Consider Campus Culture Before Applying

Dickinson has a systemic racism issue. During this past Halloween weekend, a first-year member of the men’s lacrosse team, a white male, dressed up as Colin Kaepernick with a blackface, an Afro wig, and kneeling. Another member of the team, another white male student, was pictured holding a gun to the head of the student dressed as up Kaepernick.

Many students, especially those of color, were outraged. The school’s only response so far was that it was a form of free speech and that the administration was only going look into the gun because guns, toy or real, are prohibited on campus. In a public statement, the school encouraged students to engage in constructive conversations.

As many students saw it, the school administration failed to provide a forceful response. They failed by not calling racism as it is.

There were student-held “discussions” on campus with high attendance. There was a small-scale protest. The lacrosse team insisted to defend its players, calling them nice boys or whatsoever.

So far we have heard nothing from the coach or our new president, who is supposedly dealing with family emergency. It has been two days. People are livid and scared.

The event was consistent with the apathetic culture on this predominantly white, privileged campus. Think hard about the environment that you or your child is about to step into before applying.

What matters most isn’t what a stupid student did, but how the college community on the one hand, and the college administration on the other hand, respond.

I’m not sure how it is “systemic” when one dumb freshman boy did something racist.

Hardly “systemic”
Racism is everywhere and Dickinson is addressing this head on. One good thing about the current political climate is that racism, sexual harrasment, and homophobia are being talked about. So encourage education to end racism, stop talking badly about Dickinson. This kind of dumb racist behavior happens everywhere, he just got caught. Maybe if he’s lucky he’ll get a real education now.

Not even remotely systemic! Dickinson’s class of 2021 is its most diverse in history, and before coming to Dickinson, the college’s new president set up the American University in Nigeria.

As part of an extended freshman orientation program, all first year students must attend a certain number of inclusivity and diversity events. One of those events in October 2017 was called “My Culture is Not Your Costume” or something similar. Prior to the incident, my student received a compassionate and explanatory message from her sports team leaders saying that no offensive Halloween costumes would be tolerated within their team. This is because systemically on campus, there is zero tolerance for racism. As was already pointed out, there was one unfortunate situation this year, but please know that the individual(s) involved did so despite the college’s best efforts at prevention and education.

This isn’t an accurate post about the Halloween incident, Dickinsonian123! The Dean of Students DID address the students’ concerns right away and correctly advised handling such speech WITH speech (and words, even in counter-arguments or simple feedback) can be very powerful – more powerful than any weapon or image.

Also speaking of pictures: the picture you refer to was in reality two different scenarios (from what I understand). The toy gun was not aimed at the student dressed as Colin Kaepernick, but it was wrongly represented this way. And students involved in the racially insensitive incident received suspensions (which is HUGE in higher education and not simply a slap on the wrist as in high school suspensions). So there definitely were repercussions and the administration did not turn a blind eye. In fact, because they believe so firmly in free expression and speech for everyone, they opened up several discussions to the student community to bring all of these issues out into the open. And they are still very willing to discuss difficult and very sensitive issues openly and fairly … unlike many other LACs and universities that ignore such events.

These students have an excellent, progressive administration led by a remarkable figure (President Margee Ensign) who has committed her life to issues of education and social justice throughout the globe. I believe President Ensign knows exactly what racism looks like and has faced it head-on numerous times in Nigeria. She would not shy away from dealing with it (and calling it out!!) at Dickinson or any other college.