College denies diversity?

In this blog post I want to bring up something that actually discovered earlier today. A friend of mine transferred from Muhlenberg to Smith College, an all girls college in Massachusetts a couple years ago. When speaking with her today, she told me about a Smith alum, Anne Spurzem, who posted a letter about how adding diversity to Smith College is virtually ruining it. Here are two links that discuss (and present) the letter to the editor:

Update on the Anne Spurzem Letter re: Smith College

So far in our contemporary racism course, we’ve been learning about how racism has shifted through phases throughout the years, and how now-a-days there is much less blatant racism and much more aversive racism. In my mind, I had began even forgetting about blatant racism because I rarely witness it. I’ve been focusing on aversive racism and have been noticing little acts quite frequently. Maybe this is why this letter took me back a little bit. To read someone’s hostility and close mindedness was appalling. Not to mention she successfully included nearly every stereotype about blacks and minorities, claiming that they were “fact”, such as how Smith no longer requires SAT scores because minorities cannot provide high scores, which wouldn’t allow them into the school. Rather than Smith College expanding to a greater, more diverse group of females for greater opportunities and cultural awareness, Anne Spurzem believes that diversity ruins the reputation and integrity of Smith for wealthy, heterosexual, white females.

However I do like how much media attention this letter received because at least it’s getting the topic out there, right? If you look at the comments left on the CNN article it’s refreshing to see disagreement and disdain towards Anne Spurzem. People who believe that diversity benefits colleges and encourage expanding diversity. Do you think this letter should be blown up by the media? Or do you think that might cause those who agree with Spurzem to come out and agree, bringing back more blatant racism? Is that even a bad thing or could it lead to change?

3 thoughts on “College denies diversity?”

  1. This post struck me as very interesting. I, too, am not used to seeing such blatant forms or racism because I have been so focused on picking up on cues of aversive racism. So this post shocked me at first. But it also reminded me that blatant racism still does exist. While I think that people may feel the same way as this letter suggest, I also think that people would also try to be outraged by the letter because people would claim that they disagree because they are not racist and they think everyone should be equal and should be allowed into the school.

  2. I too have focused so much on all the implicit and “modern” forms of racism that I forget that overt racism still exists. I’ve come to realize that although overt racism is not as persistent as it has been in the past, it’s not entirely because of progress. However, I think the approach to racism has drastically changed. With overt racism no longer being “socially acceptable” I think it’s slowly started to morph into ways that are more acceptable. I think the most prevalent one is stereotype jokes. When I hear them, I automatically think about why the individual thinks it’s appropriate to say that and I’m always met with the answer: “it’s a joke. I wasn’t being serious; I’m not racist!” Although we can distinguish between the different types, I think when reflecting on the class there really is more of a connection between the types of racisms than we realize.

  3. I wish there had been more media coverage of the Anne Spurzem letter. I think it certainly would’ve stirred up controversy, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. At the same time I don’t think it could lead to change without people taking the time to talk about the article and its implications.

    I find it to be interesting that the link has since been removed from its place on the Smithsophian website, supposedly because of bandwidth restrictions. I had to find the letter other ways. A few of my friends and I have a joke that we’d much rather deal with a blatant racist than an aversive racist, because at least we know what we’re getting when we have a blatant racist. Sometimes even the aversive racist doesn’t know that they’re racist, but in the case of a blatant racist, everyone knows what to expect. As far as Anne Spurzem is concerned, I am not quite sure that she realizes what’s wrong with what she’s saying. I think she is holding on really tightly to the idea of meritocracy. She believes that these women of color, international students, and lesbians are taking spots away from White people who deserve them. She’s not unlike the many people who want to keep people out of color out of their neighborhoods and school districts. She alludes to the idea that having these underprivileged groups in college is a “noble social objective,” but she struggles with how that correlates with changing the demographics of her alma mater.

    Does racism work on a spectrum? Can we have a moderate aversive racist with an occasional blatant racist tendency? Is it an either or situation?

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