Two stories on higher education this week captured national headlines. The first centered on students of color at the Claremont Colleges who did not want to room with white peers. The second focused on a professor who told students they would be marked down if they used the term “melting pot” on assignments.
To be sure, the stories offer a very worrisome commentary on the state of affairs on college campuses today. But if you are surprised by the reports, you have not been paying attention.
On students of color who did not want to room with white peers, that is nothing new. Black students have been openly demanding segregated “safe spaces” from white students for a year now. Places such as UConn and Berkeley offer segregated living spaces, for example.
Indeed at universities nationwide, segregated spaces for students of color has become a welcomed occurrence, seen not only in housing but also in campus social gatherings, protests and grief sessions.
As for the professor who forbids the phrase “melting pot” in her classroom, how is that a shocker when universities across the nation are teaching that the term is a microaggression? From California to Wisconsin to Indiana, this phrase has been presented on campuses as offensive because it suggests to minorities they must “assimilate/acculturate to the dominant culture.”
So students self segregating or professors banning the term “melting pot” are not random, isolated incidents. They are brushstrokes within a much larger, and troubling, higher education picture.