Thursday, November 12, 2015

discussion? no! I just want to talk about my pain and you better shutup and listen, or else!

NYTimes |  In some ways, the grievances of black students here mirror those on other campuses across the country. But Missouri, where the state university began accepting black students in 1950 and hired its first black faculty member in 1969, has faced distinct challenges in overcoming racial divisions.

With Kansas City to the west and St. Louis to the east, the state has two urban hubs that account for most of the state’s black residents, about 12 percent of the population. The rest of the state is overwhelmingly rural and white. Both blacks and whites are underrepresented at the university compared with the demographics of the entire state. Eight percent of students are black, while nearly 80 percent are white, compared with about 84 percent of the state.

Educational outcomes at the university have also not always been equal. While about 83 percent of black freshmen return for their sophomore year, nearly 88 percent of whites and 94 percent of Asians do. And black students have the lowest graduation rate of all races, less than 55 percent, compared with 71 percent for whites.

“There’s a culture shock, each group of new students who come in,” said Scott N. Brooks, an associate professor in black studies and sociology at Missouri.

Before coming to the University of Missouri, Ms. Gray said she did not usually view people through a racial lens because her high school was diverse. But her freshman year changed that.

“After that experience, if I was telling my friends a story, I’d be like, ‘Why did this white girl in my class say something?’ ” rather than referring to the girl by her name, said Ms. Gray, now a 21-year-old senior studying health science. “It made me differentiate the two. It made me not feel comfortable around them.”

It is not just black students who complain of cultural isolation.

“I can absolutely see why some students would feel uncomfortable on campus, because as a student coming from a small rural community, I’ve felt like I didn’t belong on this campus,” said Lauren Reagan, a white senior from Jonesburg, a town of about 745 people in eastern Missouri. “It can be hard to find people with the same values and beliefs that understand you.”

Ian Paris, the head of the university’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, a libertarian group, described a confrontation recently when he was signing up students to support Senator Rand Paul in a campus plaza. A group of activists protesting the administration’s handling of racial tensions came onto the plaza shouting their message through a megaphone.

When Mr. Paris complained to a friend about the activists, one of the demonstrators overheard him and told them to “take their white privilege and leave,” Mr. Paris said. A loud argument ensued.