The racial divide at Skidmore College: Practical Race and Diversity

Posted by Danny Pforte

When I came to Skidmore, I had no idea what to expect. Throughout high school I was never encouraged much to attend college. But I was a good student, and my girlfriend at the time urged me to apply to prestigious colleges. And after much financial aid, Skidmore happened to be the one school I could afford.

Skidmore was a shock from the beginning. I grew up in Cambridge, MA, a diverse community whose residents are of many different races and socioeconomic backgrounds. I am Asian and white, and I grew up in a lower income household. Before college, my friends reflected Cambridge's diversity. When I arrived at Skidmore, I quickly noticed that the student body consists mostly of upper-class white kids. At first, this made me feel uncomfortable.

As freshman year progressed, I befriended many students of color, and I hung out with them daily. Their companionship has taught me the importance of balancing one's social life with the rigorous academic expectations of our elite college. Furthermore, I think that their friendship has provided me with the opportunity to combat racial stereotypes that weigh so heavily upon American society.

But what I have noticed is that Skidmore does not provide the appropriate environment to foster these relationships. The white population is by far the majority, and it seems to me hypocritical that our school can advertise itself as being diverse and liberal when the reality is the opposite.

I think that the institution must further enact the diversity and liberalism that it pretends to embody. But as things stand, Skidmore's efforts to do so often don't help the situation at all. For example, only minority first-year students are invited to the diversity dinner a few days before the rest of the campus arrives. Excluding the white population from admission events such as this one — their first experience with the college — does nothing to promote a sense of community. Furthermore, singling out the minority students for special events could make them feel as though they were only admitted because of their race.

Both Skidmore faculty and students must work together to take action against the racial divide at our college. The few students and faculty working on this issue must be given our support. So if Skidmore wants a truly diverse student body, now is the time to make it a reality.

Danny Pforte is a sophomore from Cambridge, Mass. who studies social work. He is inspired by Malcolm X, Jay-Z and Bernie Sanders.

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