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Table of contents :
INTRODUCTION Diversity, Markedness, and the Liberal Arts College
CHAPTER 1 What Is Liberal Arts Education ‘For’?
CHAPTER 2 Marketing and Admissions: Regimenting the Imagery of Markedness
CHAPTER 3 The Administrative Structures of Student Life
CHAPTER 4 Turning Markedness into Culture
CHAPTER 5 Students Just Wanna Have Fun
CHAPTER 6 Where Is the Faculty in All This?
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Neoliberalizing Diversity in Liberal Arts College Life

Higher Education in Critical Perspective: Practices and Policies Series editors: Susan Wright, Aarhus University Penny Welch, Wolverhampton University Students and academics, along with university managements, national governments, and international organizations are contesting the purpose and practice of “higher education” around the globe. For many the future is purported to lie in a “global knowledge economy” in which universities and other higher education institutions are suppliers of the two crucial raw materials: knowledge and graduates. This series critically reflects on this new constellation and on how academics and students find ways to explore new forms of learning and teaching, participate creatively in the organization of their own institutions, and engage with policy arguments about the national and international purpose of universities. Volume 6 Neoliberalizing Diversity in Liberal Arts College Life Bonnie Urciuoli Volume 5 Opening Up the University: Teaching and Learning with Refugees Edited by Céline Cantat, Ian M. Cook, and Prem Kumar Rajaram Volume 4 The Experience of Neoliberal Education Edited by Bonnie Urciuoli

Volume 3 Death of the Public University? Uncertain Futures for Higher Education in the Knowledge Economy Edited by Susan Wright and Cris Shore Volume 2 Creating a New Public University and Reviving Democracy: Action Research in Higher Education Morten Levin and Davydd J. Greenwood Volume 1 Learning under Neoliberalism: Ethnographies of Governance in Higher Education Edited by Susan Brin Hyatt, Boone W. Shear, and Susan Wright

Neoliberalizing Diversity in Liberal Arts College Life rrr

Bonnie Urciuoli

berghahn NEW YORK • OXFORD

First published in 2022 by Berghahn Books © 2022 Bonnie Urciuoli

All rights reserved. Except for the quotation of short passages for the purposes of criticism and review, no part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without written permission of the publisher.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Urciuoli, Bonnie, 1949- author. Title: Neoliberalizing diversity in liberal arts college life / Bonnie Urciuoli. Description: 1st Edition. | New York ; Oxford : Berghahn Books, 2022. | Series: Higher education in critical perspective: Practices and policies; 6 | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2021040495 (print) | LCCN 2021040496 (ebook) | ISBN 9781800731769 (Hardback) | ISBN 9781800731776 (eBook) Subjects: LCSH: Education, Humanistic--United States--Longitudinal studies. | Neoliberalism. | Discrimination in education--United States. | Minority college students--Recruiting--United States. | Minority college students--United States--Social conditions. | Exploitation--Social aspects--United States. | Exploitation--Economic aspects--United States. Classification: LCC LC1023 .U73 2022 (print) | LCC LC1023 (ebook) | DDC 370.11/2--dc23/eng/20211207 LC record available at LC ebook record available at

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 978-1-80073-176-9 hardback ISBN 978-1-80073-177-6 ebook

To Henry Rutz, friend and mentor

Contents rrr

Prefaceviii Acknowledgmentsix Introduction Diversity, Markedness, and the Liberal Arts College Chapter 1 What Is Liberal Arts Education ‘For’?

1 37

Chapter 2 Marketing and Admissions: Regimenting the Imagery of Markedness72 Chapter 3 The Administrative Structures of Student Life


Chapter 4 Turning Markedness into Culture


Chapter 5 Students Just Wanna Have Fun


Chapter 6 Where Is the Faculty in All This?


