Why #BlackOnCampus Is Going Viral

November 11th 2015

Kyle Jaeger

Across the country, students are taking a stand against racism on campus. Protests at the University of Missouri forced school president Tim Wolfe to resign, and now students at Ithaca College in New York are following Mizzou's lead, staging a walk-out and calling for president Tom Rochon's resignation.

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Both school presidents have been accused of inadequately responding to racist incidents that have taken place on campus in recent weeks. And after a white 19-year-old allegedly threatened via social media to shoot Black students at the Missouri school on Tuesday, the group that organized the protests encouraged Twitter users to share their experiences with racism using the hashtag #BlackOnCampus.

Thousands of people responded with Tweets describing the systemic racism that Black students have faced, and continue to face, at American universities. Many students pointed to misconceptions about the relationship between race and enrollment—with white students assuming that minorities were enrolled as athletes or as a result of race-based admissions.

Others discussed feeling discriminated against by administrators, professors, and students.

While protests at the University of Missouri and Ithaca College have stood out in the national media, they are only two of the latest examples of college students taking action against racism on campus. Controversial incidents involving racist Halloween costumes at UCLA and Yale University prompted protests by Black rights student groups as well this year.

There are lifelong consequences to experiencing racism in school.

Studies have found that the racial climate of American universities is directly related to academic success. Campus racism can cause students of color to drop out—an effect that can be traced through the graduation rates for Black students.

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"The psychological attitudes between and among groups, as well as intergroup relations on campuses, influences how well students of color perform and whether they stay on track toward graduation," the Washington Post reported. "Graduation rates lag when schools don't provide an environment that fosters the scholastic pursuits of minority students, particularly black men."