Reflective Change Essay

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My expectations for my first semester at Trinity were relatively typical: class, homework, parties, and new friendships. I arrived having chosen the two kids I was to live with but beyond that aspect, the social scene, classes and what daily life in general would be like were a complete mystery. I entered Trinity with the mindset, as illustrated by Tatum, of many white students who had little exposure to people who were of different races and socioeconomic classes – unaware of the impacts of race and economic standing, and assuming that there would be ample racial equality and interaction.[1] My background is likely why I was unable to see the pretentious nature of many Trinity students that, as I have come to realize, alienates students who are not of significant means. I am from a predominately white, wealthy area and attended boarding school, which only exposed me to kids of even higher financial standing than those that kids would interact with at most public and even private day schools. As a result, I was blind to the pretentiousness so abundant on Trinity’s campus, as well as the prevalence of racial segregation.

The first class that I attended in my college career was our seminar. I walked through the threshold of the classroom believing that we would be discussing the effects of color and money solely in regard to the college admissions process and possibly some of its effects on society as a whole; my expectations, however, were completely false. After only a few short weeks, our seminar began to illustrate the depths to which race and social class penetrate life, even on Trinity’s campus.

The first activities that actually forced me to realize the gravity of the role race can play in a person’s life were the debates we conducted when we decided whom to admit to “The College.” Sometimes in order to influence one’s opinion, they must experience what is being discussed. In the initial stages of the activity, I was still in the mindset that, while race and financial standing certainly played a roll in who was admitted to institutions of higher education, college admission was primarily a meritocracy. But, after leaving class having completed “Decision Day” I was left pondering how crucial the factors discussed by Stevens in Creating a Class are. We had held discussions and other students had given examples of their applicability on Trinity’s campus, but having to assume the mindset of an admissions officer attempting to create a truly diverse freshman class, and having to decide between applicants based on their ethnicity or whether we could afford to admit them to “The College” put the effects of race and socioeconomic status in a position where I could truly understand them. I began to realize disadvantages that students considered to be “minorities” or who were unable to pay for college were faced with.

Although my eyes had begun to be opened to the issues that we discussed in class, what truly started a change in my way of thinking was when we discussed whether college was still the gateway to success. Part of the “American Dream” was attending college so one could then get a good job and live a financially stable and therefore happy life. However, one key point was brought up that jolted this traditional American thought process and changed my outlook on the stratification of wealth and success in the United States: the poverty cycle. Our seminar illustrated how those in the lower socioeconomic classes, especially minorities, were denied access to respectable education, guidance through the college process and programs like SAT tutoring that advantage mainly white upper-middle and upper class students. It was because of this, we determined, that many minorities and those hailing from areas of low economic status were often unable to even graduate from high school, much less attend college or realize the success illustrated in the stereotypical “American Dream.”

Perhaps the most lasting effect to my way of thinking is my newfound ability to notice the small things that many minority students mention as being issues at Trinity. I believe this probably stems from our readings by Tatum, Lee, Armstrong and Hamilton. Initially the theories discussed in their books were slightly confusing, but after clarification in class, I was actually able to identify them while walking around campus. The most interesting point brought up from our readings was how many white students are blind to the effects of racism and social class.[2] I began to understand that terms such as “local” that I had previously seen as mere descriptions also carried a deeper racial meaning behind them. However, out of all our readings the one that I found most beneficial – specifically regarding applicability on Trinity’s campus – was Paying for the Party. Although the book centers on how women of different financial backgrounds take different paths through college, I found that their theories could extend to people of all ethnicities and genders. As we had discussed in class, I noticed the segregation of where students in Mather, but I never had questioned how that might affect one’s path through college. Assuming that students sit with their friends and therefore those are same people that they would “go out” with on the weekends, study and just casually hang out with, I realized that Armstrong and Hamilton’s discoveries have deep social implications that are extremely applicable at Trinity.[3]

My favorite activity that we engaged in, and the one that I think most influenced my way of thinking, were the peer interviews. It is one thing to notice topics discussed in class around campus and hear issues brought to light by peers in seminar discussions; but hearing those same issues brought to light by other students, completely out of context and unaware of what we have learned in our seminar, brought a much stronger meaning to what we had been discussing in our seminar. As I read through the interview transcriptions I was subconsciously identifying patterns and relating responses to theories we had learned about in our readings. After completing the interview essay I sat and thought about how prevalent everything we had studied and discussed actually was on my college campus. I think I had actually, finally realized just how significant a person’s race and social class influences their entire lives. It effects college prospects, college social life, friends, job prospects and considerably more.

Having experienced my first semester of college and life at Trinity I feel that my way of thinking has certainly been changed by our seminar. I am no longer oblivious to the pretentious environment that seems to have permeated all aspects of life at Trinity, or the barriers that make not only just attaining a college education, but one’s social life at college more difficult for those of lower socioeconomic standing or those or who are considered “minorities.” This seminar has also sparked a personal interest in examining the social affects of wealth stratification on Trinity’s campus, a topic that I would certainly be interested in studying in more depth in the future. I found that the seminar’s open discussion platform, with our professor and student advisor steering the conversation in the proper direction, made it considerably easier to grasp concepts than in my other lecture based classes. In conclusion, I have actually been a true beneficiary of what we learned in this seminar. As it has displayed to me the considerable effects of racial and socioeconomic status on students both in the United States today and at Trinity, opened my eyes to issues at Trinity that I had previously been unable to see, and exposed me to an entirely new method of thinking.

[1] Tatum, Beverly Daniel. Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? and other conversations about race. New York: BasicBooks, 1997.

[2] Tatum, Beverly Daniel. Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? and other conversations about race. New York: BasicBooks, 1997.

[3] Armstrong, Elizabeth A., and Laura T. Hamilton. Paying for the party: how college maintains inequality. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013.

More Than A Stereotype

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More Than A Stereotype

The excitement of being a “college kid” started the day I found out I was a Questbridge Scholar. When I found out I’d be attending a school that costs a quarter of a million dollars to attend over four years, I cried. Never in a million years did I think I’d attend a nationally renowned school whose architecture resembles Hogwarts and tuition fee for one year is enough for four years of college back home. I finally had been presented the opportunity to make something of myself and see the world from a different perspective. The only problem is that the looking glass used here is shattered. Only what is wanted to be seen is seen. The world around me changes completely every time I step on new soil. As a non New Englander, low income minority student, adjusting to college life has been a much bigger struggle than I had ever imagined.  The excitement of being a “college kid” faded within a week of actually stepping on campus. Luckily, it has turned into a learning experience, an empowering experience, rather than a hinderance through my participation in Jack Dougherty’s Color and Money, Race and Social Class seminar. I’ve had my eyes opened to how big of a role racism and classism still play within society; The society that rules the lives of the students of Trinity College.

Everything begins on the Long Walk. My first pass down the path excluded the return of hello’s and smiles and I tried to figure out why it continuously happened. At first I assumed that person was having a really bad day. However, that seemed less likely once I realized everyone made the same face when I passed. My next idea was that it’s a northern thing not to naturally be friendly to people. I figured it was just a lack of the southern hospitality that I miss so much. But that idea was flushed when I saw a difference in the response I was given. There was a time when a white student was walking in front of me and, walking towards me was a different white student. When the two met each other’s gaze a smile and wave were exchanged, but when eye contact was made with me, the student’s head went up and away, as if Superman was flying by. Immediately after the student was out of my peripheral vision, I turned around to see the student look straight forward again. This straining of the neck is at times supplemented with fake texting or completely looking down just to avoid eye contact. No matter which avoidance method is chosen, it happens repeatedly, day in and day out. With closed minds comes closed eyes, but it takes the latter to solidify the existence of  the first.

