College bullying stories have made headlines in recent months. Hazing, discrimination, and outright cruelty are still happening, even though college students are supposedly adults and rules and regulations against these actions are in place.
Perhaps even more sadly, these things are occurring despite the fact that common courtesy and decency toward others should be qualities that all humans possess.
Racism also appears to be alive and well on many college campuses, even though today’s young adults—typically referred to as Generation Y—are generally considered more tolerant of differences in others than than past generations because they have grown up in a more diverse world
However, Gawker reports a new study found that college appears to make people less interested in promoting racial understanding. Across all races, people’s interest in “helping to promote racial understanding” declined during their college years. Study participants were polled after one year at college and again after graduation.
One example of racism on campus would have to be the group of over 400 University of Mississippi students that gathered for an on-campus protest following the re-election of President Barack Obama.
Students shouted racial slurs and burned an Obama campaign poster. Inside Higher Ed reported that police arrested one student for public intoxication and another for failing to comply with police orders. The Office of University Communications issued a statement expressing apology over the situation as well as its disappointment in the students involved.
“While we are grateful that there were no injuries and there was no property damage, we are very disappointed in those students who took a very immature and uncivil approach to expressing their views about the election,” University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones said.
A similar incident occurred at the all-male Hampden-Sydney College following election results. According to the Associated Press, approximately 40 students shouted racial slurs while throwing bottles and setting off fireworks outside the Minority Student Union on campus.
Many students are concerned over racism in college, particularly minority students who attend primarily-white colleges and universities.
Whether you’re a current college student who wants to make a difference on your campus or a prospective student who is in the process of selecting a school to spend your next four years, the following suggestions could be helpful:
Living on campus is an eye-opening experience for most new college students. Being away from home for the first time can be nerve-wracking, especially while living with someone (or someones) that you barely even know.
But not only can living with a roommate from a different background in a traditional residence hall help students learn to accept and appreciate diversity, more and more colleges are now home to unique opportunities such as Multicultural Theme Housing at the University of California Santa Cruz and Language Houses at Hood College.
College is full of firsts, and it’s often the first time that students are exposed to a large number of people who are different races, religions, or ethnicities than they are.
Fortunately, though, college campuses are home to a wide variety of clubs and organizations that can help students learn about other cultures. Joining a group that is “different” than you are can help you understand and appreciate others. On the other hand, joining a group of students who share your culture and background may help you feel more comfortable on campus.
Campus clubs regularly schedule awareness events on campus and many large schools arrange for well-known speakers to discuss racism and other serious issues. Earlier this year The College of Charleston organized an event featuring Tim Wise, a prominent anti-racism writer and educator.
“We hope to raise critical awareness around issues of racism and discrimination in our communities,” explained John Bello-Ogunu, Sr., the college’s associate vice president and chief diversity officer.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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