News Local/State

U of I Report Details Episodes Of Racial Microaggressions

Researcher Ruby Mendenhall sits in her office holding a copy of the Racial Microaggressions in the Classroom report.

Ruby Mendenhall says the report was intended to explore various and subtle forms of racism that take place in the classroom (Photo: Tiffany Jolley)

Students of color at the University of Illinois say they hear racist remarks, are subjected to stereotypes, feel excluded in group projects or receive other negative messages based on race, according to a new report on race relations.

The report, “Racial Microaggressions at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: Voices of Students of Color in the Classroom,” looks at issues of inclusion, diversity and the racial climate in learning environments on campus.

The report was written by Stacy Harwood, a professor of urban and regional planning; Ruby Mendenhall, a professor of sociology and of African American studies; and Margaret Browne Huntt, a research development specialist in the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Initiative.

The research group also produced a report in 2010 on racial microaggressions in student housing on campus.

Mendenhall says she was surprised to hear some of the students' responses, including reports of microinvalidations (A form of microaggression that excludes or negates a person's thoughts, feelings or reality) from classmates and professors.

The student’s voices reveal instances of sitting unwelcome in the classroom, hearing racist conversations, experiencing offensive lecture content, suffering with exclusion and harassment in group projects, and being subjected to stereotypes in class discussions and small group interactions.

Students also reported encountering racial steering in advising about courses and major selection.

The report provides recommendations to help administrators focus on effective policies, curricula, faculty training, student codes of conduct and cultural and ethnic programming.