I’ve realized that many students here are extremely opinionated and stick to their opinions without faltering. In  a normal situation, I’d appreciate that and commend their strong willedness, but these opinions are painful to hear because they’re about my race. For example, a term that is extremely loaded and just tossed around on campus is “local”. This term is used as a noun and usually accompanied by “Hartford”, which is used as an adjective. Whenever someone refers to a “Hartford local” they mean an african american or hispanic person who appears to be of a lower class and thus from right outside of campus. This is true because the only time you hear about a local is if it’s a “minority thing”. For example, a freshman posted on the Facebook page that she’d lost her speakers and the first comment was “just saw a hartford local selling the exact same speakers on broad st. hope I could help!”. The comments continued and a back and forth banter ensued until a Mexican-American student , Allen Rios, stepped in and pointed out the fact that what they were saying only “worsens the discrimination problem we have on campus”. The previous commenters decided to verbally attack Allen through vicious comments and eventually told the student “I’d rather not get notifications from you so you can stop commenting please…”. That’s when Allen reached out for help and sent me a text saying “look at the ignorance on the freshman page”, so I logged on and read through it all. They claimed to be just joking, so I decided to show them just how funny they weren’t. I reminded them that a joke is something that “provokes laughter; a witticism”. However, what they’d said was a slur stemmed from ignorance. That’s when the attack turned to me. Don’t you love how much power people really do have behind a keyboard? The power is evident because the day after this occurred, Allen ran into one of the commenters, who immediately looked away once eye contact was made. Moral of the story: People don’t listen. Not because they can’t, but because they choose not to.

It hurts my heart to know that the opportunity for me to further my education at such a great school has come with the burden of rejection, due to who I am. I cannot control my skin color, the amount of money my mom makes, or the state I’m from, yet those are my defining characteristics. I am not one to sit back and let anyone trample all over me, or the people I’m forced to represent considering I’m one of few black students on campus. As a collective, the minorities on campus have begun to cower down and let whatever is said be said because if we speak up, we’re told to shut up. However, I’m not afraid to make myself heard, to say the things people don’t want to hear, to be the voice for a group that is constantly shot down. If you decide to put in your headphones and turn up your music so that all you hear are your own opinions, fine, I’ll just keep talking until you take the headphones out. See, it wasn’t until I sat through each discussion and really listened to my classmates that I saw the sheltered, close-minded, world this campus grew up in. It’s not their fault, however I want to make sure they don’t leave this place as ignorant as they came in. The easiest way for me to do that is tell them my story and show them what it’s like to walk a day in my shoes. I’m more than people expect me to be. I’m more than a stereotype.

Reflective Essay

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Reflective essay

I came from Peru with a completely different perspective of my race and social class. Back home I was used to being part of the dominant majority, as my skin color was considered “white” to most, compare to the skin color of the Peruvian indigenous population.  Both of my last names gave me an inherited privilege and the clothes I wore, where I lived, and where I went to school made me part of the dominant class.  When I arrived at Trinity, and through my first weeks attending the Color & Money seminar, I realized that I quickly transitioned from the dominant class and race to a minority. The Color & Money seminar not only made me much more aware about race and social class, but it also helped to walk through the path of discovering the new connotations that my race had at Trinity.

As I read Tatum’s book I could identify myself with the racial identity development theory, and could see how I was going through each of those stages.  I could see my self-going through the encounter stage, as I learned to identify my self as part of the Hispanic minority, and yet, not feel part of the Hispanic community on campus.  Most of the Hispanic community at Trinity is going through their own identity process, where they are trying to figure out what being a Latino means, but I have already figured that out. Being Hispanic is part of my personality, is rooted into my soul, and because I have lived my whole life in a South American country, surrounded by the Hispanic culture, I know that being Hispanic is much more than J.Lo, reggeton music and speaking Spanish. In fact, my live back home was part of an Americanized bubble that prevented me from having the kind of Hispanic experience that makes you want to listen to Celia Cruz every day, 24/7.  This seminar made me realize that although I cannot identify my self with them, I am still haunted by the stereotypes that the Hispanic community has. Through the interviews performed, I realized that most of the interactions at Trinity are determined by first impressions, which are usually highly influenced by the stereotype and pre-concepts of a certain race or social class.  It was not until I participated in this seminar that I realized all the privileges I had back home, and how very intertwined they were with the “white American culture”.

The different material offered to us in class made me more conscious about the implications that race and social class have in America. As we read Steven’s book, I realized that education is highly linked with social class, which is also linked to race. Coming from Peru, I thought that America, “the land of opportunities”, lived up to its nickname. However, I came to realize, that while meritocracy is indeed applied, it takes much more effort and merit for minority students to triumph academically and in every aspect of life in general than it takes to white people. It was not until the role was inverted and I was part of the minority group that I came to understand that all the privileges that I had back home, were entailed with my race and social class.  With the readings that we had assigned in this seminar I understood that race and social class are highly linked, and that therefore, peer interactions are based on social class as much as they are on race.

As Abreu explained in his letter, racism is present on campus, and not necessarily or exclusively as an attack among students, but as the reaction towards the people from Hartford. From the racially constructed term, locals, to racist acts from campus security officials, Trinity is still displaying racism through its corridors. However, even the racist acts are still encapsulated to stereotypes. Abreu explain and asks for a change in the mentality of people. He says “ignorance” is what drives people to commit racial acts. After being part of this seminar, I strongly agree with him. I believe that while students may come with these pre-conceptions from home, there is no indication that they cannot change them with education at school. I believe that this school has the potential to broaden students’ horizons, in regards with racial matters; that it has the capacity to disregards the stereotypes that there are in society.  However, I do not agree with promoting more cross-cultural, diverse events is the solution, but rather having more seminars like Color & Money, which encourage open dialogue about racial matters is. I believe that peaceful, subtle actions should be taken to change this situation, instead of aggressive, forced actions like “diversity events”.

After taking part of this seminar, and after experiencing being part of the minority group, my views on race and social class has changed radically. I now believe that merit should be the main way of progressing both socially and economically, and that race should not cluster people in a specific context or be a barrier that prevents people to progress.  I have also come to understand that every person is going through their own racial identity development process, and that each person has its own insecurities, advantages and disadvantages that come with their race and social class. Therefore, I have learned to be very delicate and accurate when talking about race and social class to avoid offending anyone. Finally, this seminar has taught me that racial and socio-economic differences are not reason to separate people and that the only way to progress into a race-blind, social-class-blind society, is through education.


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Color, Race and Money in College


Various issues affect college life. In such situations, race, color and money play a huge role in determining how students go through life in college, particularly at the first year of enrollment. These factors couple with personal attributes, such as the socioeconomic status, mental ability, level of family involvement, academic skills, and motivation to influence how first year students cope with life in college.

Color and Race

Race and color play out together in influencing students relations. Therefore, within college, color is a considerable factor that determines how students interact. As a first year student, I feel that most friendships anchor on the color or race factors. It is common to see white students interact mainly with their white counterparts, as black students mingle with their black colleagues.

A lack of better social relations has contrived students to use color or race as a major factor in grouping. This has been common because some colleges still experience strained racial relations among students. At first year, this becomes quite demeaning when a person finds roommates with tendencies to invoke racial slurs. It shows disrespect. In spite of several attempts to deal with racial issues in colleges, the vice occasionally continues to show up when students interact. Unfortunately, racial issues are hardly new in college life. Even first year students join college knowing that such instances occur. This makes the situation worse because they orient their mind to racial stereotypes regarding various races. Because of this, there is high level of racial intolerance. Therefore, racial grouping becomes the default line for interactions and formations of friendships.

Students who have developed and grown in homogenous environments find it difficult to operate in racially heterogeneous environments offered within school setups. Such students have a higher likelihood of using racial slurs against other races because they cannot appreciate diversity. On the other hand, those from racially heterogeneous backgrounds find it easy to cope with all races. Their previous backgrounds give them a foundation to lay their behavior or conducts hen dealing with people from different races. This situation played out significantly for most first year students in Trinity College. In such situations, it became clear that upbringing plays a crucial role in determining interracial relations among first year students.

Even though some students are quick to dismiss racial stereotypes and racial intolerance, the situation becomes quite regressive to first year students when it comes to racial inclusion and acceptance. In this regard, the racial issues are highly detrimental during the first year of study. It disorients students’ social life. In light of this, most of the victims have been the people of color. Such situations create invisible walls between students of various races. This has been the main reason why first year students find it easy to fit within socially acceptable boundaries of interactions. The issue of affirmative action worsens the situation on how people from races view one another, even though it has been useful in advancing the recognition human dignity, as a critical aspect of life, irrespective of race.

The issue of race and color has prevented many first year students from feeling a sense of equality and value, as members of their colleges. This leads to isolation and exclusion of some students, particularly among the monitory groups. This creates mistrust, discomfort, fear and resentment about others. The situation can result in a continuous psychological stress and anxiety, which pose negative impact on college life, learning, and overall health and wellbeing of a student. Some new students suffer from racism in silence. Some students take racial slurs as jokes and apply them most of the time when encountering people from other races. Such trends aggravate the situations. Unfortunately, the managements of most institutions leave these jokes to go unchecked. In some cases, the issue of race and color has led to fights among students. Some students who cannot tolerate jokes find it difficult to accommodate such thoughts and resort to violence as a means for vengeance.