Conclusion265 References275 Index287

Preface rrr

Since it is obvious throughout this book that I spent my career at the College, and could not otherwise have written this book, I am well aware that giving it a pseudonym does not hide its identity all that effectively. Plenty of studies of higher education identify the institutions where they are situated. I have a couple of reasons for not doing so. First, when I started the study and first submitted my proposal to the Institutional Review Board, I said I would not identify it by name. Second, and perhaps more to the point, the College is by no means unique. Throughout this book I make very clear that it is as much a type as an individual school. There is very little that I say in this book about the College that could not be said about its peer schools—the whole point of marketing is for each school to present some positive feature absent in otherwise comparable schools. The identities of the people in this book are obscured by the fact that this is a very longitudinal study. The bulk of interviews were done long enough ago that most people I interviewed have long since graduated or moved to other jobs or retired. Their identities would be hard to recover. On the other hand, what they had to say remains relevant, as I found by running it past current students and colleagues in the late 2010s, and asking in effect, “So what do you guys think? What’s changed?” The answer was, very little. The upshot is that what interviewees had to say remains valid, even though their identities remain confidential.

Acknowledgments rrr

I am not sure if I have succeeded in keeping track of everyone whose input has guided me through this long project. So, anyone I have missed, please forgive me. My thanks to the College officers with whom I shared publications from this project for taking it as the analysis it was meant to be, and thanks to the College for its sabbatical financial support during the writing process. Berghahn has been a joy to work with. My thanks to Sue Wright and Penny Welch for including me in their series, and to Amanda Horn for keeping the process flowing so smoothly. Thank you to Asif Agha, Kori Allan, Lindsey Bell, Don Brenneis, Donald Carter, Dan Chambliss, Phyllis Pease Chock, Jim Collins, Virginia Domínguez, Allison Dorsey Ward, Bob Foster, Doug Glick, Maurice Isserman, Shoshana Keller, Liz Lee, Paul Manning, Heather Merrill, Rick Parmentier, Alex Poseznick, Jonathan Rosa, Wesley Shumar, Polly Strong, Shauna Sweet, Jackie Urla, Sue Wright, and Chris Vasantkumar for conversations and feedback over many years that helped me frame and connect the ideas in this work. I owe special gratitude to Jean D’Costa, Ilana Gershon, Kathy Hall, Richard Handler, Chaise LaDousa, Susan Mason, and Mitchell Stevens for always being there at critical points as I worked out how to think all this through. The people to whom I owe the most on this project are sadly gone and terribly missed: Henry Rutz and Michael Silverstein, without whose intellectual mentorship none of this would have happened. My sincerest thanks to the hundred-plus people who provided the interviews for this project. And so many thanks to the students with whom I worked at the College. This project started with a few of you in 1993 and just grew for over a quarter century. I thank not only those who took part in interviews and focus groups but the students in all the classes in which we hashed out this material. You guys were amazing, and you made my teaching career a joy.


Diversity, Markedness, and the Liberal Arts College rrr

I started teaching at the College in 1988, right after wrapping up research on race, class, and language among Puerto Rican families in New York City. Within my first few years of teaching, I met students who might easily have been from families I knew in New York, and I often wondered what they made of this largely white rural liberal arts college a few hundred miles from their home. Sometimes they would relay comments made about them by professors and classmates. For example, a few of my bilingual advisees described a professor who told them in their first year that their writing problems were caused by Spanish ‘interference’ and they should therefore not take any more Spanish courses (although I thought the real issue was their having had much less extensive practice or feedback in their high school writing than more privileged students had had). Other students described being judged for what they did or did not say, or for what they wore or looked like, as if they were expected to be walking stereotypes. Students of color said that such incidents happened enough to remind them how white and privileged the school was, as if they were on notice to show that they deserved to be at the College. At about the same time, I started paying attention to College efforts to recruit ‘multicultural’ students. I also heard that some of the same students who had had difficult social and classroom experiences had been tapped to supply faces for publicity material presenting the school as what was called ‘multicultural’ in the 1990s, and ‘diverse’ by the mid-2000s. This publicity material, quickly becoming the stuff of websites, presented carefully curated pictures of diverse communities. This ‘diversity,’ which looked a lot like a marketing device, depended on text and imagery that read as race without pointing to the inequalities or exclusions that shaped non-white, especially black, student experience. Without students of color to provide images or be counted as numbers, this could not be done: the marketing process

