Varieties and Trinity College
Trinity College is where all different kinds of people meet up and spend 4 years together. As the importance of varieties is getting bigger and bigger, students get to meet different people easily. People may meet some people they have never met before and share precious time. However, even though Trinity College suggests friendly relationships with people no matter what racial, social, and financial background they have, there are still many difficulties and differences between the students.
There are many different ways to categorize the students of Trinity College. Some may suggest the subjects the students are majoring in can be a good factor of grouping while some may recommend the clubs the students are in can be a better one. While analyzing the differences of the students in social sense, the race and the social class of the students would be good factors. With the factors and several other interesting patterns from the groups of students, which will be referred later, one can realize that non-white students in Trinity College are relatively ashamed of their backgrounds, unlike other white students.
In Trinity College, one fifth of the students are non-white. The President Jones says, “Trinity had also tried to improve diversity by increasing its financial aid at a time when other parts of the budget are being cut” (Hu, 1). Also, Trinity College has been “committed to doing everything humanly possible for the diversity of the students’ body” (Hu, 2). Yet Trinity does have one of the highest acceptance rates among liberal arts colleges for black students, who make up 5 % of the student body, according to a survey by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. In 2006, according to New York Times, Trinity accepted 52.8 % of black applicants, compared to 42.8 % of all applicants. In comparison, Amherst accepted 48.3 % of black applicants, Swarthmore accepted 37.4 %, and Wesleyan accepted 34.7 %. However, despite Trinity’s effort, it has significantly a lower minority population ratio than at other similar sized liberal art college, such as Williams (28%), Amherst (31%), and Wesleyan (26%). Why? Why is the percentage of racial minorities in Trinity significantly low? The school committee try its best for non-whites, as the President Jones say. It’s easier for non-white (especially African American) students to get in. All these data show that non-white students “avoid” Trinity College.
Why do non-white students avoid Trinity College? Again, the school committee is doing its best to recruit students from non-white racial bases; perhaps, the institution itself does not have a significant problem. Possibly the students and the atmosphere of the campus have some reasons why Trinity College is avoided by non-white. To find out what is there, the students of Jack Dougherty’s Freshman Seminar had interviews with 18 students in Trinity College and analyzed the transcripts of the interviews.
The reason why non-white students tend to avoid Trinity College, a great higher education institute that tries to provide a lot of opportunities for minority’s students is that they are ashamed of their races. There are total eight white students on the list of interviewers. Seven out of the eight white students are concerned with self-presentation. However, only a half of the ten non-white students are concerned with self-presentation. While white students are enthusiastically doing many stuffs and have influence on the campus, non-white students would not do anything. Out of the 18 interviewers, 15 of them agree that there are high racial barriers in the campus, which prevents the mix of students. As Luisa from the interview says, “everything is separated by race here.” (Dougherty, 9).
There is a theory how people group themselves by race: Racial Identity Development theory. In her book “Why Are All Black Kids in the Cafeteria”, Beverly Daniel Tatum explains the Racial Identity Development theory. According to the theory, there are five different steps how one developed his racial identity: pre-encounter, encounter, immersion/emersion, internalization, and internalization-commitment.
Pre-encounter is the stage where “a child absorbs many of the beliefs and values of the dominant culture, including the idea that it is better to be White. The stereotypes, omissions, and distortions…” (Tatum, 55). In this stage, racial identity has “not been realized…and not yet under examination” (Tatum, 55). Encounter is the stage where the individual experience a certain level of racism, which leads to self-segregation and an active desire to find those who have shared experiences. On these first two steps, students start believing socially dominant opinions, such as being white is superior.
Immersion/Emersion is the phase in which races other than one’s own becomes irrelevant. He or she begins to act on desires of self-segregation and this phase is usually “characterized by a strong desire to surround oneself with symbols of one’s racial identity” (Tatum, 76). “In many ways, the person at the immersion/emersion phase is unlearning the internalized stereotypes about his or her own group and is redefining a positive sense of self (Tatum, 76).
Internalization is the point that one begins to develop racial pride and a sense of security, which establishes “meaningful relationships across group boundaries” (Tatum, 76). In Internalization-Commitment stage, one begins to advocate for beliefs pertaining to his/her race/ethnicity and “perceive and transcend race” (Tatum, 77). What stage they are in these Racial Identity Development theory, will determine child-rearing tactics, where they live, who they associate with. According to the theory, racial identities get formed, by step by step. People get emotionally attached to their racial groups. This theory can explain why people feel comfortable and tend to get along around the group with the same racial identity as theirs.
