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Discrimination on College Campuses

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MISHAWAKA, IND.--Discrimination on college campuses is nothing new. Many colleges have been charged for discriminating against applicants and students. This has been happening since even before Brown v. Board of Education.  

Brown v. Board of Education was a court case in 1896 that ruled racial segregation in public schooling as unconstitutional. This was one of the first steps to try to rid the American education system of segregation, but this did not get rid of discrimination, not by a long shot.  

It wasn’t until July 2, 1964 that President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act which prohibited discrimination of all kinds: race, color, religion, or national origin.   September 24, 1964 is the first time that Affirmative Action is enforced in America. Affirmative Action mostly focuses on colleges and universities and it requires equal access to education for the underrepresented minorities, which increases their opportunities for admission.   According to the law, there should be no discrimination among college campuses anymore, especially not from the university itself. However, not only do students face discrimination from the students surrounding them, but they also experience discrimination from the institution.   Just recently, Harvard University was brought to trial for discrimination against Asian-Americans. Allegedly, the first lawsuit was filed in 2014.   The case is claiming that Harvard University is holding Asian-Americans to a higher standard than other races in the application process. Harvard denies the allegations and claims that while it does consider race as one of the many factors of admission, that is solely to diversify the classes each year. However, they deny using racial quotas to achieve those numbers.  Harvard University is not the only university that is to blame, there have been many institutions with similar scandals. Yale University, University of Missouri, Ithaca College and Stanford have all recently had students who feel institutionalized racism. According to The Atlantic:  “For minority students, surviving and thriving academically despite multiple encounters with racism or stereotyping may require a different type of resolve than do typical college-student struggles like balancing work and class, or overcoming difficult assignments.”  All ethnicities experience discrimination on their college campuses. Just a few years ago, Yale professor Erika Christakis sent an email that got her fired. Essentially, in the spirit of Halloween she wrote:  “I don’t wish to trivialize genuine concerns about cultural and personal representation. I know that many decent people have proposed guidelines on Halloween costumes from a spirit of avoiding hurt and offense. I laud those goals, in theory, as most of us do. But in practice, I wonder if we should reflect more transparently, as a community, on the consequences of an institutional (which is to say: bureaucratic and administrative) exercise of implied control over college students.”  Essentially, she was writing to question the guidelines that were given to the students for Halloween costumes; however, the way that her email was inferred was along the lines of “It doesn’t matter if our students wear culturally offensive costumes, and we should allow and encourage that.”  That email was enough to get her fired, because institutions do not want to be affiliated with anyone who might be deemed as racist or culturally offensive.   Discrimination on college campuses is a hard thing to get rid of, because while most of the faculty want to change the institution for the better, there are those people who don’t want to. Minority student have to experience micro-aggressions every day.   There is no quick fix to discrimination, the best way to rid college campuses of this is to be intentional with the people around you. Some students at certain universities are calling for both faculty and students to go through sensitivity training, and even are asking for a say in hiring new faculty.   If you would like any extra information on any of these cases or topics, the sources used in this story are:  https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/01/balancing-academia-racism/424887/  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/15/us/harvard-affirmative-action-asian-americans.html  https://www.cnn.com/2015/11/10/us/racism-college-campuses-protests-missouri/index.html   
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