2  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity

needs people who look like race while not acknowledging them as racialized. But those whose faces appear in those photographs do experience being racialized, and this book examines that disconnect in its various iterations. Over time, it struck me how much faculty, students, administration, and staff occupied separate, if intersecting, social spaces. Especially striking was how some of the administration faced outward and some inward. Admissions faced outward to future students, and the Office of Advancement outward to past students, trustees, donors, and other schools. The Dean of Students Office faced inward toward students, and the Dean of Faculty Office toward faculty. As the term ‘diversity’ settled into institutional usage, the differences between its inwardand outward-facing use grew evident. Inward-facing offices used it in position titles, handbooks, and policy statements. Some faculty saw it as a cover term for race, class, and gender; some faculty argued it should include religious and political diversity; many faculty commented on its semantic looseness. For students of color, diversity meant race as they had known it throughout their lives—a meaning that, as they were aware, was not what it meant to the school’s outward-facing offices. To Admissions and the Office of Advancement, diversity was the message generated in their marketing publications, illustrating the school’s self-presentation as a ‘diverse community.’ This usage seemed unfixed in meaning: while it largely pointed to race, it could also point to gender, sexuality, class, nationality, and even the states students came from (though rarely ability, and never age). But it worked best when it pointed to images, and the easiest images to point to were labeled as ‘Black’ (capitalized in the college’s style guide) or ‘Asian’ or ‘Latino/a’ (by the mid-2010s, ‘Latinx’). These images work especially well with the neoliberalization of difference that higher education imported from the corporate world. By that I mean that race and other forms of problematic difference are treated not as the outcome of historical, economic, or social dynamics but as the property of individuals, and ideally as a ‘contribution’ to a business or school or other organization; much more on that later in this chapter. The easiest way to show such diversity is by using an image one can point to of someone doing what good organizational or institutional citizens do, despite not looking white. This book is about the tension between neoliberalized diversity— something marketable that sort of looks like race and that students bring to the school—and the realities of racial and other forms of social

Introduction  ♦ 3

inequality that students live with. It is set in a liberal arts college, but the marketing aspects of diversity can be found throughout US higher education, especially in liberal arts undergraduate education, and even more so in elite schools like the College. But why liberal arts in particular? Although American colonial colleges were modeled after Oxford and Cambridge, the idea of a liberal arts undergraduate curriculum, particularly in a four-year liberal arts undergraduate college, is characteristically (though not exclusively) American. Liberal arts colleges are smallish (the student population at the College numbers fewer than 1,900) and most are exclusively undergraduate, though a few offer a master’s degree. They emphasize humanities, sciences, social sciences, and arts, though a few include limited professional or technical education. Ideally, a liberal arts curriculum teaches students to think critically about everything. At the same time, parents and employers have been known to complain that liberal arts trains students for nothing. The whole point to a liberal arts education seems to be the reproduction of class. The highest-end liberal arts colleges and university programs are very elite indeed, and despite their claim to not be vocational, liberal arts education is a primary site for producing neoliberal values and for neoliberalizing diversity.

