Beyond Suspicion: How American Colleges and Universities Can Reduce Profiling Through Programming

It is believed by many Americans that on the night of February 26, 2012, seven-teen year old Trayvon Martin was profiled, stalked, and ultimately killed as a result of the ‘perceptive-suspicion’, which often invades the lived experiences of African American males in American society. In addressing the findings of the subsequent court case following the teen’s death, President Obama remarked: “there are very few African American men in the country who haven’t had the experience of being (profiled)… that includes me”.

In a study conducted by John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, a review of FBI data specific to justifiable homicide found that in non-Stand Your Ground states, whites are 250 percent more likely to be found justified in killing a black person than a white person who kills another white person. In Stand Your Ground states, that number jumps to 354 percent. In some respect these statistics suggest that within the context of how we as a nation determine guilt and innocence, it is far more likely to be believed that a minority person killed by a white person, is presumably more deserving of his/her fate, than would be believed true for a white person killed by another white person. In light these statistical imbalances, the question for our nation is how do we reduce and eliminate the experiences of ‘profiling’ and ‘assumptive-guilt’, to which many in our country are unfairly subject?

Much of the opportunity to provide frame and structure to the conversation, and achieve positive social change within American society, rest within the higher education community. Colleges and universities after all, have historically served to provide ‘thought-leadership’ to American society, and represent arguably the most significant time in the developmental journey of pliable, young adult students seeking to form their own identities, and life paradigms as they transition from largely ‘dependent’ life realities and world-views, to ‘independent’ realities and world-views within the context of the ‘college-bubble’. In general terms, colleges take in young adults for whom parents are responsible, and graduate adults who should ultimately be responsible for themselves, and the betterment of society.

And frankly this most recent polarizing example of ‘profiling’ could not have come at a better time for American higher education. As questions of cost, relevance, and the meaningful use of the ‘college experience’ remain at the forefront of national discussion and debate, colleges and universities have a unique opportunity to play a critical leadership role in correcting the punitive dynamics of race in our nation, while concurrently achieving the realization of a more sensitive, broadminded, and ethnically aware citizenry within the United States.

Given the current landscape of American higher education, and the nature of the opportunities that lie ahead to improve the lived experience’s for African American males, and other minority groups within American society, I offer three imperatives upon which higher education must act in order to seize this opportunity to lead efforts toward positive change, from the American campus, to the larger American culture.

1. Focus the learning experience on the intercultural and global competencies needed for success in today’s diverse society. In today’s global environment, colleges and universities bear a tremendous responsibility to construct and deliver educational programming that not only equips students to compete and succeed intellectually across academic disciplines, but also intelligently across a number of cultural expressions and experiences. In short, higher education bears a large portion of the responsibility for the emergence of a fully integrated person, post matriculation. Persons who are emotionally mature, and embody the wherewithal to think critically and compassionately across a myriad of far reaching societal issues. Moving forward, colleges and universities must continue to prioritize curricular and co-curricular programming that intentionally exposes students to a global context, and the realities incumbent therein. Diversity in new student recruitment, study abroad programming, diversity education programming, real-world simulative experiences, etc, must be positioned as ‘mission critical’ to the learning experience, and not positioned as merely ancillary components of the larger academic experience. Diversity education must become imperative to the full completion of the educational process, and a permanent part of our educational identity.

2. Ensure that the use of emerging technology within the educational experience incorporates the opportunity to build community. As we continue to move things online what happens to our opportunity to build community? In considering the rise, placement, and the scalability of delivery through Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC’s), Dan Greenstein of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, raised questions as to whether or not higher education is suffering from “innovation exhaustion”. While others like Cathy Sandeen, Vice President for Education Attainment and Innovation, at the American Council on Education (ACE), have raised concerns about the “meaningful use”, and “appropriate placement” of the advanced technology in higher education. As technological advances continue to provide expanded platforms upon which to deliver educational programming, colleges and universities must take a serious look at how they will maintain the vital essence of ‘community’, which has historically been a critical under-pinning to both the college experience, and the social development of students. Much of the ‘student development’ and paradigm formation that occurs during the college years hinges on the historical, yet brilliant concept of human interaction and personal engagement, both inside and outside of the classroom; as cultural expressions and experiences collide, and students organically develop the framework for how they will articulate ‘community’ within their unique spatial circumstances. And as the demand to offer more insular learning opportunities increases, colleges and universities must find new ways to integrate the ‘human’ touch in both curricular and co-curricular learning, and must continue to help students provide meaningful response to the following: (a) Who am I, (b) Who are my peers, (c) How do we live in community, (d) What will my life produce, (e) and What will be my legacy. Colleges and universities are in a unique position to define what knowledge about the world graduates take away with them, and must ensure the continuance of meaningful and introspective dialogue with students.

