LE_SU07_Perspective - LiberalEducation VOL 93 NO 3 A S S O C I ATION OF AMERICAN COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES 2007 ANNUAL MEETING From Recovery to Renewal

LE_SU07_Perspective - LiberalEducation VOL 93 NO 3 A S S O...

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A S S O C I A T I O N O F A M E R I C A N C O L L E G E S A N D U N I V E R S I T I E S LiberalEducation VOL. 93, NO. 3 SUMMER 2007 From Recovery to Renewal at Tulane University page 6 Saving Higher Education in the Age of Money page 14 Democracy, Diversity, and Presidential Leadership page 22 ALSO INSIDE: On the Practicality of a Liberal Education page 28 Faculty Accountability and Cultural Inclusiveness page 32 A Campus, Not a Sanctuary page 46 2007 ANNUAL MEETING
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32 L IBERAL E DUCATION S UMMER 2007 J ULIAN IS AN A FRICAN A MERICAN college stu- dent. All of his professors, and the over- whelming majority of his classmates, are white. In fact, as he approaches the end of his senior year, Julian has not had a single in- structor who was not white. He and his same- race peers often meet at the black culture center on campus to decompress and re- flect on instances of marginality that repeat- edly arise in their predominantly white classroom environments. Their frustration at the cultural negligence with which their pro- fessors approach teaching and learning is among the usual topics of conversation. Hav- ing somehow survived almost four years at a university that remained unresponsive to his cultural needs and interests, Julian has emerged as a mentor and self-appointed peer adviser for younger African American stu- dents who gather at the black culture center for support. Julian actively encourages the other African American students to assume in- creased levels of cultural ownership of their educational journeys. Specifically, when they complain about the absence of Africentric perspectives in the curriculum, their profes- sors’ blatant disregard for multiculturalism in class discussions, and their disappointment with the limited opportunities to learn about their cultural selves and diverse others in the classroom, Julian discusses his approach to “filling in the gaps” in his own educational experience. He supplements assigned course readings with culturally relevant books and essays written by black authors and other scholars of color. Despite having asked several of his white professors for help, Julian has had to search for this body of knowledge on his own. Also, he spent the spring semester of his junior year studying in West Africa. Julian pursued this opportunity not because a profes- sor encouraged him to do so, but because he realized on his own that this would likely be his only formal opportunity in college to learn about the history and origins of his people. He often shares photos and details from the trip and encourages other African American stu- dents to seek out similar educational and cul- tural ventures. Aside from advice on making curricula more culturally relevant for themselves, Julian also teaches his younger peers how to speak up for themselves and demand that their voices be represented in classroom dialogues. His ap- proach entails the voluntary provision of a black perspective on course topics, the unso- licited sharing of his own life story as it relates
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