Special Reports

University Expert Talks About Fighting Racial Bias In Campuses


University expert Shaun R. Harper, who founded and directed the University of Pennsylvania's Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education, has been vocal about his thoughts on racial bias in campuses. He has a book due out in June from Johns Hopkins University Press entitled "Race Matters in College."

In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Harper talked about his book and why he wrote it. He also discussed what factors in universities and colleges breed racism as well as its long-term effects on the community.

The director of UPenn's Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education noted that the current surge in racial bias supports his argument that higher education institutions should be responsible for giving white students access to a course in race. He admitted that he wrote his book to bring to light the fact that universities and colleges have always been racist and exclusive. With this, he hopes that these institutions will continue with their commitment to diversity.

According to Mr. Harper, one of the major ways that universities breed racism is through underrepresentation of people of color in positions of influence. On largely white campuses, people of color are mostly seen only in food service, grounds keeping and custodial roles, among others, while they are underrepresented among positions such as tenured faculty members, deans, provosts and presidents.

This implies that black and Latino students are not really valued in higher education institutions. If universities and colleges continue to ignore the importance of racial diversity, it would ultimately affect the nation's democracy since the students today are the ones who will be shaping public policies and teaching future generations.

Fusion shared five things that black students believe will end racism in college campuses. First is to have stricter anti-discrimination policies. Next is to have more cross-cultural learning, which was what Mr. Harper suggested as well - to educate white people on the different realities of race.

Third is to have more student oversight committees that put the power in students' hands. The University of Miami recently urged its students to take an active part in calling out microaggressions in campus.

Fourth, students suggest that there should be more "safe spaces" for black students. Lastly, there should be a divestment from the prison industrial complex which profits from exploiting black people.

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