LETTER: Sociology and anthropology faculty on DePauw’s campus climate

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As professional sociologists and anthropologists, we are committed to the scholarly examination of inequalities related to race, ethnicity, class, gender, ability and sexuality. We explore their significance at the global, cultural, institutional, organizational and personal levels. As teachers we infuse our classes with these topics on a regular basis.  As advisors we see the way our students struggle with these matters in their everyday lives. As faculty we experience—or see our colleagues experience—the feeling of being undermined or disrespected because of the color of our/their skin. And so it perhaps goes without saying that as members of this campus community we are both saddened and appalled by the enduring way some of our students and colleagues have been treated…not just recently but cumulatively and incessantly over the years. They have been pushed to the margins by the direct actions and tolerating silences of their majority peers, by the narrow-mindedness of certain professors, by the thoughtless comments of staff, by the lethargy of administrative action and by the entrenched power and benign neglect of “DePauw tradition.”  At best, they’re told to politely accept this imposed marginality; at worst, they’re blamed for it. 

We also recognize that the production of knowledge is not immune to racism and ethnocentrism. Students and faculty of color often feel silenced when dominant scholarly paradigms ignore their world-views. So we in the sociology & anthropology department vow to continue to talk about these issues in the context of our courses, to stand by those students and faculty who are reminded every single day of their “otherness” and to recognize the enormous toll this burden has taken and continues to take on them.  

Mona Bhan, Rebecca Bordt, Angela Castaneda, Kelley Hall, Danielle Kane, Lydia Marshall, David Newman, Matthew Oware, Alicia Suarez and Rebecca Upton