3. Leverage collective influence to ensure that diversity remains a legal priority in college admissions. Although it is clear that our nation has achieved great strides in improving the lived the experiences of minority populations, there remains an even greater opportunity to expand the reach of diversity and inclusion even further. The recent Supreme Court ruling in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case, in many ways left more questions than answers, and provided little if any guidance for how colleges and universities should manage efforts to achieve student diversity in higher education going forward. In a 2009 speech to a Joint Session of Congress, President Obama noted that the educational levels of our citizens, puts our nation at risk for economic decline, noting that “countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow”. Much research has conclusively shown that diversity in our learning environments improves critical thinking, research and innovation, and is an overall economic asset. Colleges and universities must identify ways to wield their collective influence to shape the policies that govern admission practices to ensure that diversity in college admissions is protected as mission critical to our advancement as a nation, and not merely viewed as a social cause for minority populations.

American higher education has a tremendous opportunity to shape the future of American society, and positively address many of the ‘ills’ that plague our nation. Providing the appropriate educational experiences to our emerging young citizens will enable them to move beyond uninformed biases, and the limiting stereotypes that often accompany those biases.

Maintaining this focus will be critical to ensuring that future generations have the intellectual dexterity and awareness to engage both society, and the marketplace with an informed global consciousness; and further ensure that they are poised and prepared to thrive in the world of diverse ideas. Colleges and universities should lead the way in framing the path to achieve these outcomes. No other institution in American society is more qualified to do so.

How to eMail Your Professor

So its 12:30 Pm and there you are at the computer trying to refresh the email inbox page. The big test is tomorrow and your Professor still hasn’t replied back, but why? Contrary to popular belief, that your Professor wants you to fail, the problem could stem from the fact that your email never reached him/her. Hence, the purpose of this guide is to show students how to write an effective email to their Professors.

The From Field

Always use your University or College email address when sending an email to your professor. This not only assures the professor that you are indeed a student but also avoids your email from getting put in the spam box. Many Universities and Colleges now employ a system of only allowing emails to be received from certain domains anything else (hotmail, yahoo…etc) is either automatically put in the spam box or is forwarded to the Professor as a potential spam.

Example:

[email protected]

The To Field

This is the single most important field, if you mess up in here there you can kiss your email good bye. Avoid putting the Professor’s name with the email (A Prof ), since not all emailing system can handle this format. It is always best to send your email to the Professor’s University or College account, since that is the email account that your Professor checks, or should check, the most. And again before sending the email double check to verify that email address was typed correctly.

Example:

[email protected]

The Subject Field

The subject field should be of the following format:

CollegeName-CourceCode-Title-Subject

CollegeName: Is the name of your post secondary institution (America Learning College, Boston University…etc). Yes I do realize that this may seem a bit redundant but it is important. Most Professors (Usually new Professors) teach at one or more Universities and Colleges at any given term, and the email from those institutions gets forwarded to one main address, usually their ISP email address. So to keep things organized its best to write the name of the College or University in the Subject Field.

CourseCode: Is the code name of the course (MTH140, CPS124, GEF345…etc). It’s best to keep the letters Capital and no spaces between the number and letter.

Title: Over here you type in the title of your subject. (Test 1, Midterm, Exam, Assignment 5…etc)

Subject: Over here you type in what concern or problem you might have (Due Date Issue, Missed Test Issue, HW Problem #45…etc). Remember to keep it brief, no more then 5 words.

Example:

Boston College-MTH140-Assignment 4-HW Problem #45

The Text Body Field

Try to keep things simple, clean and to the point. By that I mean no 2 page emails or fancy fonts and color, remember your first priority is to convey your message not to show off your email editing skills. Start off with writing the Professors name (Prof C.Mcgill, Prof U.Stan…etc). Move on to the subject of your email, as a reminder restate the Course Code and Title Field (During the Monday’s MTH140 class you stated for Assignment 4). The next line should state the problem or concern. Remember to provide details and avoid repetitions. Its best to end the email with a salutatory statement (Thank You, Yours Truly..etc) and use your name, student number and College or University name as signature.

