Profs: ‘Colorblind approach to reopening’ will hurt students of color

  • In a recent op-ed, professors highlighted racial inequalities of COVID-19 in preparation of return to campus.
  • The professors said that a "colorblind" reopening apporach would only hurt students of color.

As the 2020 fall semester draws closer, college professors are citing racial disparity from COVID-19 as a reason not to open campuses in the fall, with some even claiming that race needs to be a factor in reopening plans. 

Louisville University associate professor of sociology W. Carson Byrd and University of Michigan clinical assistant professor William D. Lopez shared their disagreements with having a “colorblind approach” to reopening college campuses in a recent Washington Post op-ed.

"Amid the continuing uncertainty, a better approach is needed — specifically, a plan that focuses on the most marginalized and underserved students first."   

“Unless universities purposefully center the experiences and needs of students of color in their reopening plans, they will increase racial inequity regardless of whether classes are held in person or online,” the professors wrote. 

[RELATED: University earmarks $1 million for COVID-19 hardships of ‘Black and Hispanic' students]

The professors alluded to economic differences between Black and White communities. They alleged that colleges do not support their Black students as well as their White students. 

“Amid the continuing uncertainty, a better approach is needed — specifically, a plan that focuses on the most marginalized and underserved students first. Universities must address the many structural obstacles these students face, not only in terms of studying, but also the health and economic disparities that have been exposed by the coronavirus pandemic on and off campus,” they wrote.

“Although not everyone attends Harvard, the University of Michigan or other well-resourced universities or colleges, a pattern exists in which students of color are not supported during college the way their white peers are," said the pair. "All of this fuels the growing racial disparities in wealth and student loan debt affecting students of color and their families, as well as their access to affordable health care despite the implementation of the Affordable Care Act."

This comes after President Donald Trump made numerous pleas for schools to reopen in the fall. 

This included threatening to cut funding for schools that do not open, along with forcing international students to return to their home countries if their classes were all online, before rescinding the policy. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany recently explained that the president wants the schools to reopen, and does not believe that the risk of infection is high enough to stop this.

RELATED: Trump blasts Harvard for taking 'easy way out,' threatens to cut funding

“And when he says open, he means open in full — kids being able to attend each and every day at their school,” McEnany said of the President.

“The science is on our side here, and we encourage for localities and states to just simply follow the science, open our schools.  It’s very damaging to our children: There is a lack of reporting of abuse; there’s mental depressions that are not addressed; suicidal ideations that are not addressed when students are not in school.  Our schools are extremely important, they’re essential, and they must reopen,” McEnany added.

Byrd and Lopez argued that simply changing the names of buildings will not eradicate racial discrimination on college campuses.

“In line with demands for changes in society, demands for change on college campuses must not stop at renaming buildings, because racial inequity is embedded within other aspects of universities, as noted by higher education scholar Eddie Cole,” the professors said. “If universities don’t consider how the pandemic is amplifying these racial inequities despite many calls to do so, their use of a colorblind approach to reopening will only perpetuate the marginalization of students of color.”

Byrd and Lopez did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Dean_Barker



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Dean Barker
Dean Barker | Virginia Campus Correspondent

Dean Barker is a Virginia Campus Correspondent, reporting on liberal bias and abuse for Campus Reform. He is a Senior at Bridgewater College, where he majors in Professional Writing and minors in Communications. He is the sports editor for BC Voice, his school newspaper, and also frequently discusses politics on the BC Voice radio show.

20 Articles by Dean Barker