Since joining Trinity College as a first year student, I know and understand that going to college requires big financial commitments. This means that I have to manage my money carefully. Unfortunately, at first year, I see many students still do not know how to use their money wisely. In most instances, college first year students do not know how to budget appropriately to enable them meet the numerous needs that can support their learning. Budgeting may appear obvious. However, it is surprising how several students fail to make proper estimates on the amounts they need to meet various needs. First year students just go on a spending spree only to come to their senses when they have misused a substantial amount. They cannot make simple budgets that can enable them to meet their daily educational needs, as well as those for personal upkeep.

Most students do not even think of saving part of their surplus money for future use. Money factor has played out significantly in influencing the lives of students in college. It poses enormous impact on how students interact and make friendships with one another. Students usually consider the financial background of others in choosing whom to make friends. Some students misuse their money to a point where they have to depend on payday loans. In the end, their debts spiral out of control. This brings about considerable suffering to such first years students. In view of this, improper budgeting of the limited funds by students prompts them to experience extreme cash shortage. This creates much suffering, forcing students to opt out of college.

Some students expend considerable part of their money in funding trips to foreign countries. While such trips might be useful in enabling them to explore the world and enhance their view on cultural or racial diversities, it really hurts their ability to sustain their academic programs. The students employ money on things that are unnecessary in view of their learning needs. The situation becomes worse when their parents cannot help much in meeting their financial needs at the college. Some first year students resort to huge student loans thinking that repaying will be easy once they complete their education and get a job. They fail to recognize the need to take on as much debt as they need to receive the education they want. This leads to inappropriate use of money by many first year students.

Being a first year student in Trinity College, I feel that other students do not take into account their family financial backgrounds when determining how they should use their funds. They end up falling prey to the senior students who introduce them to the consumerist culture that exists in the college. To such students, they fail to consider the broader perspective of enhancing financial probity, which ought to give a genuine sense of their financial reality. Because of this, they fail the test of ensuring financial control. This puts them in a precarious situation as time progresses. They end up in failing to acquire even course materials.

It is also common to see students form friendships based on their financial status. Those from affluent backgrounds develop close relations because of they go out together for events that others cannot manage to pay. Therefore, money can be a crucial factor in determining social lives of first years, as, in some cases, interpersonal relations rely on financial status.


As I have observed during my first year as a student, color, race and money immensely influence students’ lives, particularly during their first year. These factors combine to inform the external environment which a student has to contend with when seeking to achieve his or her college education. They have been responsible for influencing learning outcome of most students.


Reflective Change Final Essay

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Julia Jiampietro

Color and Money FYSM

Reflection Essay


When I graduated from my small town high school in suburban New York, I graduated with not one black student in my class.  Even more, there was not one black student in my entire high school on the day I graduated.  As you can imagine, my schooling experience growing up thus was not very racially diverse.  Not to say I was ignorant of race issues and problems in todays America, but coming to Trinity and in particular being in the freshman the seminar Color and Money has helped to open my eyes even more so on the topics of systematic inequality in America with regards to both race and social class, and what it means for America’s youth today.

Casually talking to some guys who live on my hall was when I had a revelation about my privilege as a blond, white girl that I had never been able to experience in my high school due to the lack of diversity.  These students were freshman, athletes, and Trinity students.  They were also black.   They were pretty upset over something that had happened earlier that day- a campus safety guard had approached the friends (3 of them) and asked them if they went to Trinity.   One of them, recanting the story, said “I was actually wearing Trinity sweatpants when this guy asked us this.  Like seriously?”  They were annoyed but had made it into somewhat of a joke, a joke about how blatantly stereotyped they were because they were black- and this wasn’t the first time a situation like that had happened to them.   After this experience, and after reading Adolfo Abreu’s letter in our seminar discussing this exact problem, I started to understand in a more intense way what systematic inequality was and exactly how present white privilege was.   I realized I will never be asked if I am a Trinity student because of the color of my skin, I will never have to justify why I am on a campus I paid to go to.   Further more, I will most likely never be subjected to things like the “stop and frisk” policy in New York (where I live) where police can search anyone appearing “suspicious”, I will probably continue my record of never being “randomly selected” to be searched at an airport, but ultimately I will never have to prove something about myself to other people because of the color of my skin.  I know these examples are particularly specific, but when I was trying to understand what exactly “white privilege” meant, specific things like this kept jumping out to me.  Not only were my views on racial inequality expanded through my time at Trinity and through our seminar, but my understanding on class structure  in America were extremely broadened.

If my hometown was racially un- diverse, the economic diversity in my hometown was even worse. Almost every year the graduation rate was 100%, with the college matriculation rate differing from 99% to 100% every few years.  “Why was this?” I always wondered. I wasn’t ignorant enough to think that it was because the students attending my school were somehow smarter then the high school the town over, who had a 40% graduation rate and an even lower college matriculation rate.  After reading “Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality” by Laura Armstrong and Elizabeth Hamilton, it suddenly became very clear how this inequality was possible.  They talk about how those students from an upper class have “significant family resources and connections — which set them up for jobs after graduation, regardless of credentials — allow them to take easy majors and spend as much time if not more drinking as they do studying. It also deters those on the “mobility pathway,” as those low-income students seeking entry into the middle class are both poorly supported and distracted by the party framework.”

As I probably don’t need to point out, Trinity is one of the most expensive liberal arts colleges in the United States, with a tuition upwards of 60,000 dollars- so I always knew I was extremely lucky to not have worry about paying my tuition, I knew I was extremely lucky that I wouldn’t be in thousands of dollars of debt from student loans when I graduated.  I knew all of this coming into Trinity but it never quite hit home the way it did until I saw firsthand how real this inequality was and how much it could affect ones path in life.  One of my good friends, a sophomore here at Trinity, was by no means lower class.  I would probably classify her as middle class, maybe even middle upper class by America’s standards.  Her freshman year her financial situation was very similar- if not the same- as mine; or in other words she did not have to be on financial aid and her family took care of the tuition.  Preparing to come into her sophomore year, things couldn’t have looked better she was excited to see all of her school friends and the beginning of the year was always so fun, so many parties and so much to do.  It then came as a huge shock to her when her parents informed her that- for whatever reason- they could no longer afford to pay her full tuition and she would have to take out student loans and attempt to pay at least 15,000 of each semester of her tuition.   I know that on the scale of student loans, many people have it way worse- but what sat with me and really gave me a different perspective was the very real shift of the attitude of someone who didn’t have any financial worries when it came to school versus someone who suddenly has so much invested.  Her anxiety shot through the roof- suddenly the “partying” aspect of the school year did not matter so much to her anymore, and all of her focus went into trying to figure out how she would afford to pay off this debt.  For me, this really sat with me because it was around the same our seminar was reading “Paying for the Party” and it was just like a first hand account of what they describe in the book.

Ultimately what this seminar has taught me is how to understand systematic inequality and how ones privilege or lack there of can have a very real and have a very big impact on almost everything we experience in life.   The only way to move forward as a society and to move past these inequalities is to acknowledge they exist and work to learn more and more about what they mean, which is what we have done this year in our seminar through our readings and discussions.

Wealth’s Seperating Ways

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With the end of my first semester of College nearing, I am able to take some time and reflect on what these past few months have taught me and revealed to me.

Coming from more liberal and welcoming surroundings in the San Francisco Bay Area, I, in many aspects, have been in shock from the reserved and pretentious nature inevitable amongst the student body at Trinity College. I was not used to being judged based on my clothing and appearance nor my cultural, political or religious beliefs. At first I thought these were all just disparities that existed in part due to the Class of 2017’s universal unfamiliarity with its new collegiate surroundings. However, with some help from my First Year Color and Money Seminar, I’ve now realized that this judgmental and exclusive culture is engrained into the old wealth of the northeast and more than likely the old wealth of America as well.

Before coming to college, I’m not sure I appreciated the prevalence of money as a social separator. I was aware of the classist-based movements sweeping the nation but simply saw our nation’s class divide in statistics; I never realized the implications it had. In other words, I knew the nations wealth was dispersed unevenly, but was not aware of the extent an individuals personal wealth would push them to separate into an elitist group of their own. This is Trinity College.