Diversity on the Website College self-presentation rests on the construction of an institutional product that I call the Good Student, a construction critical to defining a liberal arts college’s market identity, or ‘brand.’ The Good Student—not to be confused with ordinary good students, who are actual people—is no specific student, though it is based on images and narratives of specific students. It is a figure of attractive, productive youth; a marketable student ideal designed to appeal to parents, future employers, and donor organizations. Good Students are key to marketing liberal arts education, which by definition does not train students for a particular line of work. Liberal arts education turns out students who are ‘bundles of potential,’ whereas technical and professional education turns out engineers, computer scientists, managers, accountants, and so on. Successfully marketing liberal arts education means casting that bundle of potential as capable of just about anything. Students thus embody their education as self-managed bundles of skills, demonstrating a flexibility valued by corporate employers and donor organizations. We see Good Students on the websites of every college and university. At present (2020) the College’s home page is a mosaic of images,

4  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity

captions, and bits of stories suggesting a cheerful world in which a mix of Good Students share interests and enthusiasms, including classroom activities, sports, music, volunteer work, and productive forms of play. Further down the page we find a compendium of Twitter-like social media messages and images that cumulatively project a wide range of student and faculty contributions to the College. And although the word ‘diversity’ does not currently appear on that page, the idea of diversity is conveyed by the student faces and names carefully laid out on the home page, some white, some not, but all attractive, productive, and engaged. All are Good Students. Those who read as other than white are Diverse Good Students. Neoliberal diversity is made up of Diverse Good Students. The College, like other liberal arts schools in its comparison group, balances text and visuals to project itself as a community. On the college’s “Just the Facts” page (one click in from the home page) is a list describing the college’s location and founding, the acceptance rate, high school ranking, and testing range for its most recent entering class, details about academics, athletics, and financial aid, and a list of academic and athletic honors achieved by current and past students. One further click in we find the demographic profile for the entering class, including proportions of gender, first generation in college, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, African American, and multiracial (the last four summarized as “students of color”), international, geographic distribution, and again high school graduating class ranking and testing range. The page labeled “Our Diverse Community” (also one click from the home page) is headed by a statement that a diverse student body enhances the quality of interaction throughout all aspects of student life because “different perspectives and life experiences” enhance the quality of social life and the rigor of intellectual life. (More on this statement shortly.) While the college does not currently specify what it considers diverse, in the mid-2010s the diversity statement just referred to concluded by saying that a student at the College could be “grungy, geeky, athletic, gay, black, white, fashionable, artsy, nerdy, preppy, conservative,” all as ways for a student to think of “being yourself.” The older statement and the current language say in effect that all these ways of being diverse are personal, individual qualities. A diverse community is thus an aggregate of distinct individuals. The visuals mix students (and some faculty) who ‘look’ black, Latino/a, or Asian into a white matrix, bringing to life the numbers in the ‘student of color’ demographics. Diversity ‘improves’ so long as

Introduction  ♦ 5

these numbers increase each successive year. Each college and university is marketed in relation to its comparison group of competing peer schools. Diversity numbers higher than those of a peer school can be a marketing plus. But most important, diversity must be seen. Such imagery also inhabits the communities described by the College and its peers in their diversity statements. U.S. News & World Report (USN&WR)1 ranks the College among its top 25 national liberal arts colleges. The College is also a member of NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference),2 and most NESCAC members are also in the USN&WR top 25. As Stevens (2007: 98–99) argues, US universities and colleges demonstrate status by who their athletic teams play;3 the importance of NESCAC membership arises from this fact. The College particularly values its comparison to Williams, Amherst, and Middlebury, all leaders of the USN&WR list, all NESCAC members, and all iconically old, small, and elite New England liberal arts colleges. To that end, their website self-presentations warrant comparison to those of the College. None are exactly alike. Rather they are variations within a set of common themes, identifiable with each other without being ‘cookie-cutter.’ As Tuchman (2009: 49–50) points out, this is an important branding principle for schools positioning themselves within peer groups; I have examined the websites of several other highly ranked colleges, and all follow the same general pattern. Let us start with their diversity statements: The Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity at Williams College dedicates itself to a community where all members can thrive. We work to eliminate harmful bias and discrimination, close opportunity gaps, and advance critical conversations and initiatives that promote inclusion, equity, and social justice on campus and beyond.4 The Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (ODEI) at Amherst College works collaboratively to support and sustain the growth of a just, equitable, vibrant, and intellectually challenging educational environment, and a culture of critical and compassionate campus engagement. Through understanding, mutual consideration, and unconditional respect, we work to ensure that all members of the College community are afforded the opportunity to reach their full potential as active participants in our global society …5 [Elsewhere on the website] Diversity is a natural condition of the modern world. And, not coincidentally, it is a foundational part of an Amherst education. We believe that a great intellectual community should look like the world, and with every incoming student, that community comes to life here.6

