Reflective Essay: Jonathan Oh

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Reflective Essay: My First Semester in Trinity College and Change


I was very annoyed when I got my schedule for 2013 Fall semester in Trinity College. I literally didn’t get any of my first choice for my classes. Especially, I was a bit disappointed about my seminar because I wanted to take “Law on Street” as my first year seminar since I am going to major in law field. However, later I read the description of “Color and Money” first year seminar, I changed my mind; it sounded very interesting. Briefly, it was the class about the relationship between races and social classes. Awesome! I was very excited. I thought I knew well about race diversity and social class. I am from Boston, which is racially very diverse, and I have a lot of friends with different racial backgrounds. I was very Americanized and thought I knew enough.

The biggest reason why I chose Trinity over other schools was that I wanted to experience traditional American higher-education. I did have some great education back in Boston, but I really wanted to experience traditional liberal art college. I wanted to experience “white” culture of America. I was afraid if I would not fit into that culture, but I really wanted to live in a different place. Fortunately, I somehow was getting along with people in Trinity. I couldn’t find anything wrong through my naïve eyes. My first semester went by a quick.

The first year seminar, “Color and Money”, was “shocking”. All the data and books from the seminar were mind blowing. I had a feeling that racism still exists but never “learned” in an academic way. Since first year seminar is one kind of writing classes, I had to learn how to analyze and write down the topic logically. I read professional articles and several statically data about racism and social class differences in college campuses. I had to interview some students about their real life experiences in Trinity. After the analization, I realized that there is still some separation on the United States of America and even in such a prestigious college, Trinity College. It was the first time I ever “understood” the relationship between race and social class, not just felt.

The biggest fact I learned through “Color and Money” seminar is the relationship between race and social class. I knew there were some relationships between race and social class, except I never thought about it enough before. During the seminar, it was clear how so many data indicates financial gap between whites and non-whites. For example, throughout interview transcript analyze of Trinity Student about their race and social classes, I learned that more than 70% of the non-white students get financial aid while less than 25% of the white students get it (Dougherty). I learned that one of the reasons why non-white students cannot hang out with rich white kids is that non-white students cannot afford the trend, such as famous brand clothes. The seminar woke me up and taught me the fact that there is still a social, financial gap between white and non-white.

Understanding racism changes my entire idea. In my school in Boston, it was not easy to clearly see racism since majority of the students were non-white. However, after I moved into Trinity College, in which more than a half of the students are white, I started to see: how “physically” non-whites and whites have distances. For example, I never realized that there are “white students” tables and “minority students” table on the dining hall before. I never realized that there is almost no non-white students on the fraternity before. I never realized that people tend to hang out with the same race as theirs before. I started paying attention why that is happening. I started trying to apply studies I learned from the class, such as “Racial Identity Theory”, which explains how individuals start forming emotional connection to their ethnicity (Tatum). Before the Color and Money class, I barely realized the existence of racism between students: the seminar woke me up.

Eventually, even my way of thinking changed, too. I have been finding myself reacting totally different from the beginning of the freshman year. For example, whether it’s a joke or not, I get offended when someone uses the term, “local”, negatively. In Trinity College, the term “local” means much more than just neighborhood because people living around Trinity College are mainly minorities and relatively poor. The term “local” is basically a gentle way to mock minorities, just like “n words”. I found myself avoiding the usage of those terms. I used to not understand why some minorities are mad at whites. For example, when I watched the “Skin Deep” video, in which both white and non-white college students gather around and talk about their life experiences (Reid), I did not understand why some minority students were really angry at white students and the society. The “Color and Money” seminar has helped me to understand racism so much that I changed my way of thinking toward racism; I even started being by their side.


A big change in life can transform one’s point of view. When I decided to come to Trinity College, I knew something inside of me would change. However, I did not my entire life value and attitude toward racial and social classes would change this quick. Not only improving my writing skills, the seminar “Color and Money” has taught me how America still got some social problems to solve and how I should react to them. I am now really glad to Trinity College (even though I still complain how I didn’t get any of my first choice classes) not letting me take “Law on Street”. It was the best second choice I have had so far.



Work Cited

Tatum, Beverly Daniel. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and Other Conversations about Race. New York: Basic, 1997. Print.

