Since race-related protests erupted in the fall at the University of Missouri, questions have continued to surface about how real are student and faculty claims of racism on our nation’s college campuses.
The Chronicle of Higher Education in its January 8, issue attempts to answer that question regarding Missouri in an article entitled “What It’s Like to Be Black at the U. of Missouri.”
In the story, students talk about living with racial division, isolation, and prejudice on the flagship campus in Columbia, Mo. where 7 percent of the 35,000 students, and 3.2 percent of the faculty are black.
The Chronicle talked with several black undergraduate and graduate students at MU and asked them to describe what life is like for them on the campus, and what changes they want to see there.
Students said they often feel caught between not wanting to speak for an entire race and knowing that if they don’t say something, stereotypes will lie unchallenged, and black and white people will stay in their own corners.
The article includes student accounts of overt and subtle racism. It quotes one student as saying that she looks to the faculty for mentors or role models and doesn’t find many. The only two black professors she’s had in three years have been in the black studies department. The same student told The Chronicle that classmates make assumptions based on her race — that she must be at MU because of affirmative action, and an administrator assumed she couldn’t afford a study-abroad trip to Ghana.