Example:

Prof C. Mcgill,

During the Monday’s MTH140 class you stated for Assignment 4 question #41 to use the second derivative theorem. However, I am having trouble as to how to find the delta X? In particular, during the situation when time is 3 seconds and delta Y is 0. Do we set delta Y to Ymin and solve from there?

Thank You

_________________

Any Student

#:0101010101

Boston University

Things to Keep In Mind

– Give a minimum of one weekday for Professors to reply back, before sending another email.

– Avoid sending multiple duplicate emails at any one given time.

– Try to send emails during weekdays and if possible during the Professors office hours.

– Try to be respectful and Professional (i.e. no offensive language, spell check…etc).

– Avoid taking out frustration by spamming the Professors email box.

Federal PLUS Loans

As a student entering college, it is very unlikely that you have a few spare checks lying around that you can cash and magically use to pay for college. Most college-aged students, ranging from late teens through mid-twenties, have no line of credit and cannot receive much money in loans if they need to do so in order to attend college. Therefore, a loan like the federal PLUS loan through the federal government and U.S. Department of Education makes it easy for you, as a potential college student, to use your parents’ line of credit in order to gain financing options for your higher education.

How Your Parents Can Help You Apply

If your parents have good credit and you obtain them a copy of the Direct PLUS loan application, you are well on your way to cracking the college books and arriving on campus in the fall. Keep in mind that in order to receive a federal PLUS loan, you must be a dependent potential undergraduate at any college or university in the U.S. You also must be planning on attending college for at least half-time during the upcoming semester. If these all apply to you, obtain a Direct PLUS loan application and promissory note, fill them out with signatures completed, and hand them in to the financial aid office at your college or university.

Fill Out A FAFSA Form First!

Have you tried filling out your FAFSA form yet? If not, you may already be entitled to financial aid and/or loans and scholarships that could benefit you! While it is not required for you to fill out the FAFSA form to receive a federal PLUS loan, be aware that you could receive thousands of dollars without even having to use your parents’ credit in the first place. Still, if you are not eligible for any other scholarships, the federal PLUS loan will enable you to receive financing for any portion of your college or university bill not covered by other financial aid (i.e. If college costs you $5000 a year and you already receive $4000 in financial aid, a PLUS loan will lend you the other $1000). Federal PLUS loans can help put you through college, even if you do not have a solid line of credit yet.

This article is distributed by NextStudent. At NextStudent, we believe that getting an education is the best investment you can make, and we’re dedicated to helping you pursue your education dreams by making college funding as easy as possible. We invite you to learn more about how to get Federal Plus Loans at www.NextStudent.com .

Federal PLUS Loans

As a student entering college, it is very unlikely that you have a few spare checks lying around that you can cash and magically use to pay for college. Most college-aged students, ranging from late teens through mid-twenties, have no line of credit and cannot receive much money in loans if they need to do so in order to attend college. Therefore, a loan like the federal PLUS loan through the federal government and U.S. Department of Education makes it easy for you, as a potential college student, to use your parents’ line of credit in order to gain financing options for your higher education.

How Your Parents Can Help You Apply

If your parents have good credit and you obtain them a copy of the Direct PLUS loan application, you are well on your way to cracking the college books and arriving on campus in the fall. Keep in mind that in order to receive a federal PLUS loan, you must be a dependent potential undergraduate at any college or university in the U.S. You also must be planning on attending college for at least half-time during the upcoming semester. If these all apply to you, obtain a Direct PLUS loan application and promissory note, fill them out with signatures completed, and hand them in to the financial aid office at your college or university.

Fill Out A FAFSA Form First!

Have you tried filling out your FAFSA form yet? If not, you may already be entitled to financial aid and/or loans and scholarships that could benefit you! While it is not required for you to fill out the FAFSA form to receive a federal PLUS loan, be aware that you could receive thousands of dollars without even having to use your parents’ credit in the first place. Still, if you are not eligible for any other scholarships, the federal PLUS loan will enable you to receive financing for any portion of your college or university bill not covered by other financial aid (i.e. If college costs you $5000 a year and you already receive $4000 in financial aid, a PLUS loan will lend you the other $1000). Federal PLUS loans can help put you through college, even if you do not have a solid line of credit yet.

This article is distributed by NextStudent. At NextStudent, we believe that getting an education is the best investment you can make, and we’re dedicated to helping you pursue your education dreams by making college funding as easy as possible. We invite you to learn more about how to get Federal Plus Loans at www.NextStudent.com .