cover image Speaking of Race and Class: The Student Experience at an Elite College

Speaking of Race and Class: The Student Experience at an Elite College

Elizabeth Aries, with Richard Berman. Temple Univ., $29.95 trade paper (246p) ISBN 978-1-4399-0967-6

In this eye-opening follow-up to Race and Class Matters at an Elite College, Aries interviews the same 58 Amherst undergraduates from the class of 2009 after graduation. The students discuss their experiences and attitudes concerning race and class from the perspective of being affluent or low-income, and white or black, on a campus actively pursuing diversity. With coauthor Berman, Aries (a professor of psychology at Amherst) examines such issues as stereotyping, interracial dating, the effect of financial disparity on socialization, formal diversity curricula, self-segregation, and ability to communicate to family about campus experience. The extensive and well-edited interview material gives students a primary voice. By looking at race and class as two independent axes, rather than conflating them, and exploring the experiences of lower-income white and affluent black students, this study teases out the aspects of campus life in which the intersection of race and class may be relevant. While a diverse campus can reduce stereotyping and facilitate self-discovery and growth, cross-cultural understanding, and empathy, these benefits are not automatic and often not realized for students when their individual experiences are negative. Aries makes a compelling case for universities to manage the formal and informal learning environment on campus from a diversity perspective well beyond the admissions process. (Nov.)