Over the past three decades, colleges and universities have
committed to encouraging, embracing, and supporting diversity as a
core principle of their mission. But how are goals for achieving
and maintaining diversity actually met? What is the role of
students in this mission? When a university is committed to
diversity, what is campus culture like?
In Learning to Speak, Learning to Listen, Susan E.
Chase portrays how undergraduates at a predominantly white urban
institution, which she calls "City University" (a pseudonym), learn
to speak and listen to each other across social differences. Chase
interviewed a wide range of students and conducted content analyses
of the student newspaper, student government minutes, curricula,
and website to document diversity debates at this university. Amid
various controversies, she identifies a defining moment in the
campus culture: a protest organized by students of color to
highlight the university's failure to live up to its diversity
commitments. Some white students dismissed the protest, some were
hostile to it, and some fully engaged their peers of color.
In a book that will be useful to students and educators on
campuses undergoing diversity initiatives, Chase finds that both
students' willingness to share personal stories about their diverse
experiences and collaboration among student organizations, student
affairs offices, and academic programs encourage speaking and
listening across differences and help incorporate diversity as part
of the overall mission of the university.
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