Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!

Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today

U.S. public schools have been resegregated. Massive incarceration of black and Latino/Latina Americans has created the new Jim Crow. And while a vibrant black middle class does exist, poverty levels in the U.S. of people of color remain at a high level (The official U.S. Census estimate of poverty in 2015 was 13.5 percent of the population, or 43.1 million people… this absurdly low estimate is based on archaic accounting devices to purportedly measure poverty and does not count people who live from paycheck to paycheck on subsistence wages), with official policies hurting those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder extending back to the early 1980s and the beginning of the trickle-down era of “voodoo economics” and massive shifts toward income inequality and the absence of living wages and work opportunities.

Although problematic in a no growth economy for millions of people, higher education is still a way toward a better life, to a certain extent.. The fact of being an educated individual makes the value of higher education carry many benefits that are not quantifiable, although students and graduates with massive debt from college loans and poor work opportunities may wish to argue against this premise.

I knew what I saw when students sat in front of me at community colleges over a period of several years. There were many black and Hispanic students. The statistics on community college education bore that fact out. “Since 1994, black enrollment has doubled at institutions that primarily grant associate degrees…” From the 11 percent figure in 1994, to 16 percent in 2013 (“The Missing Black Students at Elite American Universities, the Atlantic, November 23, 2015). Unfortunately, these statistics don’t reflect the abysmal graduation rates of minority group students and other students at these post-secondary institutions. Generally, under 30 percent of incoming freshman eventually graduate.

Schools that grant bachelor and graduate degrees saw enrollment of black students go from 11 percent in 1994 to 14 percent in 2013. However, at so-called “top-tier universities,” the number of black students remained “largely flat for 20 years” according to the Atlantic article. That figure stood at 6 percent despite the fact that the U.S. Census showed that 15 percent of the college-age population was black. Many schools, like elite Harvard University saw a drop in black students to 6.5 percent in 2013 “down from 7.4 percent in 1994.”

Many students of color feel “very much on the fringes” the Atlantic reported. Other issues, such as support for minority students play an enormously important part in the experience of minority students in higher education. At the school where I taught in upstate New York  for several years, despite there being an academic and advisory support program in place—the Graduation Assistance Program (GAP)—I never knew a single minority student in any of my classes who reported actually getting support from that program despite the fact that staff positions existed to fulfill those helping roles. What exactly that staff did during the day remains a mystery to me to this day.

Inclusiveness on college campuses is also a major issue for minority students. Students of similar racial groups tended to sit together in my classes even though there was an open seating policy. Of particular concern was the fact that many minority group students gravitated toward the back of classrooms. That experience repeated itself with some students over the course of many years.

On a recent informal visit to the campus of the State University of New York at Albany, I noticed a similar phenomenon taking place on the common spaces between dormitories and academic buildings. Almost all students moved around the campus with members of their own group. Although the latter is absolutely not meant to draw any conclusions of merit for consideration by the social sciences, it struck as strange in 2017.

I wanted to hear the voices of some students during the campus visit. I was interested in finding out what kinds of subjects they studied. The first student I interviewed was a mathematics major. He spoke highly of his academic concentration and discussed majors that he would not recommend on the basis of their perceived quality. I then interviewed a couple. The young woman was a business major who had transferred from Mount Holyoke College in western Massachusetts. She spoke highly of her academic major. Her friend was visiting from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He was also a business major and spoke highly of that program and talked about how difficult it was to get into U Mass-Amherst.

What struck me after these discussions with students was that they studied majors that were of practical value in post-college or graduate school settings. An educated guess would be that these students had to fulfill academic requirements within their majors that included the arts and sciences. Had I remained on campus longer, and spoke to more students, I may have met students studying subjects in the liberal arts.


In a great loss for the left, Edward Herman, co-author of Manufacturing Consent with Noam Chomsky, has died. Here’s Edward Herman on the Real News Network in July 2012: “I am a real pessimist about politics in America. I think the scene has gotten really bad…(“Ed Herman, Co-Author of “Manufacturing Consent”).


More articles by:

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena