Racial Tensions Characterize Fall 2013

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The fall 2013 semester has witnessed several shocking incidents of racial discrimination and activism, bringing the racial tension on college campuses to the forefront. In late November, several white San Jose State University students were charged for brutally harassing their black roommate for months. At UCLA, a group of young African American men spoke out, through social media video, about their relatively low numbers and their reputation on campus.

This article, from Inside Higher Ed, explores the perspective of Beverly Daniel Tatum, the President of Spelman College and a clinical psychologist with a focus on race relations. She takes a look at the racial tensions we witnessed this fall and explores possible ways to address them.

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What incidents of racial tension or discrimination has your student government experienced or responded to? How did you address the situations? What strategies, techniques, or responses were most effective?

What do you do as student government leaders to promote meaningful diversity on your campus? Do you work with other groups on campus to educate the student body? Do you advocate for minority students with the administration? How do you ensure that your student leaders are well educated in topics concerning diversity?

How can we increase student voter participation?

At ASGSCU, we have very, very low participation in student government elections. Between 10 and 15 percent of the student body participates in the majority of elections. While a small group of students, typically the friends of the candidates, care very much and avidly campaign, the majority of the school is unaware elections are even happening. We use all forms of media on campus to advertise elections, but still, they never seem to reach student’s radar.

Do other student governments have this same issue? What have you done to address it? Are there any strategies or techniques that have worked well?