Racism is one of the banes of any society. It makes people of other skin color or race feel less valuable in any social group. America knows very well what racism is, and the battle with it has continued for centuries already. Hidden racism and segregation are even more dangerous than the obvious neglecting of the human and social rights of people from the oppressed group. Such a form of racism is usually present in the institutions that state full equality of rights, stand for diversity, and embrace multiculturalism and the multiethnic environment as the only possible policies adopted. However, the reality appears to be very different. Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is known in the USA as the University that has one of the most liberal policies regarding students of different races and skin colors. Recent events have shown that stating the policy and following it is not the same thing. The situation with the rights of the students from the different ethnic groups in the University is not as good as it tries to present. VCU ignores the achievements of African-Americans.
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Danger to Students of Color
The situation in VCU poses a certain threat to the students of color. It does not mean that students are in danger of reprisal because of the skin color or belonging to some ethnic minority. It means that the essence of the studentship is in great danger. The goal of the years spent in a university or other higher education facility is to learn.
The process of learning is based on mastering a theoretical basis and practical use of it in a variety of examples of real-life situations. Freedom of thought is one of the cornerstones of creativity while creativity is the major tool for development. If students are deprived of freedom, they do not have the opportunity to show creativity, and thus, they cannot develop. The idea of studentship becomes meaningless. King provides the illustration of exactly the same situation in VCU (“VCUarts Fliers Tell Dean” par. 5). Officials of the University underline the fact that the establishment is focused on the creation of the beneficial conditions for the representatives of all ethnic groups.
They are guaranteed to have the same conditions and possibilities for development. In this regard, the officials state the great progress in this sphere. Mitchell states that the great job is done in VCU to assure an unbiased and equal attitude to all minorities in the University disregarding the color of skin or ethnic belongings (“Update on Diversity” par. 9). After the evaluation of the available literature that describes the historical events from the past of VCU, it can be said that some work to eliminate racism has been done. Frisa provides numerous facts about various events that were organized in VCU to promote cultural and ethnic diversity there (par. 1-24).
Considering the current, ongoing racial issues, it is clear that VCU is not focused on the provision of minorities with equal rights and opportunities. Officials present nice-looking data about the training and other programs to support diversity, but there are no results. According to King, students address real-life situations to support their claims, while officials operate projections and historical data only (“VCUarts Fliers Tell Dean” par. 7; “Administration Responds” par. 23). There are issues today, and nothing is done to resolve them.
Different Possibilities for Students Representing Various Ethnic Groups
There is another side of students’ life, other than learning activities. This site is involved in the development of the learning environment. Being students, young people learn to participate in the cultural and political life within the walls of their University. They learn to interact with peers, professors, and officials to create and develop the learning environment efficiently. Such a process must involve students from very different ethnic and racial groups to provide all students with equal possibilities and rights to receive the same quality of education. Additionally, students must be provided with equal attitude, unbiased, and tolerant. It is an indisputable fact that African-American students are capable of being significant contributors to many educational achievements and the sphere of education in general (Harper 337). However, black students in VCU are not able to influence the development of the faculty and take an active part in its life.
Mitchell states that the official mission of VCU is based on such postulates (“Update on Diversity” par. 13-16). In the same article Mitchell provides information about the updates in the University policies and various institutional changes aimed at the improvement of the reporting tools about the discrimination of “equal opportunity, gender discrimination, affirmative action and pay transparency” (“Update on Diversity” par. 9). If to evaluate the current situation from the VCU officials’ point of view, the issues reported by the black students are nothing but the series of misunderstandings that are not connected, and they have nothing to do with skin color or ethnic belongings.
The situation in VCU has demonstrated the futility of all these declared efforts and activities. Black students are not only discriminated against in their rights to address the history of African-Americans and study it within the course of education, but they also cannot even report about it appropriately (“VCUarts Fliers Tell Dean” par. 7). In other words, the system in VCU is created in a way that deprives the minority students of their rights. It is done in a rather sophisticated manner that cannot be even disputed using legislative methods. A protest seems to be the only way.
The Absence of the Inclusion and Diversity
Finally, there is social life in VCU, into which the majority of students that represent minorities are not involved. In other words, the situation in VCU shows the absence of inclusion and diversity. African-American students constitute only 4.7% of all students in VCU (“Administration Responds” par. 8). It is worth mentioning that Richmond’s population of black people is much more significant. It is about ten times larger than the number of black students in VCU. It means that only one young person out often has the opportunity to enter the University and receive higher education. It seems inappropriate and very discriminating.
However, as King states, according to the President of VCU and some vice presidents, the inclusion and diversion are the concerns that are given a great deal of attention (“Administration Responds” par. 38). Their speeches highlight the attempts to guarantee the growth of the level of inclusion and promote diversity. Mitchell assures students that VCU undertakes some activities to develop “our commitment to diversity by providing a climate of inclusion, dedication to addressing disparities wherever they exist, and an opportunity to explore and create in an environment of trust” (“Inclusive Excellence” par. 2). It seems again that VCU’s officials are aware of the issues in VCU’s community and attempt to resolve them as effectively as possible.
To demonstrate the depth of inclusion and the scale of diversity, it is necessary to present only one fact about VCU today: the percentage of African-American professors at VCU is just 8%, and it keeps decreasing. It is unclear how VCU’s officials can speculate about diversity and inclusion in such positive a manner being aware of such numbers. These numbers (4.7% of black students and 8% of black professors) state one obvious fact that VCU is not for black people. However, officials keep saying about diversity, inclusion, tolerance, and other similar concepts that simply do not apply to the current situation. It should be noted that all these issues would have left unnoticed without students’ protests. Such a state of things shows that racism is still present in the modern life of universities across the USA
Summing up, one can state clearly that VCU does not pay appropriate attention to the achievements of African-Americans. Despite the fact of declaring the equality of rights for all ethnic groups by the management of VCU, African-American students claim that these words do not have any real background. Students from the VCU joined to support colleagues from the University of Missouri, in their struggle, for equal attitude and received nothing but the reassurance that the work on this is in progress. This progress has taken about a year already, and students see nothing but words. Such ignorance of the African-American students’ needs in VCU shows that racism in its worse, hidden form might be present in the University declaring tolerance, multiculturalism, and equality for all students.
Frisa, Elinor. “From the Archives: A Window into the African-American Experience at VCU and Its Predecessors.” VCU News. VCU University Relations, 2016.
Harper, Shaun. “Peer Support for African American Male College Achievement: Beyond Internalized Racism and the Burden of “Acting White.” The Journal of Men’s Studies 14.3 (2007): 337-358. Print.
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King, Sarah. “Administration Responds to Black VCU Speaks.” The Commonwealth Times. 2015.
King, Sarah. “VCUarts Fliers Tell Dean to Address Racist Faculty.” The Commonwealth Times. 2015.
Mitchell, Wanda. “Inclusive Excellence Initiatives for Fall 2015.” VCU News. VCU University Relations, 2015.
Mitchell, Wanda. “Update on Diversity and Inclusion.” VCU News. VCU University Relations, 2016.