The abundance of wealth and egoism at Trinity College is overwhelming, and seeing as it consistently comes from extremely affluent northeasterners; I believe it to be indicative of the old wealth of the northeast as well. I’ve heard a wealthy prep-school graduate with below a 3.0 GPA at Trinity state that he feels that poor people are bringing down America and that people who grew up in extreme poverty should’ve simply worked harder to make it to a prestigious collegiate institution. Mitchell L. Stevens describes the intrinsic unfairness of this statement in his book Creating a class: “Keenly aware of the terms of elite college admission, privileged parents do everything in their power to make their children into ideal applicants” (Stevens, p.20).  Regardless, this hypocritical idea appears to be the consensus of a good portion of Trinity’s predominantly conservative student body. Additionally, I’ve heard another wealthy individual on a separate occasion refer to workers of the college as peasants. This may be an abnormally outright statement, but it unfortunately accurately represents many individuals negativity toward the lower classes at Trinity. Lastly, I’ve seen a significant amount of apathy towards academic achievement at Trinity. Many individuals feel with the connections and wealth that their family has accrued, there is no need to apply themselves in their academics.

In conclusion, my experiences at Trinity have helped me immensely to see money and social class in new light. I now see money’s ability to make the college admissions process unfair, to keep its possessors wealthy, and to make its owners elitist and discriminatory towards those of lower classes. I now see the many routes money has to keep its families wealthy, and the abilities it has to separate society.

On a personal level, this raises concern for me, as I feel old familial wealth will eventually prove itself to be a gateway to societal and American mediocrity. Familial wealth allows individuals to be extremely successful without appropriate credentials due to their own familial connections. Although this may seem particularly relevant only to those in the high upper class, I believe its impact will soon be widespread. The apathy of some Trinity students is particularly of concern to me. Individuals who don’t apply themselves to amassing proper knowledge in college are often unsuitable to be in important high-paying positions in America.  However, old money, even now, is allowing the US to put under-qualified persons in high paying, important, and powerful jobs. This could prove increasingly problematic as it could cause a significant America stagnation. If the wealthy continues to put under qualified individuals in important positions, which it will, America will begin to produce mediocre results in many fields. The negative repercussions of this are endless. With America being known for its extremely innovative economy, a lack of innovation could lead to America’s impact and power decreasing on a global scale. Additionally, with global economies being so intertwined, if America begins to consistently produce mediocre goods and services, it could prove disastrous for the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, however, I don’t see the attitudes of the wealthy changing anytime soon. Money constantly boosts egos, and I feel this kind of egoism will prove as a barrier to the wealthy being driven to excel in whatever field they are pre-destined to be in.

Regardless, I feel it necessary to state my own opinions as to what can be done to better the bleak outlook I’ve presented. By no means am I an expert on the matter, but in this context it seems appropriate to share what I feel can be done. This situation is no different than any other in that education is key. I would suggest our nation do its best to expose wealthy children to the prevalence of the discriminatory dynamic that is taking place in the US, and work on achieving the most possible socio-economic diversity in all lower education schools in America. It’s possible that through this the upper class could lessen its alienating ways and create a better social dynamic. This being said, I don’t know if this would more evenly disperse the wealth, as I believe this to be an implausible immediate goal, but it could definitely lessen the tension between classes.

The old wealth of America is dismantling the American Dream, and remodeling the meritocracy for which America has so long been known. It’s an extremely relevant issue at this time, and it must be properly acknowledged and addressed.


Stevens, Mitchell L., and EBSCOhost. Creating a Class: College Admissions and the Education of Elites. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009. Print.

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.

Reflective Change Essay

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Reflective Change Essay

My first semester here at Trinity College has brought a whole new aspect of diversity and how people of different backgrounds mesh together into my life. Before coming to college, I attended a small private school just outside of Boston, heavily populated by upper class, white individuals. Having gone to a private prep school in the New England area, climbing the social latter based on appearance and what you wear is nothing new to me, as I have seen this the past four years of my life. What struck me as different after spending my first semester at Trinity College, as well as looking at the community in my first year seminar class, was the racial barriers that exist within the student body of the college.

Being a part of the Color and Money first year seminar has helped me understand and notice how diversity affects a college campus, an idea that I was somewhat blind to prior. While we started off the semester looking at the admissions process and how race and social class tied into this, we recently studied the atmosphere at Trinity College, through the eyes of many different second year students. Coming to a small liberal arts school in Connecticut, I expected to see judgments made based on socio-economic status because this exists all around the world. What surprised me most when stepping onto this campus was the prevalence of racial separation, as I really have never been exposed to it during my life in schooling systems. Although we discussed these barriers in our first year seminar class, I came to notice this direct tendency of students to associate themselves with people of the same race from day one.

Walking into Mather Hall while it is heavily populated with students proves this unfortunate separation, which is created by the desire to be comfortable. While students here at Trinity may not realize what they are doing, stepping out of one’s comfort zone to meet some new people coming from completely different backgrounds seems way out of the equation to a high percentages of individuals here. Adolfo Abreu suggested an interesting idea in his open letter to the Trinity community in looking at the separation between white and blacks in Mather Hall. He said, “The question that is never asked is ‘Why do all the White Kids Sit Together?’ There is no analysis concerning white privilege on this campus but there is a constant reference to the student of color population being exclusive and primarily to themselves” (Abreu 4). I completely agree with Adolfo’s words as the blame is too often handed to students of color for not sitting or associating themselves with white individuals. The studies this semester in our first year seminar course have really opened my eyes to see how racial barriers affect students of color on a daily basis. The big problem that exists, in the words of Abreu, is, “white students not stepping out of their own comfort zones and trying something new” (Abreu 4). While Trinity College may be seen as a college free from any racial barriers from an outsider, like me when applying to the school a year ago, being a part of both the community and my first year seminar class has suggested a different notion.

Money plays a big role wherever you are, but rather than being a subject of division at Trinity, I have notice that it acts more as a basis of judgment throughout the community. You can’t walk from your dorm to class without passing an individual who is internally analyzing your appearance on this campus. Again, being a small liberal arts school in the northeast, many students come from pretty wealth backgrounds, suggesting the need to impress others and show off wealth through appearance. I wouldn’t say there are necessarily divisions based on social class, but people of the same friend group seem to look and dress pretty similarly. For some, as seen in our interview project, appearance does not mean a thing, but for the majority it provides comfort when one feels they look good and have dressed to impress. This whole idea is nothing I haven’t seen before, but it is interesting to see how it is present on a bigger scale in a more mature setting.

Since coming to Trinity College and spending my first semester here, I have learned a lot about race and social class and how certain divides exist in the community. I have noticed that the main cause for the racial separations is individuals wanting to feel comfort and similarity with those who surround them. The only way to erase this barrier is the community taking action as a whole, with individuals stepping out of their comfort zones. Prior to Trinity, I had never really experienced racial barriers, but after conversation in our seminar class, the idea stays in the back of my mind every time I walk through campus. Our seminar has really helped in broadening my knowledge on these worldwide problems and has pushed me to try and make a change.


Works Cited:


Provost, Kerri. “Trinity Student Offers Suggestions for Bridging Town-Gown Chasm,” Real Hartford, November 26, 2013.

Elise’s Reflective Essay

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Prior to coming to Trinity, I had never really thought about my relationship with race and social class. I grew up in Newburyport, Massachusetts, which is an almost entirely homogenous town on the North Shore. Nearly everyone is white, and there is minimal class diversity. As a result, I felt comfortably average, but I was also blind to the bigger picture of racial and social class relations. Trinity can be similar to Newburyport in many ways: despite it’s 20% diversity rate, the population is still largely white, and many students are quite affluent. I think taking the Color and Money seminar has been one of the best things to happen to me at Trinity thus far. It has opened my eyes to the way the world really is, rather than simply allowing me to view the school through a metaphorical pair of rose-tinted glasses.

If I were to self-analyze based on Beverly Tatum’s Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, I think I entered Trinity at the contact stage. I fit her description of living in a homogenous neighborhood, and I had never deeply thought about my race, beyond the ever-present joke in my hometown about how white our town is. I think I fit perfectly into Tatum’s contact stage, because I never saw racism around me and felt I was free of prejudice (Tatum 95). Coming to Trinity was one of the first times I was exposed to a lot of diversity. One of my roommates is Dominican and an active part of Posse and LVL on campus, so getting to know her and listening to her stories have really opened my eyes. I learned that this is the benefit of having more diversity: if you’re willing to look and listen, there are a lot of interesting stories to hear.

