I found an article on Everyday sociology that talked about campus racism (http://www.everydaysociologyblog.com/2013/11/racism-on-college-campuses.html). Here at Michigan tech we don’t have much of an issue with racist displays or pranks of a racial nature. I would consider Michigan tech to be a generally tolerant place. We don’t have the racial issues that other universities, like the one mentioned in my article, have to deal with more often. The comparable article I found was a little on the non-scientific side, but never the less came up 3rd in a google search. So (reluctantly) I read the article and I was floored at the tone of the piece.( http://www.teenvogue.com/my-life/2013-12/college-campus-racism). It seems that the students interviewed in the piece were oblivious that racism happens on college campuses.
One of the things that struck me in the Everyday Sociology piece was the “Subtle” things he mentioned that are quite common in university dorms. The big one I noticed was people having rebel flags in their room. I kind of had an awakening moment and all of the possibly racially offensive things on this campus became obvious. I remember back to my freshman year. One of my neighbors had a rebel flag hung up in his room. I personally don’t think it is racist. I feel strongly about that opinion as well. It is simply the flag of a country that existed for a short period of time and people who owe their heritage to that country have just as much right to fly that flag as a person who has heritage in Czechoslovakia. I digress, the point of the matter is didn’t bother anyone in our hall, or anyone in general. I sat under that flag and played xbox many a day, people came in, the RA’s stopped by to say hey, other RA’s went by on rounds. I then began to think of social events I had seen… Cowboys and Indians…Cinco De Mayo (celebrated in a mocking manner)…and it was more than likely that someone dressed up as an offensive version of Obama for Halloween. I had the sudden realization …Shit…Racism does happen on this campus. Not in the direct form like harassment or blatant showings (hanging nooses in public places), But never the less all of the rebel flags and offensive costumes I have seen here and there was, when looked at it from a new perspective, pretty damn racist. I was flabbergasted. I was just as oblivious as the people in the teen vogue article. I did not think at all about the subtleties that the author of the Everyday Sociology article was talking about. This pisses me off because I think of myself as being a pretty observant person.
Why is this? I mean why is it that college students don’t always seem to see the offensiveness of things that are all around them. When I first asked myself this question I answered quickly; because it doesn’t offend them. Partially true, I would have to say that there are some things that are offensive that don’t offend me. So if someone walked by and saw a rebel flag, which is “offensive” to society, they may not be offended personally and less likely to say something about it. The other thing is the sociological norm to not want to rock the boat. Even those who were offended did not speak up and say anything.
From what I have gathered from my short venture into the subject of on campus racism, I think that awareness is the key to putting an end to it and a zero tolerance policy from universities. The only caveat to this idea is the idea if free speech on college campuses. I think that raising awareness of on campus racism would help to lower the amount of occurrences.