Race/Class Interaction

The Princeton Review has once again named Baruch College as one of the best 371 colleges in America. The report also features 62 rankings lists on topics including “Professors Get High Marks,” “Class Discussions Encouraged,” and “Most Beautiful Campus.” Each rankings lists presents the top and the bottom 20 colleges. With Baruch’s status as most diverse college, it would be nice to see it among the top-20 in the category “Race/Class Interactions”: http://www.princetonreview.com/schoollist.aspx?type=r&id=723&RDN=1 But we are not part of this list.

Maybe it’s a tall order for the most diverse college in the nation to also be one with lots of race and class interaction? But why not?

A 2005 article in The Ticker lamented that students at Baruch are “divided by race” (i.e., that clubs and friendship circles are largely monocultural and that there is too little intercultural/interethnic interaction): http://www.theticker.org/2.10634/divided-by-race-1.1417125

While there is something to be said for the protective comfort that in-groups can provide, we should do better. But how?

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5 Responses to Race/Class Interaction

  1. Kyra Gaunt says:

    Just emailed the Princeton Review to learn how schools are included on their list for ranking.

    Of course we might figure high on a list, despite what those rankings appear to indicate at the moment. Our race/class interaction happens more in the classroom than outside and we really should reconsider our classroom surveys as a means to analyzing this realm.

  2. Matthew Edwards says:

    What, exactly, does a “class interaction” entail?

  3. glennpetersen says:

    Good timing, Elisabeth. There’s actually been some discussion about this at Baruch over the past few years. Dennis Slavin, Sam Johnson, Rick Wilkins, and I have been speaking in terms like “everyday diversity,” “diversity—so what?,” and “the uses of diversity.” We’ve made efforts to convene some sort of program but thus far have lacked sufficient drive to get it going. Now, though, Dean Peck and his office have gotten the ball rolling. There’s going to be a program, Baruch Debates Diversity & Internationalization, on Sept 14 12:30-4:00 in the Conference Center with speakers and discussion groups to address some of these questions.

    My own approach to these questions has two parts. First, if we want diversity, then we have to have difference. Student clubs organized around ethnicity promote ethnic identity and pride, they provide students with some small but valuable sense of safety, and they make it relatively easier for students to hold onto some of their differences; the clubs and other patterns of ethnic exclusivity actually contribute, therefore, to diversity.

    Second, I think our faculty doesn’t do nearly enough to teach itself how we can best make use of our student body’s diversity. The college has done little or nothing to create our vaunted diversity—it’s sort of naturally occurring, like the naturally occurring retirement communities that spring up in warm places. We simply take it for granted and have largely failed to learn how we can put this to use in our classrooms. There are, obviously, a few who work conscientiously at this, Elisabeth being among the leaders, but I’d love to see all of us learning more about the uses of diversity.

  4. Students should be encouraged and helped to analyze their own cultures as well. Most people see how their own culture acts on the surface, but few understand the deeper causes that affect the surface. When students understand that better, not only that they explain their culture better but can understand more about themselves as well.

  5. Elisabeth Gareis says:

    You are right. To be interculturally effective, one should understand culture-general concepts and one’s own culture first, then learn about other cultures. To increase intercultural interaction at Baruch (or elsewhere), I suggest a focus on meaningful relationships and guided reflection on the process. I would love to hear what Baruch students suggest on how to take greater advantage of our diversity.

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