The interesting and, as far as I can tell, unique thing about our seminar is how relevant it is. I have frequently spoken to my friends who are not in Color and Money about our class, and I can almost hear the envy in their voices. No other seminar (as far as I know) has sparked as much discussion and debate as ours. None of my friends even discuss their seminars outside of class, let alone take what they learn in their seminar and apply it to their lives. For our seminar, however, this discussion is crucial.

At the end of the semester, we read Adolfo Abreu’s open letter to the Trinity community that gave his thoughts on race relations at Trinity as well as with the surrounding Hartford neighborhood. This letter sparked one of our most heated in-class debates yet. Over the course of the semester each student in Color and Money came further out of their shell, so it was no surprise that people starting vocalizing their real thoughts in this final debate. I spent most of class just listening, and one point really stuck out to me. Part of Abreu’s letter was titled “The Objectification of Women of Color”, which discussed how objectified and judged the female population can be (Abreu). One white girl in our class spoke up and said that she felt the experiences Abreu cited were common to all women, and I agreed with her, but it soon became clear that this was not the case. The two African-American girls in our class, Jasmine and Briana, then spoke up and gave a very powerful testimony about how women of color “lose every time” and that “white women are untouchable”. The class only talked about it for a short time, but what they said stuck with me for the rest of the week.

In our final seminar class, I brought up how moved I was by this point, and I am so glad I did. After class, Jasmine and Briana came up to me and told me how grateful they were that I had spoken up. This launched a very intelligent and intense discussion for the next few hours outside of class about race and social class and our own opinions. We got lunch, we talked, we laughed, and we were open-minded and excited to hear each other’s stories. I can honestly say this was the first real-world discussion about race I have ever had.

In retrospect, I think this discussion was unimaginably important simply because we kept the conversation going outside the classroom. People can talk until they are hoarse in class, but as influential as Color and Money was, it was still a class. We were put in a room and told to discuss these issues, but bridging the gap between class and life is harder. It’s hard to force these kinds of intellectual discussions, and prior to taking Color and Money I wouldn’t have been as enthusiastic to talk about my views on race. I never even had an opportunity to talk openly with people from different backgrounds. I now have the confidence, knowledge, and desire to keep having conversations like the one I had with Jasmine and Briana.

This kind of dialogue is the only way to break down race barriers and move into a less race-conscious world. If the white kids continue to sit with the white kids and the black kids do the same, people will only ever get one side of the story and the gap will continue to widen. While I alone cannot change the world, and one meaningful conversation will not reform race-relations at Trinity, I am still a piece of the puzzle. If I can have a perspective-altering experience, anyone can, and the more people who are educated and aware, the more likely we are to create meaningful change.

Works Cited

Provost, Kerri. “Trinity Student Offers Suggestions for Bridging Town-Gown Chasm,” Real Hartford, November 26, 2013,

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



Ali’s Reflective Change Essay

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Our First-Year Seminar, Color and Money, has had a very big impact on the way that I now think about race and social class at Trinity. Coming into the semester, I didn’t really know what to expect from the seminar other than the fact that I knew that the topic would be thought provoking and interesting. This semester, I have learned a lot about myself and discovered some of my underlying perceptions that I have regarding the college admissions process, and especially with respect to how race and social class can have a large impact on the process. At the beginning of the semester I found it fascinating and exciting to do stimulations of the college admissions process. It made me think a lot about what happened when my own application was read and what the admissions officers said about me. As anxious college applicants, we try to make our application as desirable as we possibly can, and it was interesting for me to gain a different perspective on how the process works and what goes into the process. The simulation also made me think about other people and their personal admissions process and some of the factors that may have benefitted them. Some of these factors include, legacy, athletics, and race. The seminar in general has made me think differently about race and social class and how the student population deals with the issues that stem from different races and social classes.

One of the most interesting things that we did this semester was interviewing the sophomores about their own perceptions of race and social class. Though they are only one year older than we are, they have a whole year’s worth of knowledge and experience being a member of the Trinity community. Some of the most insightful and interesting things that the sophomores said in their interviews was their observation of the defacto segregation in Mather dining hall. For me, this was extremely interesting because it is one of the first things that I noticed about Trinity. I think that this is one of the causes of some of the negative and sometimes racist feelings that people feel on campus. The discussions that we had in seminar were very thought provoking and at times, heated, which I thought were extremely valuable and enriched my overall experience in the class. Though, at times I was uncomfortable hearing some of the strong opinions of my fellow classmates, it did however cause me to look deeper inside myself and my own thought and opinions on the topic of race and social class.

For example, when we were talking about stereotypes and how black students may be treated differently by campus security officers or dining hall employees, the opinions shared and discussed showed me many different perspectives and ways of thinking about those problems that occur on campus. Though I went to public school my whole life, the town that I lived in and therefore the schools I attended, were not very diverse. I have lived a pretty sheltered life thus far, and am eager to expose myself in my years at Trinity and beyond. Though Trinity is not extremely diverse, it is a step up from the diversity I experienced growing up. As a result of the seminar, I am more aware of my perceptions ideas of different races and cultures of students at Trinity. The seminar has made me much more conscious of the separations of students by race on campus.

I think that my views on the racial differences at Trinity have changed a lot over the course of the semester as a result of the class discussions and readings that we have done as well as just by being immersed in the campus community. I think that I am more open to new ideas and opinions about race and social class as a result of this seminar. Throughout the semester, while I was learning so much in class whether in discussions in general or discussions about the books that we read, I also learned a lot about myself as a writer.

I think that my writing has grown tremendously over the course of the semester. I have learned more about critical analysis and not worrying about the complexity of the wording. I have learned to make my writing more in depth and detailed, and more on task. The specificity of the seminar helped with this issue in my writing. I believe that because the topic was controversial, I also learned to choose my words wisely and carefully. I think that with a topic like race and social class it is also not unusual for someone’s opinions to be misunderstood. So, writing clearly and objectively is important. Throughout the semester the difficulty and complexity of the writing assignments increased. This forced me to become a better writer and thinker. These are skills that I can take with me and use throughout my college career and beyond. Overall, I learned and grew tremendously in this seminar not only as a student, but also as a person.


Final: Reflective Essay

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Briana Miller

The Power of Knowledge

Everyone becomes socially and racially conscious at different times in their life. For me, race and social class did not become incredibly apparent until I moved from Madison, WI to Chicago, IL. Navigating a failing school system in my hometown Chicago after spending many years in well-resourced Madison opened my eyes to the many inequalities and limitations that come along with belonging to a specific ethnicity or coming from a particular financial background. When I entered Trinity College, my awareness was only strengthened: almost everything I see and experience is tied to my racial and social status. What I am proud of, despite the many challenges I have faced because of my place in the social hierarchy, is that I have gained a lot of knowledge on why things are the way they are and how I can better my own experience here on campus. I have not completely mastered patience and understanding, but these traits have improved since participating in the Color and Money seminar. The readings and sophomore interviews were particularly refreshing and humbling for me. What I have learned so far has encouraged me to appreciate all of the hardships I have encountered for what they are: learning and growing experiences.

In her book, Beverly Tatum includes an excerpt relaying a conversation between her and a white woman on the issue of racism. “Oh, is there still racism,” the white woman asks. When I first read this line I was completely taken aback. The answer to her question, to me, seemed obvious. Little did I know it foreshadowed a discussion I would soon have with a group of students in my anthropology course. We were debating whether or not logos such as that of the Cleveland Indians were offensive. Most of the majority white class said no to the question while most non-white students said yes.   One student claimed that racism had ended when Barack Obama had become president. Another defended his non-racist background by informing the class on how his high school celebrated black history month each year. I sat in complete awe as I listened to the comments. Never had the oblivion of racism seemed as real as it did at that moment. I couldn’t help but to continuously raise my hand throughout the discussion. As I stated my contrasting thoughts and beliefs on how racism was still embedded in society I felt the tension in the room thicken. While Tatum made many points in her novel I was able to relate to, she constantly reiterated how there is no particular group of people or person to blame for the perpetuating cycle of racism. With that in mind, I consciously listened to my offended peers reply back to my statements. I did not take their comments personally, nor did I blame them for their point of views. Everybody’s outlook on life is influenced by the circumstances they were dealt and grew up in. It was apparent by the comments made that a lot of the students had not been exposed to variety of point of views on the issue of racism. It was also obvious that many of the white students were very conscious of the comments they made, for they feared being viewed as racist. Reading Tatum’s book allowed me to gain insight on how issues of race and racial identity manifest within society while also reminding me that the goal is not to find who’s to blame, but to seek solutions on how to improve the problem instead.

After evaluating the data received through the Trinity College interviews in our seminar, I became more aware of why particular people on campus were not as accepting of me. I made the conscious decision some years ago to wear my hair in its natural, kinky state and to also wear as many afro-centric garbs as I could on a daily basis. I was used to receive quizzical stares in Chicago, as my bold style caught a lot of people off guard. Here, however, I’ve experienced outright looks of disapproval and, in some cases, disgust.  Yvonne, one of the interviewees noted how she experienced different reactions from people depending on how she dressed. As an African American, lower middle class female she said that “If I’m wearing something…that does not look name brand and put together… people are less likely to [hold] doors open for me, people are less likely to speak to me like in a crowd of people, people are less likely to acknowledge me whereas otherwise they would” (Interview Transcripts, 19). I realized that this applied to me as well. I am personally far less concerned with portraying a certain social class through my clothing than I am with expressing my culture. Once I learned that I was likely being ignored or glared at for materialistic reasons, I became less offended by how others treated me. Not everybody judges me on the clothes I wear or the way I style my hair, and I tend to focus more on those individuals now than to invest energy in greeting or meeting those who do. Sometimes people take to my style and personality, other times they don’t. Now that I’ve been on this campus for a few months, I don’t really pay attention to how others view me, so long as I am portraying the best me I can. The more aware I have become in our seminar of how prevalent color and money is in the nation, the less I find myself complying with the rules and expectations of me. The more I become informed, the less I feel the need to “fit in”, and I love that.

This semester has taught me quite a bit about myself and how I differ from others. Race and social class are both factors that play a large roll on this campus and because I am a minority and come from a lower social class, my experiences and interactions with others can be both uncomfortable and frustrating. Lucky for me though, I was able to emerge out of my Trinity culture shock by gaining more knowledge on “color and money”. With time will surely come more wisdom, and I am glad I had the chance to kick start my learning in a seminar as eye opening as this one.


Tatum, Beverly Daniel. Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? and other conversations about race. New York: BasicBooks, 1997. Print.

Trinity College Interviews. Color and Money Seminar. 2013



Reflective change essay

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Sarah Fogel

I would like to dedicate this essay to one of my heroes, Nelson Mandela. With his passing I was reminded that people do have the power to see the injustice in the world and do something about it.

The first day of college there was an immediate change in my environment, not only the location but also the people surrounding me. Before coming to Trinity College I had lived solely in white Jewish neighborhoods. Although I have lived in five different cities from California to New York including a European country, the people in the neighborhoods and at my private schools were white and Jewish. Very rarely was there any socioeconomic or racial diversity. Even the private high school I attended for a year in New York City was full of white Jewish students. I never really thought about this fact though until about the age of 15 when I started to experience some diversity at summer programs I attended. I really began to think about the impact of living in such a homogeneous culture. Being able to take a class that focused on race and diversity was exciting for me because I had experienced so little racial and socioeconomic diversity in my life. Since the class had to do with the college admission process, which I had recently gone through, it was fascinating not only to see the perspective of the admission teams but also to examine how the process varied according to race and social class.

I was excited to be in classes with non-Jewish students who were from all different backgrounds. This created an interesting class dynamic because there were many different life experiences in the room and therefore many unique perspectives. It made the classroom setting exciting as well as uncomfortable sometimes because there was disagreement over how certain issues should be handled. As the semester progressed, I learned more and more about how race can be such a strong barrier to opportunities in life. When students of color were applying to schools, there was controversy about what the acceptance policy should be. There have been relevant court cases dealing with the acceptance process. For example, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Regents of University of California v. Bakke that schools could not determine whether a student will be accepted based on race, but not all students agreed with this ruling. I knew about these cases but thought most racial issues had been resolved already.

In addition to racial issues there were social class issues to discuss in class. The book Paying for the Party by Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton discussed how socioeconomic differences could affect people’s college experience because of the opportunities they do and do not have. In the book the upper class girls had a much easier time finding friends, partying, and acquiring summer internships, which helped with future job applications. On the other end of the spectrum girls who were lower class struggled with fitting in and doing well academically because they did not have the same preparation and family support as the upper class girls. I do not feel what happened in the book to be as extreme at Trinity College, but after hearing from other students, I saw that social class could be a restricting factor.

Even though there is more diversity at Trinity than all the other schools and communities I have lived in, sadly there is a divide racially and socioeconomically at the school. This was not obvious to me at the beginning of the year, but as class went on and I heard stories from other students, especially about being stopped by campus police because of their skin tone and dress, I began to realize that being in a diverse setting was not everything I had expected. We conducted interviews with the sophomore class and after reading through the transcripts I was able to clearly understand the divide between the social classes and the races. Many students talked about it being difficult to make friends with other students who were not like them. Some interviewees discussed feeling left out because of their skin tone or because they couldn’t afford the same clothing brands as others. This was not the case for all students, but it was still talked about to my dismay. In the seminar we were able to discuss why this happened and write about it giving me even more insight into how others felt.

It was shocking to me that what I felt was a diverse school was not very diverse compared to what many other students had experienced. It made me realize how much of a “bubble” I was in, the “white Jewish private school bubble.” I also never realized how much of a struggle it was for minorities and lower class families. I realized there were problems but not the extent that I learned about in this seminar from other students and the books we read. Everything I learned about in the class has made me more aware of my actions towards others, and I also began to look more at the friendship groups I see around campus. Because of this seminar I realize that there is still much injustice in the college admissions process and life in general, and I hope that I can help change this and learn to take positive action to improve the lives of those less fortunate or stigmatized by their skin color.







Works cited


Armstrong, Elizabeth A., and Laura T. Hamilton. Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2013. Print.


Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. Supreme Court. 28 June 1978. Print.

Reflective Essay – Anger, Frustration, and Helplessness

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Hieu “Hugh” Nguyen

Anger, Frustration, and Helplessness

Before I came to Trinity, racial issues had not come to my mind. I grew up and lived in Vietnam in 16 years, where there were only Vietnamese. In one year and a half in an American boarding high school, I lived and studied with many people from different races. However, I was never aware that I was a minority, and never felt out of place. During lunch or dinner, people from different races sat together. I had great friendships with a lot of white, Hispanic, and African students. Regarding social class, I’m from the lowest class in my home country because neither of my parents had jobs due to their serious health conditions. I was surrounded by privileged kids in high school, however, I did not  feel uncomfortable at all. We talked and discussed about almost everything on Earth. Unlike what I expected, a year and a half in an American  high school did not prepare me well enough to face the cultural shock in Trinity College. I experienced many signs of racism and classism on Trinity’s campus right in the first week of school. Taking the “Color and Money” seminar with the hope that it would help me build skills and strengths to fight against racism or classism on campus, I was a bit disappointed. Though I have gained tremendous amount of knowledge about race and social class, the knowledge does not do anything but raises fear, helplessness, and anger inside me.

I fear Trinity College. Yes, even though Trinity is the school that I am so grateful for because I am on a full ride, I fear this school! Being an international student who cannot afford a cent for a college education, I am well aware how much one’s socioeconomic status affects his chance of being offered admissions to any college. However, the simulation of the college admissions process that the class conducted really paralyzed me. I was totally stunned at how a school considered as “generous” like Trinity could have such a poor financial aid budget: $70,000 for 15 applicants (Round 4: the F-round, 2013). Thus, the school does not promote the idea of meritocracy, and so does any other school that has similar or lower budget than Trinity’s. I fear for the future of thousands of low-income college applicants out there, including US citizens and international students, who dare to dream big, who are brave enough to believe in the American dream, would be turned down by the less academically qualified, less motivated, and less intellectually curious but more wealthy ones. I’m angry and disappointed at most American colleges as they really are the opposite of what many international students think. American colleges are not educational equalizers.

