Racial Microaggressions Project releases findings

The University’s Racial Microaggressions Project recently released their findings from a 2011-2012 online survey regarding “microaggressions” students of color face at the University.

The report, “Racial Microaggressions in the Classroom,” defines microaggressions as behaviors or verbal remarks that convey rudeness, insensitivity and demean an individual’s racial heritage or identity.

Actions such as developing critical thinking, increasing intellectual engagement and broadening cultural awareness can enrich higher education, according to the report. However, the report stated, minority students who add to the diversity of the campus often feel unwelcome.

Of the Urbana campus’ 10,800 students of color who could have taken the survey, over 4,800 participated. The 45 percent response rate is significantly higher than the average online survey response rate of 11 percent.

 According to the survey, students considered three qualitative questions: when they felt uncomfortable, insulted, invalidated or disrespected by a comment that had racial overtones, when others subtly expressed stereotypical beliefs about race/ethnicity and when others have suggested that they do not belong at the Urbana campus because of their race or ethnicity.

The majority, fifty-one percent, of students who took the survey reported experiences of stereotyping in the classroom. Twenty-seven percent reported their contributions were minimized, and they were made to feel inferior when they spoke. Thirty-nine percent of students reported feeling “uncomfortable” on campus because of their race; the place most cited for “discomfort” was “fraternity or sorority certified housing.”

The report also details individual anonymous student experiences of racism, both in and out of the classroom. It concludes with strategies for combating microaggressions and a list of recommendations for campus leadership. The importance of students, faculty and administration working together to fight racial microaggressions is also stressed in the report.

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