Whatever the colleges’ intentions, the pressure to lead now defines and constricts our children’s adolescence. One young woman told me about her childhood as a happy and enthusiastic reader, student and cellist — until freshman year of high school, when “college applications loomed on the horizon, and suddenly, my every activity was held up against the holy grail of ‘leadership,’ ” she recalled. “And everyone knew,” she added, “that it was not the smart people, not the creative people, not the thoughtful pe
It’s true that, in fulfilling the duties of the presidency with great dignity, Mr. Obama represents the highest expression of the goal of assimilation. But for African-Americans, he was also the ultimate lesson in how this antidote alone is insufficient to heal the gaping wounds of racial injustice in America. It’s clear that black leadership, in itself, isn’t enough to transform the country. So we must confront the end of an era and the dawn of a new one.
The Center for Advancing Opportunity is being established in Washington, D.C., to act as a coordinating body and grant administrator. Three HBCUs will be selected in the future to host research centers. The number of on-campus research centers could grow if they’re successful. But mechanisms have not been developed for deciding which institutions receive research centers, which professors receive funding or which students receive scholarship money.
“In the immediate aftermath of the protests at Mizzou and Yale, there were days when the phones were ringing almost nonstop,” Shaun Harper, the center’s executive director, said. “We were getting so many calls from leaders asking, ‘Can you come and do a climate study?’ Spending four days on a campus interviewing hundreds of people is intense. It was getting to the point that we were exceeding our capacity.”
As a student at New York University and the daughter of a civil servant at the United States Department of State, I am familiar with political unrest and its potentially disastrous outcomes in the arms of ignorance and hysteria. I did not hold any particularly strong opinions about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. If I had voted, however, I would have picked Mr. Trump. I was focused on school. I had no idea that a few days later I would be dismissed as a “Trump supporter” and a person of “privilege” who “reflected an us versus them mind-set” in an essay by my college roommate in this publication — an essay that would go viral and change my life.
“We’ve got to stand up on behalf of our students who are the most vulnerable,” King said. “We’ve got to stand up for our students of color and insist on safe environments for them. We’ve got to stand up for our female students and insist on environments free of sexism. We’ve got to stand up for our students who are in religious minority groups who may be wrongly persecuted based on their religion. We’ve got to stand up for our students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We’ve got to stand
This is a very real point. College students, and young people in general are the biggest losers in this election. Not in the theoretical sense of losing out on just moral leadership, but more specifically in that unlike Clinton, Trump was never pushed to seriously engage issues about college debt and education financing.
“That’s the risk of trying to appeal to the everyday man, by de-emphasizing the importance of education, you run into a situation where education is put on the back burner and then institutions of higher education experience significant cuts and then we have trouble preparing the next generation of voters,” Ms. Tolson said. “I do see it as probably the biggest and honestly the saddest fallout of how our political system has developed.”
Reading Hillbilly Elegy, I thought about how much time we spend imploring students to seek guidance for obstacles of our own devising. We produce bureaucratic hurdles, then ask students to assume good faith and a willingness to help on the part of professors and administrators who don’t always exhibit such openness.
College should be “sold” to all students as an opportunity to experience an intellectual awakening. All students should learn that privilege is connected to the pursuit of passions. People are privileged to follow their hearts in life, to spend their time crafting an identity instead of simply surviving. Access to higher education means that your values and interests can govern your choices. It makes sense that privileged 18-year-olds who have already learned that lesson gravitate to liberal-arts colleges. I would prefer not to live in a country in which rhetoric about the purpose of college urges kids from privileged backgrounds to be innovators and creators while the poor kids who do very well in school are taught to be educated, capable employees.