6  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity

We [Middlebury] are deeply committed to creating a diverse, welcoming community with full and equal participation for all individuals and groups. We work together daily to foster a respectful and engaged community that embraces all the complexity and individuality each person brings to campus. We are dedicated to learning, growing, and becoming our best selves. Groups of people from a variety of backgrounds and with differing viewpoints are often more resilient and adaptive in solving problems and reaching complex goals than more homogeneous groups. They coalesce into an effective community that benefits from the talents and identities of each individual.7

For years, versions of the following were on the College’s website: The quality of personal interaction that takes place in our classrooms extends to residences, performance halls, playing fields, dining halls, labs and to casual conversations that take place in [the Café]. That’s why we seek a diverse student body. Different perspectives and life experiences expand the breadth and augment the rigor of the intellectual life of our College.

These four statements are fairly non-specific about what constitutes diversity but are clear about the importance of protecting and nurturing membership in the institutional community. In each, members participate as individuals distinguished by specific traits, backgrounds, and viewpoints. Williams adds the importance of protection. Amherst elaborates on that theme, and stresses reaching one’s potential. Middlebury adds to that the importance of diverse backgrounds and viewpoints in problem-solving. The College links different perspectives and life experiences to intellectual rigor. All these themes are suggested in all four formulations; each emphasizes a different angle. In each, the school speaks as ‘we.’ Diverse and diversity are used in reference to or in connection with community, members, growth, intellectual, viewpoint, and perspective. Williams, Amherst and (as of 2020—see below) the College also make reference to equity and inclusion and some notion of social justice, always in relation to the idea of an intellectual community of individuals. This is especially clear in the College’s most recent diversity statement, posted in 2020, which now includes the following language: At the College, we embrace diversity, commit to work  against systemic racism and bigotry, and support a community where all individuals, without exception, feel valued, empowered, and treated fairly. Our mission to prepare students for lives of meaning, purpose,

Introduction  ♦ 7

and active citizenship is inextricably tied to our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Serious intellectual inquiry and informed engagement with our ever-changing world depend on open dialogue among people with differing perspectives and values, and from different backgrounds.

References to community and growth also appear in mission statements and academic goals, making their use on diversity pages coherent with qualities defining the school generally. Here for example is Middlebury’s mission statement: Through a commitment to immersive learning, we prepare students to lead engaged, consequential, and creative lives, contribute to their communities, and address the world’s most challenging problems.8

And here is the College’s mission statement: [The College] prepares students for lives of meaning, purpose, and active citizenship … [the College] emphasizes intellectual growth, flexibility, and collaboration in a residential academic community. [Our] students learn to think independently, embrace difference, write and speak persuasively, and engage issues ethically and creatively. One of America’s first liberal arts colleges, [the College] enables its students to effect positive change in the world.

The mission statements most straightforwardly present the terms in which institutions like these see themselves and their purpose: institutionally guided safe havens that cultivate Good Students, including Diverse Good Students. It is thus unsurprising to find notions of equity and social justice worked to fit such a notion of community-nurturing diversity.

The College as Ethnographic Setting The College has just under 1,900 students and 200 full-time faculty. Like many of its peers, it was founded in a rural setting in the early 1800s as a men’s college, only admitting women in the mid-late 1900s. Like most such schools, it is organized by divisions with distinct functions and principles of organization: the Dean of Faculty Office; the Division of Student Life headed by the Dean of Students Office; the Office of Institutional Advancement (OIA); the Office of Admissions, the Business Office; and Library and Information Technology Services.

