Representing Race: Student Complaints at a Liberal Arts College

By Thomas P. Oles.

Published by The International Journal of Diversity in Education

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper discusses the aftermath of an off-campus fight involving students of color and local residents at a small liberal arts college. The discussion begins with a general description of the college and relevant elements of its strategic plan before considering the complaints minority students presented in community and classroom discussions and the college’s response presented in committee reports and memos from the president. The paper argues that institutional framing of diversity sustains a demand that students represent race, a demand that invites misrecognition and supports marginalization. The discussion concludes with suggestions for change. While the case described involves a single campus, the campus is similar to other traditionally white colleges in the United States.

Keywords: Diversity, Race, Higher Education

The International Journal of Diversity in Education, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp.53-61. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 361.146KB).

Thomas P. Oles

Associate Professor, Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, Saratoga Springs, New York, USA

Professor Oles is a social worker who specialized in Child Welfare before joining the faculty at Skidmore College in 1985. Professor Oles' professional research and publications have concerned reducing homophobia among social work students and divorce narratives. More recently, he has written about reform of the US tax code. In addition to teaching at Skidmore, Professor Oles served as Dean of Student Affairs for ten years. As Dean, Professor Oles worked on promoting minority student access to and success in college. At this conference Professor Oles is presenting a paper, "Representing Race," that focuses on colleges' demand that minority students represent race in the classroom.