Frances Reid, Skin Deep (Iris Films, 1995)

Dougherty, Jack. All Interviews. 18 Nov. 2013. Raw data. Trinity College, Hartford.

Varieties and Trinity College

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Varieties and Trinity College

Trinity College is where all different kinds of people meet up and spend 4 years together. As the importance of varieties is getting bigger and bigger, students get to meet different people easily. People may meet some people they have never met before and share precious time. However, even though Trinity College suggests friendly relationships with people no matter what racial, social, and financial background they have, there are still many difficulties and differences between the students.

There are many different ways to categorize the students of Trinity College. Some may suggest the subjects the students are majoring in can be a good factor of grouping while some may recommend the clubs the students are in can be a better one. While analyzing the differences of the students in social sense, the race and the social class of the students would be good factors. With the factors and several other interesting patterns from the groups of students, which will be referred later, one can realize that non-white students in Trinity College are relatively ashamed of their backgrounds, unlike other white students.


In Trinity College, one fifth of the students are non-white. The President Jones says, “Trinity had also tried to improve diversity by increasing its financial aid at a time when other parts of the budget are being cut” (Hu, 1). Also, Trinity College has been “committed to doing everything humanly possible for the diversity of the students’ body” (Hu, 2). Yet Trinity does have one of the highest acceptance rates among liberal arts colleges for black students, who make up 5 % of the student body, according to a survey by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. In 2006, according to New York Times, Trinity accepted 52.8 % of black applicants, compared to 42.8 % of all applicants. In comparison, Amherst accepted 48.3 % of black applicants, Swarthmore accepted 37.4 %, and Wesleyan accepted 34.7 %. However, despite Trinity’s effort, it has significantly a lower minority population ratio than at other similar sized liberal art college, such as Williams (28%), Amherst (31%), and Wesleyan (26%). Why? Why is the percentage of racial minorities in Trinity significantly low? The school committee try its best for non-whites, as the President Jones say. It’s easier for non-white (especially African American) students to get in. All these data show that non-white students “avoid” Trinity College.

Why do non-white students avoid Trinity College? Again, the school committee is doing its best to recruit students from non-white racial bases; perhaps, the institution itself does not have a significant problem. Possibly the students and the atmosphere of the campus have some reasons why Trinity College is avoided by non-white. To find out what is there, the students of Jack Dougherty’s Freshman Seminar had interviews with 18 students in Trinity College and analyzed the transcripts of the interviews.

The reason why non-white students tend to avoid Trinity College, a great higher education institute that tries to provide a lot of opportunities for minority’s students is that they are ashamed of their races. There are total eight white students on the list of interviewers. Seven out of the eight white students are concerned with self-presentation. However, only a half of the ten non-white students are concerned with self-presentation. While white students are enthusiastically doing many stuffs and have influence on the campus, non-white students would not do anything. Out of the 18 interviewers, 15 of them agree that there are high racial barriers in the campus, which prevents the mix of students. As Luisa from the interview says, “everything is separated by race here.” (Dougherty, 9).

There is a theory how people group themselves by race: Racial Identity Development theory. In her book “Why Are All Black Kids in the Cafeteria”, Beverly Daniel Tatum explains the Racial Identity Development theory. According to the theory, there are five different steps how one developed his racial identity: pre-encounter, encounter, immersion/emersion, internalization, and internalization-commitment.

Pre-encounter is the stage where “a child absorbs many of the beliefs and values of the dominant culture, including the idea that it is better to be White. The stereotypes, omissions, and distortions…” (Tatum, 55). In this stage, racial identity has “not been realized…and not yet under examination” (Tatum, 55). Encounter is the stage where the individual experience a certain level of racism, which leads to self-segregation and an active desire to find those who have shared experiences. On these first two steps, students start believing socially dominant opinions, such as being white is superior.

Immersion/Emersion is the phase in which races other than one’s own becomes irrelevant. He or she begins to act on desires of self-segregation and this phase is usually “characterized by a strong desire to surround oneself with symbols of one’s racial identity” (Tatum, 76). “In many ways, the person at the immersion/emersion phase is unlearning the internalized stereotypes about his or her own group and is redefining a positive sense of self (Tatum, 76).

