Last Tuesday, Nov. 19, Brandi Recital Hall was filled with students, faculty and staff. The attendees were there to listen to a student panel on race in the classroom, presented by the Black Student Union (BSU) and co-sponsored by the Center for Innovative Pedagogy.
The panel featured Micah Smith ’22, Celeste Ramirez Diaz ’22, Grant Hall ’20 and Jacky Neri Arias ’13, associate director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI), answering questions posed by the moderator, Jené Schoenfeld, professor of English, as well as the audience.
The students touched on their own classroom experiences as racial minorities at Kenyon, as well as what they thought could improve those experiences.
Several of the students also spoke about their transition from their diverse home communities to Kenyon’s predominantly white campus, and how that shaped their experience. Schoenfeld raised the question of “the complicated tension between invisibility and hypervisibility” on campus, which the students on the panel empathized with, especially in terms of intersecting identities.
The students emphasized the importance of having faculty of color to turn to, as well as the need for white faculty to do more for students of color in the classroom. While the event was mainly aimed towards faculty, most of the questions were asked by students in the audience. Many students who attended walked away feeling like the faculty had not participated enough. Others focused more on what they could take from this presentation and bring to the classroom.
“I’ve been trying to think lately how I, as a white-passing person, can help support visible students of color in my classes,” Audrey Mueller ’22 said.
“I would like students of color to be able to be students, and not to be treated as educators for other students on issues of diversity.”