The Dartmouth Observer

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Monday, September 02, 2002
Estranged Patners

I was reading Thomas Sowell's book Choosing a College online looking for mentions of Dartmouth. The only time that I can find it mentioned is in this context:
"The races in the Northern universities have grown more separate since the sixties," according to Professor Allan Bloom in his best-selling book, The Closing of the American Mind. He is not the only one to notice this disturbing phenomenon. The Dean of Students at Middlebury College reported that—for the first time in her long career—some white freshmen in 1986 asked not to be assigned a blackroom-mate. So did some white freshmen entering in 1987. Racist graffiti and even physical assaults against black students occur on campuses where neither occurred 20 or 30 years ago. In 1987, a black student at Harvard suffered a smashed window and harassing, racist phone calls from white students. The first black student graduated from Harvard more than a hundred years ago and a black student was elected class president 30 years ago by the class of 1958.

Something as intangible as the racial atmosphere on a campus is not as likely to be known to high school counselors, nor do most college guides go into the subject very much, if at all. Moreover, what would constitute a "good" racial environment differs radically between one black student and another. For example, some black students at Stanford University consider it beneficial that there are special living quarters where black students are concentrated, while other black students dislike the idea and resent any pressures to get them them to move into these enclaves. Similarly sharp differences of opinion are found among Asian, Hispanic, and American Indian students.

If you are a black student looking for a campus where your academic and social life involves people from all races, including foreign students, then you may not be happy on a campus where black students continually group together, especially if you get negative reactions from fellow blacks whenever you have lunch or go to a movie with someone who isn't black. But, if what you are looking for is a campus where black students do stick together, for mutual support and for concerted action on campus to achieve their special goals, then you may be happy at the same college where the more "integrationist" black student is uncomfortable or even miserable. The important practical question here is not which position is "right" but which position is you. Talking this over with parents before choosing a college is a good way to help think through your priorities, especially if you and your parents have different views and talk them out.

If you are seeking a campus where black students form a separate community, then Cornell, Dartmouth, Wesleyan, and Davidson are among many that have that kind of environment. But if you are seeking a campus where black students interact socially as individuals in the larger campus community, then you may want to investigate places like Haverford, Whitman, George Mason University, the University of San Diego or the University of Puget Sound.

Isn't this rather disturbing? Who shall join me in writing op/eds to warn the First-Years against self-segregation? More on Zionism tommorrow.