Internalization is the point that one begins to develop racial pride and a sense of security, which establishes “meaningful relationships across group boundaries” (Tatum, 76). In Internalization-Commitment stage, one begins to advocate for beliefs pertaining to his/her race/ethnicity and “perceive and transcend race” (Tatum, 77). What stage they are in these Racial Identity Development theory, will determine child-rearing tactics, where they live, who they associate with. According to the theory, racial identities get formed, by step by step. People get emotionally attached to their racial groups. This theory can explain why people feel comfortable and tend to get along around the group with the same racial identity as theirs.


As an example, Kaylie’s interview would show that there are high race barriers in the campus. Kaylie is a half Hispanic and Black student from a big city. She used to go to a public school, but then later transferred to a private boarding school. She explains herself as a lower middle class child. The reason why Kaylie’s interview is interesting, is that she explains herself as “adopted to the white culture” (Dougherty, 37). She says she is very “white”, according to herself and her friends; more interestingly, both her non-white friends and white friends claim so. The way she talks, her music taste, the clothes she wears, and group of friends she hangs out with, are very “white”. Her life is a life of minority in Trinity in a nutshell. Even though she hangs out a lot and does several extracurricular activities, she claims that “I am different… At the end of the day, there are something that doesn’t change between her (Kaylie’s white friend) and me (Dougherty, 37).

It’s not hard to find the same case out of Trinity College. There is this video, “Skin Deep”, in which several students from several different college gather around and talk about their races. There are white students, black students, Hispanic students, and Asian students; however, the conversation somehow flows as white vs. non-white. In the video, Khanh, whose ethnicity is Taiwanese, says “while you guys (white students) are grown up to love yourself, I was grown up to hate myself and be ashamed of myself” (Skin Deep, 15:12). Khanh says this in a very extreme way, but perhaps he has a point. The non-white students seem to agree with what Khanh says and later share their experiences about how unfair their life has been. As another example, Freda, an African American, yells, “people are going to hate you because you (general term) are white!” (Skin Deep, 17:20). Perhaps, minorities’ students feel much more lonely and unfair than people can imagine.


Social class differences can cause separation between the students in Trinity College. How does social class difference in the campus directly affect the students? Race may be a different factor because people can clearly see the differences of individual in their physical appearances right away, but how does the social class work difference work? It’s not like there is a law that separate lower class from the society; welcome to the Democratic society and the 21st century! Surprisingly, according to the students, money can decide what kind of friends you have.

If one cannot afford the trend, she may be behind everything. Yvonne, a white student from Trinity, from the interview says, “If I like if my hair not done or if I’m wearing sweatpants and uggs or something like that um something that does not look name brand and put together people, people are less likely to held doors open for me, people are likely to speak to me like in a cord of people, people are less likely to acknowledge me whereas…” (Dougherty, 20). Perhaps, social class can be seen through one’s physical appearance. According to Yvonne, people don’t even open their mind for you unless you look fancy enough in all those trendy brands. Not just clothes, but doing anything also requires some fortune. Kaylie from the interview also says that “anything needs money. Going out, going to the party…everything needs money” (Dougherty, 36). Lack of money (lower social class) can limit one’s social life in Trinity.

Average Caucasian Americans are richer than average non-white Americans; however, it’s even worse in Trinity. The problem is that, since Trinity College gives more financial aid for minority students, it’s more likely that non-white students are less fortune than white students. For example, while six of the ten non-white students (60%) get financial aid, only three out of the eight white students (37.5%) get financial aid. The equation white is richer than non-white does not work all the time, but in general sense, the white students in Trinity College are relatively richer than non-white students, which causes social class differences between white students and non-white students.

Trinity College is a higher education institute that has a tradition of almost 200 years. It has many famous alumni members and is well known for its great academy. However, as society changes fast, Trinity needs to transform itself. In Trinity College, many non-white students feel afraid of joining the major groups; perhaps, they can’t. The racial and social differences between students must be solved in positive results, as soon as possible. No students should be ashamed and afraid of joining major groups in the campus only because of his backgrounds.

