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Issues in Higher Education and DePauw University

NCORE (National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education)

Posted in Reports

NCORE logo

by Vince Greer (Assistant Dean of Students for Diversity and Inclusion, Director of Multicultural Student Services) and Anne Harris (Vice President for Academic Affairs)

This year’s NCORE was held in San Francisco from May 31 to June 4 and, in this its 29 th year, hosted an unprecedented 3,500 participants. Organized along a series of workshops, presentations, caucuses, and keynote addresses, NCORE is both a networking and a strategic conference addressing experiences in higher education connected to race and ethnicity for students, faculty, and staff.

Four keynote speakers gathered all participants of the conference.

Shaun Harper from the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania identified the “emotional labor” of higher education for many black students, staff, and faculty, using Beyonce’s narrative and spoken word visual album, Lemonade, as a critical framework. His concept of the “academic motherhood and fatherhood” of black faculty and staff amplifies the analysis of “cultural taxation” for faculty of color discussed recently in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

At the age of 87, Dolores Huerta can still not only command a crowd, but bring it to its feet. The roots of her long career in labor activism are in education, when her own experiences as a teacher of migrant laborers’ children pushed her to create better work conditions for their parents. Her open invitation to activism for social justice came full circle with the powerful phrase “Education is the new civil rights movement.”

In her description of Project 562, documenting experiences of the 562 federally recognized First Nations in the United States through photography, Matika Wilbur practices the intersection of creativity and social justice. In a narrative and assessment of First Nations people’s place in the history of the United States, she introduced the phrase “The past is always happening;” to counter that narrative, she offered the Cherokee word “gadugi” – working together.

Danny Glover identifies his work as that of “speaker, actor, activist, humanitarian.” He linked education to participatory democracy and opened a conversation about the role of each and every member of colleges and universities working to preserve that link. A film he’d like to make a about the Haitian revolution of 1791 would tell the story of education and its implementation into a democracy.

Of the many panels attended and participated in, here are brief synopses from just a few, identifying key terms and concepts active in conversation.

“Reevaluating assessments and adding a more holistic and humanistic aspect to the fold.” When administering assessment it is critical to authentically hear and engage a full spectrum of voices, views and vantage points. Privilege grants the cultural authority to make judgments about others and to have these judgments stick. It also dictates who and what receives attention and what’s deemed worthy of resources. It is imperative to allow all voices to be heard, particularly the population the assessment is administered to and meant to serve.

“Respectability Politics” is what happens when minority and/or marginalized groups are told (or teach themselves) that in order to receive better treatment from the group in power, they must behave better. This can come in the form of altering hairstyles, dress, speech patterns or activism tactics.

“Black Male Initiatives and Fixing the ‘Problem’ of Higher Education” evaluated the effects of looking at black male achievements through a deficit model versus focusing more on the achievements and what is working for the population that is matriculating. It is critical to be more inclusive in terms of expanding safe spaces and support groups to also affirm Black males who may not fit the historical mode or profiles of blackness (i.e. LGBT, students from more affluent backgrounds etc.).

“Cross-Cultural Influences of Fraternities and Sororities” examined the terms of interaction of predominantly-white organizations – NPC (National Panhellenic Council, women), IFC(Inter Fraternity Council, men) – and multi-cultural Greek organizations – NPHC (National Pan-Hellenic Council, African-American), NALFO (National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations, Latino/a), and NAPA (National Asian Pacific Islander American Panhellenic Association, Asian/American, Pacific Islander) and invites a conversation about partnerships among DePauw’s Greek organizations.

These sessions and their ideas connect with our work at DePauw including the American Whiteness series from fall of 2015, our Faculty Triad and Faculty Innovation grant work this spring, our May workshops (Power, Privilege, and Diversity, Environmental Justice, Inclusive Pedagogy for STEM Fields), and our faculty and staff participation in SEED, ARPAC and Reacting to the Past national workshops. NCORE underscores the importance and effect of our work in the classroom, on our campus, and throughout our community.

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