UPDATED: The Quest to Racially Integrate: How have efforts to racially integrate changed over time? What methods were used in the past and being used today?

Many well known colleges and universities were established as early as the 17th Century making an effort to establish themselves as very prestigious institutions. They upheld high standards and morals in their students to ensure that their reputations would remain untainted. Colleges began their admissions process by simply accepting students who could financially afford to attend their institutions, sometimes regardless of their racial make-up. It was very rare that they would accept students of color; with the help of psychological advances like phrenology it was thought that students of color were intellectually inferior. With the threat of students of color attending their institution, many institutions enacted regulations that forbade the acceptance of any student of color. With historic events like the Civil Rights Movement, they turned to nationally recognized college access programs like A Better Chance to increase its population of students of color.

This paper will focus on three liberal arts schools that have changed the way they pool students into attending their institutions; Wesleyan University, Amherst College, and Trinity College. Within the last twenty years, these institutions have employed access programs in their admissions process to admit students of a demographic much different from what they usually do. Currently, Wesleyan University, Amherst College, and Trinity College, are partners with A Better Chance, QuestBridge, and the Posse Foundation respectively. By focusing on these institutions, a clearer view of how colleges and universities attempt to diversify their classes and campuses without looking at every single institution in America.

Wesleyan University- Pre-Civil Rights

Founded in 1831, Wesleyan University began its historic start as a Methodist Institution enrolling 48 students of various ages (Wesleyan University, par. 1). The college’s first president Willbur Fisk was a Methodist educator that is well known for his statement on the purpose of education. According to the educator, education serves the purpose of the good of the student and of the world (Wesleyan University, par. 3). Unfortunately not all students of Wesleyan University felt that this positive purpose included the education of African American students. According to the school’s student run newspaper The Wesleyan Argus, the college’s first African American student Charles B. Ray attended the institution for seven weeks in the fall of 1832 after harsh racist acts he dealt with from white (mostly southern) students (Argus, par. 1). These students pleaded with Fisk to expel Ray; some even threatened to withdraw their attendance from the school. After Ray’s withdrawal from the school, the board of trustees at the time passed a resolution that stated “None but white male persons shall be admitted as students at this institution” (Argus, par. 1).

After the regulation was repealed in 1835, students of color rarely attended the university and worse, the school did not embrace racial integration. A little more than two decades later, students like Thomas F. Barnswell were able to attend the institution, with few of them graduating (Potts, 55).

So how did Wesleyan University change from an institution that banned the attendance of students of color, to one that is partners with a bridge program whose goal is to give academically able students of color a chance to attend school at well known institutions?

Future Planning: I plan to speak about Amherst and Trinity College’s race relations before the Civil Rights Era. After explaining efforts to segregate/integrate by faculty/trustees/students, I will examine how these institutions began working with access programs like A Better Chance and QuestBridge . I will then analyze the relationship between access programs

Works Cited

  1. David Potts, Wesleyan University, 1831-1910: Collegiate Enterprise in New England (Wesleyan University Press, 1992).
  2. Liz Wojnar, “A ‘Stronghold of Southern Depostism’: First African American Student Left Because of Discrimination,” The Wesleyan Argus (November 6, 2009), http://wesleyanargus.com/2009/11/06/a-stronghold-of-southern-despotism-first-african-american-student-left-because-of-discrimination/
  3. Wesleyan University, “WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY: A BRIEF HISTORY” (Wesleyan University, 2012), http://www.wesleyan.edu/about/uhistory.html.
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4 Responses to UPDATED: The Quest to Racially Integrate: How have efforts to racially integrate changed over time? What methods were used in the past and being used today?

  1. Hi Shanese, I have not rad your whole proposal but remembered the title when I found this article, I hope it is helpful. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/21/california-affirmative-action_n_1442851.html

  2. Thanks so much Fionnuala!

  3. Thesis:
    Is this your thesis: “Currently, Wesleyan University, Amherst College, and Trinity College, are partners with A Better Chance, QuestBridge, and the Posee Foundation respectively. By focusing on these institutions, a clearer view of how colleges and universities attempt to diversify their classes and campuses without looking at every single institution in America.”?

    I would maybe reword to really strengthen the purpose of examining history over time.
    Maybe, “A Better Chance, Quest Bridge, and the Posse Foundation are all organizations that work to improve low-income and minority student acceptance at prestigious four year institutions across the country. Their partnership agreements with Trinity College, Wesleyan University, and Amherst College have changed the student demographics at these schools in the last twenty years. Analyzing how these schools have employed these programs in their admissions process will provide evidence to explaining how these institutions attempt to better racial and economic diversity on their campuses.” (I think.. .that got wordy towards the end, I hope it is a helpful beginning…)

    I really like the individual student focus of the first paragraph. It provides tangible context. A few things:

    1. You do not have a date in the first paragraph describing when the incident of Charles Ray occurred.

    Question:
    2. I like your question about how did quest bridge, posse, and ABC change this but, be careful about including too many incidents between 1853 and twenty years ago and now. I always get ‘in trouble’ with Jack for thinking to big – I think this could be a problem for you if you chronicle every incident over 150 years at all three institutions.

    3. Are you reading old Wesleyan Newspapers? You should include a picture of one – makes the WordPress post more dynamic. And perhaps introduce the source material in the writing?

    4. I am a little confused about this question. “So how did Wesleyan University change from an institution that banned the attendance of students of color, to one that is partners with a bridge program whose goal is to give academically able student a chance to attend school at a well known institution?”
    - Is it the goal of the organizations to give ALL academically able students a chance to attend prestigious higher education institutes.
    Or
    - Is it the goal of the organizations to give academically able students OF COLOR AND LOW-INCOME means a chance to attend prestigious higher education institutes?

    If it is not the second than how are these organizations responsible for diversifying the campuses of Trinity, Wesleyan, and Amherst, wouldn’t the student populations be filled with academically able students without Quest, ABC, and Posse?

    I hope this helpful.

  4. Louise Balsmeyer says:

    “Currently, Wesleyan University, Amherst College, and Trinity College, are partners with A Better Chance, QuestBridge, and the Posee Foundation respectively. By focusing on these institutions, a clearer view of how colleges and universities attempt to diversify their classes and campuses without looking at every single institution in America.”

    I really like the topic idea and I like how it expands over a long period of time, but I am confused about what your thesis is and from what point you are analyzing the implementation of diversity into colleges. Are you illustrating every element that these three programs have and how they’ve affected student life in college? Are these the only programs that are being used? Are they only utilized in the three colleges you speak of? What is your argument?

    I really enjoy the student perspective and including individual names such as Barnwell, but I agree with Fionnuala that it is tricky to select periods of time that are very broad because it gives you so many occurrences to report on and you don’t have enough time or energy to write about all of them. I have the same issue with my research paper. I would focus on a few notorious events and dwell on the significance of each.

    You definitely have a good foundation of appropriate sources for Wesleyan, but I’m worried that you need a lot more, particularly about the other two colleges you want to examine. I would also find sources that aren’t Wesleyan subjective, meaning find objective sources that will enhance your evidential support.

    You have included some appropriate background for audiences unfamiliar with the topic, but I believe that if I weren’t an education major and familiar with diversity, I wouldn’t necessarily understand automatically the necessity for such a topic. I would include some relevance and why your topic might be significant to you and our generation overall.

    Since you are using Wesleyan Newspapers as great resources, I would find pictures/videos/etc to enhance your paper, especially to draw in the audience reading it.

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