Works Cited

Hu, Winnie. “An Inward Look At Racial Tension At Trinity College.” – N.p., 18 Dec. 2006. Web. 02 Dec. 2013.

Reid, Frances. Skin Deep. Berkeley, CA: Iris Films, 1995.

Tatum, Beverly Daniel. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and Other Conversations about Race. New York: Basic, 1997. Print.

Trinity College. “Protesting Hate at Trinity College, April 2011,”. Hartfrod: Archival Documents and Manuscript Collections, 1 Apr. 2011.


Exercise E

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Exercise: E

Dane Ray is a student of Texas A&M, from Texas. If Tatum watched Dane talking in “Skin Deep” video, she would place him as in the “internalization” stage among those five Cross stages. It is at this point that one begins to develop racial pride and a sense of security, which establishes “meaningful relationships across group boundaries” (Tatum, 76). Dane clearly shows his pride of his family (racial group) and his race (white). He says, “My family, who I am… We are white. I am proud of my family. And I am going to be proud of my family because they are my family, and they make me who I am” (Skin Deep, 31:11). He later seems offended when others were having negative opinions against white race. He could relatively easily develop his racial identity early because he has grown up in the white town, and has not had many contacts with other non-white races. Tatum would put Dane Ray on the internalization stage.



Screenshot (5)




Tatum, Beverly Daniel. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and Other Conversations about Race. New York: Basic, 1997. Print.


“Skin Deep.” N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.

Jonathan Oh

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Jonathan Oh Persuassive Essay: The Admission Process of The College and Applicants


The Admission Process of The College and Applicants’ Merit
The admission process is now done. The admission officers spent about a month to decide whom they let into The College. Out of fifteen applications, the admissions officers had to choose three. The complicated selection process included checking each applicant’s quality, which was very time consuming. After the process was done, the officers were asked to answer several questions about why and how the admission and financial aid process worked, how the selection system can be improved, through the point of view of merit matters (on the other word, color-blind). However, merit matters (or color-blind) in this process do not mean only one’s grades or standardized test scores. The dictionary definition of merit is: “the quality of being particularly good or worthy” ( The process of accepting students into The College requires checking not only one’s grades and standardized test scores, but also extracurricular, skin color, background culture, where she or he is from, and financial status, all facts that can affect the admission decision.
The admission officers were first asked, “Was the admissions and financial aid process legal?” (Dougherty 1). Since the importance of higher education is continually growing, the admission officers of The College have worked on the process very carefully. The college admissions process has become a serious and sensitive social issue. For example, in the “Grutter vs. Bollinger” case, which was brought to even the Supreme Court of the United States, Barbara Brutter, a female Michigan resident, filed the suit, “alleging that respondents had discriminated against her on the basis of race in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment” (Grutter vs. Bollinger). She also claimed “that she was rejected because the Law School uses race as a “predominant” factor” (Grutter vs. Bollinger). The admission officers of The College were aware of the importance of a fair, effective admission system, in order to prevent several complicated troubles.
They created the “Grand Total Rating” (GTR) system, which can grade each applicant’s academic achievement, extra curriculums, diversity, and legacy. Each section has a different scale: academic achievement section has one to nine points, extra curriculum section has one to nine points, diversity section has one to three points, and having legacy section has zero to one point. The seventeen admission officers of The College reviewed each student and transferred each student’s general qualities into statistic data through the GTR system. Obviously, a student with a higher GTR is more likely to receive the acceptance letter than an applicant with a lower GTR.
The reason why a student with a higher GTR point is “more likely” to get accepted is because the admission process and the financial aid process are two separated things. This is how the financial aid process worked: the admission officers calculated the “Grand Total Rating” (GTR) of each student, and then the financial aid officers would decide whether the applicant is worth spending money for and The College’s budget could afford each applicant, highly based on the applicants’ GTR points.
Unfortunately, The College is not a need-blind school, which means that each student’s financial status can be an important factor of the admission process. If the student does not seem financially able to afford The College, and The College cannot give enough money for the student to come to The College, the student may not get the acceptance letter. By the amount of the financial aid each student needed, the student might be considered after applicant who had the lower GTR.