As an example, Kaylie’s interview would show that there are high race barriers in the campus. Kaylie is a half Hispanic and Black student from a big city. She used to go to a public school, but then later transferred to a private boarding school. She explains herself as a lower middle class child. The reason why Kaylie’s interview is interesting, is that she explains herself as “adopted to the white culture” (Dougherty, 37). She says she is very “white”, according to herself and her friends; more interestingly, both her non-white friends and white friends claim so. The way she talks, her music taste, the clothes she wears, and group of friends she hangs out with, are very “white”. Her life is a life of minority in Trinity in a nutshell. Even though she hangs out a lot and does several extracurricular activities, she claims that “I am different… At the end of the day, there are something that doesn’t change between her (Kaylie’s white friend) and me (Dougherty, 37).
It’s not hard to find the same case out of Trinity College. There is this video, “Skin Deep”, in which several students from several different college gather around and talk about their races. There are white students, black students, Hispanic students, and Asian students; however, the conversation somehow flows as white vs. non-white. In the video, Khanh, whose ethnicity is Taiwanese, says “while you guys (white students) are grown up to love yourself, I was grown up to hate myself and be ashamed of myself” (Skin Deep, 15:12). Khanh says this in a very extreme way, but perhaps he has a point. The non-white students seem to agree with what Khanh says and later share their experiences about how unfair their life has been. As another example, Freda, an African American, yells, “people are going to hate you because you (general term) are white!” (Skin Deep, 17:20). Perhaps, minorities’ students feel much more lonely and unfair than people can imagine.
Social class differences can cause separation between the students in Trinity College. How does social class difference in the campus directly affect the students? Race may be a different factor because people can clearly see the differences of individual in their physical appearances right away, but how does the social class work difference work? It’s not like there is a law that separate lower class from the society; welcome to the Democratic society and the 21st century! Surprisingly, according to the students, money can decide what kind of friends you have.
If one cannot afford the trend, she may be behind everything. Yvonne, a white student from Trinity, from the interview says, “If I like if my hair not done or if I’m wearing sweatpants and uggs or something like that um something that does not look name brand and put together people, people are less likely to held doors open for me, people are likely to speak to me like in a cord of people, people are less likely to acknowledge me whereas…” (Dougherty, 20). Perhaps, social class can be seen through one’s physical appearance. According to Yvonne, people don’t even open their mind for you unless you look fancy enough in all those trendy brands. Not just clothes, but doing anything also requires some fortune. Kaylie from the interview also says that “anything needs money. Going out, going to the party…everything needs money” (Dougherty, 36). Lack of money (lower social class) can limit one’s social life in Trinity.
Average Caucasian Americans are richer than average non-white Americans; however, it’s even worse in Trinity. The problem is that, since Trinity College gives more financial aid for minority students, it’s more likely that non-white students are less fortune than white students. For example, while six of the ten non-white students (60%) get financial aid, only three out of the eight white students (37.5%) get financial aid. The equation white is richer than non-white does not work all the time, but in general sense, the white students in Trinity College are relatively richer than non-white students, which causes social class differences between white students and non-white students.
Trinity College is a higher education institute that has a tradition of almost 200 years. It has many famous alumni members and is well known for its great academy. However, as society changes fast, Trinity needs to transform itself. In Trinity College, many non-white students feel afraid of joining the major groups; perhaps, they can’t. The racial and social differences between students must be solved in positive results, as soon as possible. No students should be ashamed and afraid of joining major groups in the campus only because of his backgrounds.
Hu, Winnie. “An Inward Look At Racial Tension At Trinity College.” – NYTimes.com. N.p., 18 Dec. 2006. Web. 02 Dec. 2013.
Reid, Frances. Skin Deep. Berkeley, CA: Iris Films, 1995.
Tatum, Beverly Daniel. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and Other Conversations about Race. New York: Basic, 1997. Print.
Trinity College. “Protesting Hate at Trinity College, April 2011,”. Hartfrod: Archival Documents and Manuscript Collections, 1 Apr. 2011.