As we begin a new academic year, many colleges and universities find themselves with heightened sensitivity around issues of race. Led by the unrest last year at the University of Missouri, dozens of campuses from coast to coast saw protests as students of color, particularly black students, reached a collective breaking point. As students saw their peers at Missouri create a national conversation and topple both a system president and campus chancellor, they found the courage to address similar concerns on their respective campuses.
A typical outcome was a list of demands. Several themes emerged from the campuses: changing names of buildings, more black students, faculty and staff, mandatory diversity training, targeted support and counseling for black students, and the creation of safe spaces including in designated residential halls. Campuses have responded in kind with task forces, new initiatives, and the hiring of chief diversity officers.