Throughout the whole process, the officers have tried their best to make sure that every single step of the admission process was legal, effective, and “reasonable”. For example, one may argue that it is unfair to include diversity section on the GTR system. Yes, the officers did add “diversity”, which can indicate to students’ given, physical appearance, such as skin colors. However, the Supreme Court of the United States declared that “admissions program that gave special consideration for being a certain racial minority did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment (Grutter vs. Bollinger); in America, it is officially fair to count minorities’ skin colors in the admission office process of college. Furthermore, the skin color does not indicates only the given, physical appearance. Several thousand years ago, when humans did not have scientific transportations and lived in one area for several generations, skin colors meant more than simple physical appearance; it referred to the environment, religion, ideology, and culture. Even though the meaning of “diversity” has got weaker than ever, it still means one’s cultural background. When the College admission officers included “diversity” section on the GTR system, they wanted to have different kinds of students from different kinds of culture.
As another example, one may argue that it’s unfair that a student with a higher GTR point can be accepted after a student with a lower GTR point due to their financial status. The College is clearly a non-need-blind private educational institute, which surely states that it cannot afford every single student’s needs. It is very frustrating to reject a great student with many talents only because of his or her financial situation. However, if one can’t come to The College because he or she cannot afford it, why would the admission office want to send the acceptance letter to him or her? It sounds ideal and wonderful if the budget of The College could afford all the applicants; however, in reality, it is impossible. Furthermore, The College is a “private” institute and has a right to use its money to whatever it wants to use. The admission officers wanted the best results and balance they could have.

The new admission system worked. The officers sent the regular acceptance letters to four of the applicants and late-acceptance letters (waiting-list letters) to five of them. Out of the nine applicants who received the acceptance letters, three decided to enroll, a fact that makes the enrollment rate about 33.3%; it was the similar percentage to one the officers originally aimed for: 30%. The use of financial aid did not go over the limit. The amount of available financial aid is primarily $70,000, and the admission office spent only $55, 611 totals. These stats indicates that the new system did its job.
The new admission system accepted a variety of students. Caitlin Quinn, the first choice of all the officers, who is a white female student from California with wonderful academic achievement, decided to enroll. Jazmine Hope-Martine, a female student from Massachusetts with outstanding extracurricular experience, decided to enroll. Daniel Juberi, a white male student from Massachusetts, who is recruited as a men’s basketball player, decided to enroll. All the incoming students have strong academic ability; all of them were at least top 20% of the class rank. Juberi is from a public school, while Quinn and Hope-Martine are from private schools. Quinn is from the West Coast, while the other two are from the East Coast. The admission process this year, with a new system, helped The College accept students with different, great qualities.

However, there have been several points that could have been better. For example, the GTR system was a bit vague, especially about the diversity section. It was not clearly defined what “diversity” meant. It could have meant applicants’ skin colors, where they are from, how wealthy their families are, and what kind of different talents they have. The GTR system should have made it clear what the exact meaning of “diversity” was before it influenced the admission process. Before some applicants have questioning the vagueness of the diversity section, the officers should clarify it. If they do not define the exact meaning of “diversity”, the GTR system may have to face some conflicts due to its racial issue.
Also, the officers should have sent the acceptance letters to more than four students at the first place. The College eventually had 33.3% of the enrollment rate, which is not bad, but if the officers thought more realistically, the enrollment rate could have been a higher; once students are in the waiting list, they are less likely to enroll. The officers did not have enough time to prevent this waiting list issue. However, to improve the reputation of The College, they will have to spend more time carefully, creating new system that can prevent the admission process from overusing waiting list system.

Despite the grueling process, the admission officers of The College tried their best to achieve the best result possible to balance between the diversity, financial aid, academic quality of students, and school reputation. Not only because they wanted good grades from their boss, Jack Dougherty, but also because it was the job they wanted to do. There are several points that can be improved. There are several parts that must be better. However, the officers did great job to find new enrolling students, based on students’ merit, “the quality of being particularly good or worthy” (

Dougherty, Jack. “Persuasive Essay: Debating Policy in The College Simulation.” Color and Money. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2013.
“Grutter v. Bollinger.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 09 Oct. 2012. Web. 28 Sept. 2013.
“Merit.”, n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2013.