Even for low-income kids who are lucky to get full financial aid to go to college, like me, we still struggle to fit in the social life at our colleges. One of the class’s books, “Paying for the Party”, describes how students of very different social classes go through very different experiences in college. For a low-income kid being trapped in a hall full of party kids, like me, it is a nightmare. I don’t have the money to transfer to another school like the way many isolations in “Paying for the Party” do. The book made me question “is my life at Trinity a trade-off for receiving a full ride, for daring to pursue my dreams?” The sadness inside me boils whenever I think about the seminar. The class helps students to have a deeper understanding of the life of low-income students (and lives of students from different social classes) in college, but it neither teaches how to make their lives less unbearable, nor intends to spread the word so that everyone on campus can know about the life of isolations. What is the point of knowing all these stuff but doing nothing about them?

In terms of race, the class does help me to understand more about racism and many daily signs of racism on campus. There are not only easily observed signs like people associating with those who are from the same race or class, but also under-the-surface signs. For instance, the interview project that the class conducted with Trinity’s sophomores confirms that clubs that are meant to promote multicultural interactions on campus have been doing the opposite. This is opposed to what Adolfo Abreu writes in his letter. These clubs, though theoretically would be “open to all those interested in the culture that the organization represents” (Abreu), actually are places for only people of the same race to hang out together.

Tatum’s racial development theory is quite helpful. It helps explain a lot in why there is a lack of multicultural interaction on Trinity’s campus. Based on the racial development theory, many students are in the emersion stage, which is other races than one’s own become irrelevant, and people only hang out with those of the same race. I see that multiracial interactions only increase when the number of students in the internalization stage of Tatum’s theory increases. However, as Tatum suggests, friendship beyond racial boundaries is possible, however that only happens when there are White kids who are ready to deal with minorities in terms of self-definition (Tatum 77). This answers Adolfo’s point about “Why do all the White Kids Sit Together?” Until the white kids really reach out and willing to be friends with non-white students, the number of students in the internalization stage will remain the same and so will the limited number of multiracial interactions at this school.

However, neither the seminar nor the school really tries to tackle racial issues on campus. This saddens me most. The interview conducted by the class shows that many students are well aware of racial and social tensions to some extent, but they are not likely to discuss about these topics in public. For instance, Michael whispered to his interviewer “Mather. Where people sit” and he tried to not speak out the name of the side that he sat whenever he goes to Mather (which would be “minority”) (Michael 3). In addition, Trinity College Confidential page, like Adolfo points out, is mostly about hooking up, partying, drugs, appearance. Posts about these topics get the most “likes” while posts about racial issues are nowhere to be found. There are very few students who are courageous enough to step up and talk about it. Sadly, they are often shooed away. For example, one student in our class who raised her voice about a racist joke made by other Trinity students on Facebook was verbally attacked. I feel extremely helpless. Even if I made some comments on Facebook to help her, the ignorant kids would not have listened to me anyway. If people like her who has the courage to step up are treated disrespectfully like that, who would even dare to fight against the racial tension on this campus? We students are powerless in trying to do that. Adolfo presents many insightful thoughts in his letter, but how many people have read his letter thoroughly? And how many of those who read it have really changed their racist minds and behaviors? I bet that number is less than the number of fingers on a human body. Not all students are forced to read Adolfo’s letter, so it is not likely that the most racist kids know and will ever know of his letter. The same problem happens to Trinity Tripod. There have been inspiring posts on Tripod about racial issues. For example, there were two written by students on the December 3rd issue. But the problem is how many students, and even faculty, really read Tripod? This is why the college’ administration needs to do something, because we students alone do not have enough power to change this whole racist system. A small action like requesting every student to read Adolfo’s letter would be undeniably beneficial, however the school has not done it, or has not come up with this idea? The seminar does not help, either. Like what I mentioned about social class, what is the point of knowing all these racial stuffs, then do nothing about it? Sometimes, knowledge without actions is useless. Sometimes, I even wish that I had never taken this course, so that I can be like my friends, who don’t know much about the racial and social tensions at Trinity and never have these feelings of powerlessness, anger, and frustration.

Please! Those who have power at Trinity please do something to really tackle racial and social issues on campus! I beg you! I’m sure there are students like me, who constantly seek for an opportunity to fight against racism and classism at this school. Once you trigger the fight, we all would join in the fight. I will definitely devote myself for it, because I cannot bear to see racism and classism happen at my home anymore!

Works Cited

Armstrong, Elizabeth, and Laura Hamilton. Paying for the Party: how College Maintains Inequality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013. Print.

Dougherty, John. Round 4: the F-round for Financial aid Evaluations. Color and Money Admissions Simulation Data, Trinity College, Fall 2013.

Provost, Kerri. Trinity Student Offers Suggestions for Bridging Town-Gown Chasm. Web log post. Real Hartford. WordPress, Nov 26, 2013.

Tatum, Beverly. Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and Other Conversations About Race. New York: Basic Books, 2003. Print.

Barbershop Beginings

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Nicolas Bouchard
Jack Dougherty
Color and Money

Barbershop Beginnings

    Coming into Trinity, I felt as if I knew the people of Hartford like it was my own. This familiarity did not come from any first hand experience of living here. This came from time spent at my boxing gym in Lawrence, an impoverished old mill town in northern Massachusetts. Through my time spent at the gym, towns like Lawrence and Hartford became interchangeable in my eyes. I had grown to categorize people living there in two different ways: the motivated and the unmotivated. To me, if someone was unemployed it was because they were an addict or were not looking around. I had seen kids at the gym work themselves out of Lawrence through either their school work or boxing. It was black and white to me. If someone was not making a living, they had not taken the initiative to look at every possibility they had to make a living. However, through taking the Color and Money seminar taught by Jack Dougherty, I learned just how ignorant I was towards the struggles people living in poverty have to encounter.

    The seminar dealt with the role race and social class has in society. The class was built to challenge the belief of meritocracy, the idea that all people are judged by merit alone. While I was not blind to the fact that racism still exists and the impoverished have less access to resources than the wealthy, I did believe in the idea of meritocracy and how in the end, hard work could pay off for anybody. The reading that first challenged this belief of mine in a major way was Beverly Tatum’s book “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”. In the book, Tatum laid out the different ideas of racial identity, the theory that each race goes through an individual process to find its identity. It was through reading her book that I started to realize that it was unfair of me to judge the lives of impoverished non-whites on the same level as my own. This was because I realized that they have grown up through a different process than I have.

    Tatum describes the different processes of identity development each race faces through the course of their lives. While the first stages of racial identity development are outwardly similar, there is a difference in the internal process that exemplifies the disadvantage that minorities have. Tatum describes the first stage of white racial identity as the contact stage. This is a time when whites feel as if they are free of any prejudice towards others races because they barely acknowledge race. In their eyes they are “just normal” (Tatum,55). Conversely in the first stage of minority identity development, the pre-encounter stage, the non-white child absorbs all of the beliefs of our white dominated culture, including white superiority and non-white inferiority. Non-white children are not conscious of their race yet, but they have internalized the racial hierarchy that rules our country.

The difference between the two is subtle, the young children tend to act out on the same level. However, the way the pre-encounter stage is structured sets up the minority child for failure in life. This is due to how when the child realizes his race he will associate himself with inferiority. This will go a long way in terms of what he thinks he can achieve. If they internalize this belief that they are not on the same level as their white compatriot, then logically they will not achieve as much as whites. I realized that I had been woefully inaccurate about the reason I saw so many unemployed non-whites in the city of Lawrence. Of course they should accept some responsibility for their situation, but just looking at it from a lazy/hard working point of view was too simplistic. The reality is they have grown up in a system that is inherently against them, while I have grown up in a system that caters toward someone like myself, a white man.

The first time I had recognized this system being played out, I was walking into Fresh Edge, a barbershop on New Britain Street, right outside of Trinity. As I walked up to my barber Ralphie to get my cut, I saw that he had his kid there at the shop. I sat on the chair the kid immediately started asking me questions about what college was like: “how much homework do you get,” “are the teachers nice,” “what’s it like living on campus?”. After the kid had rattled off about five of these questions in thirty seconds Ralphie interrupted his son, telling him that it was impolite to assume that I was in college. It then hit me, this was the pre-encounter phase playing itself out right in front of me. Upon reflection I had come to the conclusion that Ralphie’s kid assumed I was in college because of the color of my skin. I had thought about the way I was dressed and it wasn’t anything special, torn up jeans with a Whalers sweatshirt. If I had any other colored skin, chances are Ralphie’s kid would not have felt as comfortable making that assumption about me, but he associated my whiteness with education.

Walking out of the Barbershop, I realized I still had a long way to go in fully understanding the struggles people of color have to go through. I had been blind to the system I was in, one that raises the white race and puts down people of any other color. I walked out embarrassed of all the years of misjudgement I had put on other races. But, while I wasn’t even close to fully understanding the problems of non-whites living in America today, at least I had started to recognize the patterns of suppression around me. Everyone’s understanding of racial inequality has to start somewhere. For me it happened to be at a Barbershop.

Work Cited

Beverly Daniel Tatum, “Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” and Other Conversations about Race, revised edition (New York: Basic Books, 2003).

Reflective Essay

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Reflective Change Essay

Early in the fall of my senior year, people always approached me to ask what college I was planning on attending. When I would tell them Trinity, the first response I would always get was, “In Hartford? That’s a pretty dodgy area” or “That’s the school full of preppy kids and cocaine.” People would say this even if they had never been to Hartford or the campus itself. Before even coming to Trinity, I was exposed to multiple stereotypes about Hartford and Trinity in general. Upon choosing classes for the fall, I decided to try and enroll in the “Color and Money” first year seminar to learn more about the effect of race and class on the admissions process, and by doing so have learned more than I ever thought I would.

The seminar as a whole has made me much more aware of race and social class both at Trinity College and in society. It is upsetting to me that one’s race still plays such a large role in the people he or she spend time with and in how people treat and stereotype each other. All of the readings we analyzed in class made me realize the advantages that still exist for certain races and social classes and it was very troubling to realize how much inequality is present in our society. From high school life, the college process, college life and life in general, inequality and stereotypes exist in each stage of life, and had I not taken this seminar, I probably would still be unaware of the prevalence of inequality in society, and especially on the Trinity College campus. After many classes I left feeling distressed because of the content of our discussions. It is hard to hear about, on our very own campus, that “Campo” pull kids over asking them if they go here and that any criminal act is automatically blamed on the individuals living around the campus. This class has been an eye-opener, and I have begun to pick up on many instances of inequality and hurtful stereotypes being expressed. Listening to student’s accounts of assumptions made has both upset me and, as cliché as it sounds, has given me a drive to seek a positive change and make a conscious effort to treat everyone equally. Overall, I have become much more aware.

Throughout the class, I continued to follow “Trinity Confidential” on Facebook. The more and more discussions we had in class pertaining to race and the inequality that exists on this campus, the more angry I became from some of the posts online. Many of them stereotyped all different races and social classes on campus and it was infuriating to see how judgmental some of the students could be and the assumptions some people make about people based on their social class or race. It was alarming to see that at this stage of one’s life, he or she makes vicious stereotypes against different groups of people, especially at a campus that I thought was much different. These sentiments are clearly reflected in Abreu’s letter discussing racism at Trinity.

All around campus and online, I hear and see the word “locals” used and I see people making assumptions about the rich, the poor, the black, the white and everything in between. Abreu’s letter has made me realize the grievances of the people stereotyped against and it brings to light how many people feel the same way. Not only that, I have also begun to notice some of the trends discussed in Abreu’s letter, such as how white students tend to congregate in Mather, and students of different ethnicities stick together. I agree that if all groups made a conscious effort to get out of his or her comfort zone, then the campus could take a step closer to being a more accepting student body. By being a part of the “Color and Money” seminar, I have a completely new perspective of how people interact on and off campus.

Upon finishing this class, I realize even more so than ever before that I personally have lived a sheltered life, and it is truly shocking to find out how much inequality exists on the Trinity College campus and in society in general. I am much more conscious of the benefits I systematically receive because of the present societal norms and I am also very thankful for the life I have lived thus far and am far more aware of how other races and social classes are treated and stereotyped against. I now make a conscious effort to smile at everyone and to avoid stereotyping anyone. I think I am the type of person who is open to all types of people, so I have always made a point of being friendly to everyone I see around Hartford and on campus. I think that if the whole campus makes an effort to not stereotype each other and to be friendly to one another, the campus would be a much more pleasant place to be on.

Works Cited

Provost, Kerri. “Trinity Student Offers Suggestions for Bridging Town-Gown Chasm.” Web log post. Real Hartford. WordPress, Nov.-Dec. 2013. Web. 8 Dec. 2013.

Harvard University, Class of 1961, Dunster House

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Isabelle Boundy
December 8, 2013

FYSM Color and Money: Race and Social Class

Reflective Essay

For as long as I can remember, my family has kept a “Harvard University, Class of 1961, Dunster House” mug nestled among the other coffee mugs in our kitchen cabinet, and I have often found it amusing to inform people that my family acquired the mug, not because anyone in my family attended Harvard, but rather because my great-grandfather was the Dunster House superintendent, or, really, janitor.  Upon graduating high school, my grandfather was offered a full-ride to attend Harvard because of his father’s status as a Harvard employee, but he turned it down, opting instead to pay for his education at Boston College.  My grandfather’s decision has puzzled me for most of my life.  However, after completing Professor Jack Dougherty’s first year seminar, Color and Money: Race and Social Class, I now have a far greater understanding of the reasoning behind my grandfather’s choice.

The American educational system, and more specifically the college institution, is perceived as a mechanism for social mobility through which those born into lower socioeconomic classes can climb the social ladder and achieve a livelihood greater than that of previous generations.  However, after reading Mitchell Stevens’s Creating a Class, I understand colleges and universities not as tools for greater social mobility but rather as institutions that suppress those of lesser economic means and legitimize the status of elites (Stevens, 34).  The operations of college admissions offices are fundamentally biased towards more affluent applicants. While wealthy students attend SAT prep classes and tutoring sessions, hire college councilors, and row crew, less affluent students take on after school jobs, babysit younger siblings, and attend sub-par public high schools.  Everything in these less-privileged students’ lives is stacked against them in the college admissions process.  Thus, the overwhelming majority of students on college and university campuses come from upper-middle class, white families and communities that have done everything within their power to get these students into the most elite institutions, starting on the day they were born.

Even for the lucky few who do make it on to college campuses despite coming from lesser means, life on campus presents countless additional challenges from which more affluent students are spared.  Interviews conducted of Trinity sophomores exposed the insecurities of students of lesser means, and the isolation they felt when they were unable to keep up with the latest trends and accompany their more affluent classmates on weekend trips to New York City.  The interviews exposed even more surprising social trends on campus with regard to racial discrimination.  Minority students reported incidences of being stopped by campus safety and asked to present student ID cards.  No white interviewees reported being asked to prove that they belonged on Trinity’s campus.

After taking Professor Dougherty’s seminar, I understand college campuses to be undeniably places of intense and systemic elitism.  However, discussing the elitist biases of the college campuses and admissions process is arguably an elitist act in and of itself.  The vast majority of Americans do not attend college and, for the poorest Americans, the concern is not whether or not they get into college but rather whether or not they will graduate high school.  Greater attention needs to be given to making sure students graduate high school with adequate reading, writing, and mathematic abilities so that they can get decent jobs and climb the socioeconomic ladder.  We should not be as concerned with college admissions when there is greater issue of students graduating high school and having the skills necessary to be productive members of society.

After growing up in the basement of Harvard University, watching his father mop up after the drunken elite, my grandfather rejected the Ivy League to attend, what was in the late 1950s, a predominately urban, working class, and Catholic Boston College.  This was an economically irrational thing for him to do, and something that I understand he later regretted as a principal breadwinner for his own family.  But Color and Money: Race and Social Class has helped me to understand my grandfather’s reason for doing so— for my grandfather to enroll at Harvard University would mean spending four years in intense isolation, surrounded by extreme affluence and privilege.  My grandfather knew enrolling in Harvard would mean being the subject of intense condescension, judgment, and even disdain.  Thus, my grandfather chose to escape Harvard’s elitism for Boston College and the student body amongst whom he felt a sense of belonging.

After Professor Dougherty’s First Year Seminar, I have a greater understanding of the significance of the mug in my kitchen cabinet, as a reminder of those who are less fortunate and the work that needs to be done to ease social mobility.  The lessons I have learned in my First Year Seminar are lessons I will carry for the rest of my life, as I aim to work towards greater social mobility for those who are less fortunate, and greater compassion and understanding towards those of different backgrounds.


Works Cited

Stevens, Mitchell. Creating a Class: College Admissions and the Education of Elites. N.p.: n.p., 2007. Print.