Issues of Race on College Campuses

Issues of Race on College Campuses

While college campuses are not immune to challenges surrounding race, diversity and inclusion, they are also good environments for serious, open and respectful discussions about these issues.

In November, with racial tensions at the University of Missouri making national headlines, Creighton President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, S.J., sent an email to campus and to alumni stating: “Creighton University stands firmly against racism, sexism and hatred in all its forms.” He stressed that the University “is a place for dialogue, understanding and acceptance.”

Roger Bergman, Ph.D., director of Creighton’s Justice and Peace Studies Program and a professor in the Department of Cultural and Social Studies, said in his 22 years of teaching social justice at Creighton that race, or more accurately, white privilege, has been “the most contentious issue” for his students.

“At least for some white students of relative affluence, mention of historical privilege makes them feel defensive, as if they stood accused of being personally racist,” Bergman said. “It’s good news that they find such a label offensive, but it’s bad news that they haven’t yet learned to see themselves as beneficiaries of centuries of white supremacy, of what has been called ‘affirmative action for whites.’

“Education for transformation of such attitudes is at least part of the solution. My students have always, after their first defensive reactions, come to see the larger picture, however difficult it may be to acknowledge it. The point is not to feel guilty. The point is to take responsibility.”