginalize students of color. Having students, staff, and faculty brainstorm diversity initiatives can also be useful. These individuals have the most insight into the cultural climate, and can offer valuable ideas to enhance it. Additionally, allocating funding so that all students, faculty, and staff have the opportunity to attend diversity training focusing on racial equality and inclusion may be beneficial. Furthermore, ensuring that campuses have a bias incident report system in place can offer a resource for students to document their experiences of racial microaggressions, which may assist with providing evidence that these incidences do in fact exist. This documentation may be helpful with further presenting evidence for the need of diversity resources and inclusivity programming.
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