8  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity

The head of each of these divisions is a senior staff member who reports directly to the college president. In addition, there is a chief of staff who serves as secretary to the Board of Trustees who make the college’s legal and fiduciary decisions, and who are thus central to any planning of college initiatives and general direction.9 In this book I take into account those divisions whose job it is to present diversity as part of the school’s public image (the offices of Institutional Advancement and of Admissions) and those whose job it is to structure diversity programs and policy, including faculty hiring, within the school (the offices of the dean of students and the dean of faculty). Even in a school as small as the College, these divisions are different enough in their effect on people’s experience of the institution as to challenge the idea of it as a single entity that everyone knows in the same way. As the outward-facing divisions oriented to external stakeholders, the OIA takes care of fund-raising, communication, and marketing (addressing alumni, individual donors and donor organizations, and the general public) while the Admissions Office takes care of applications and admissions (addressing prospective students and their parents). OIA and Admissions rarely address faculty or current students. The internal administration governing faculty and student life—the offices of the dean of faculty and the dean of students—address faculty and students, sometimes in ways focused on procedure or policy, sometimes reminding those addressees to help enhance the college’s reputation and identity. Faculty and students mostly address each other and themselves. With diversity most readily equated with categories of difference that are discrete, readily counted, and easily projected as images, Admissions keeps the numbers for students and the Dean of Faculty Office keeps them for faculty, while the OIA manicures and arranges images of students and faculty. Good Student imagery (as can be seen on any higher education website) depicts students engaged in activities that reflect well on the school or that can be construed as beneficial to the school. Good Students, including Diverse Good Students, are of particular concern to institutional OIAs because they reinforce institutional reputation, highlighting a school’s capacity to turn out productive, value-bringing future workers, the ideal product of liberal arts education. Colleges retain their ranking in their comparison group largely through their reputation metric; reputation rests heavily on perceptions, such as having a diverse community of Good Students. My ethnography of the College started in a small way. Around 1993–95, when I had been teaching there for a few years, I would

Introduction  ♦ 9

sometimes meet students from working-class bilingual neighborhoods like those in New York where I had done fieldwork for my previous project on race, class, and language ideology. While I was writing up that research for Exposing Prejudice, I floated some chapter drafts to some of those students. A few commented “that sounds like my neighborhood” or even “that sounds like my mother.” This led to conversations about their experience of coming to so white a school: what the transition was like, what they made of whiteness at the school among students and faculty. For me, coming from a middle-class ItalianAmerican background from a city around fifty miles from the school, I saw the school’s whiteness in complicated ways: it was white and I was white, but when I was growing up (and the school was still allmale) it felt un-ethnically white, especially in terms of class, which made a big difference then. That history seemed to linger, so what did my students make of it, and for that matter, of me? Many of these students, especially young women, were the core of the Latino/a student club. Many had chosen the College because it gave them the best financial package. In my service on the admissions committee, I heard comments about such students “bringing multiculturalism” (as it was more commonly called then) to the school, which suggested to me a quid pro quo: the school provided an education framed by its symbolic value, and the students provided multicultural content for the school. In doing so, they seemed to be developing a new identity; not just Puerto Rican from Manhattan or Mexican from Chicago but Latino/a in ways specific to a liberal arts college. At about this time, with college websites still in their infancy, I started noticing (as mentioned earlier) nicely produced literature and other media for prospective students on multicultural organizations and festivities, including “Multicultural Weekend.” Clearly, these students were not simply at the College as students, but as part of an imagery production. Around 1997–98, I started paying attention to the U.S. News & World Report college and university ranking system (when it was still published as a magazine), especially the way it displayed the ethnic/ race demographics supplied by schools. By 2002, USN&WR had developed, and still publishes, a campus ethnic diversity index in which institutions are ranked according to the proportion of students representing what USN&WR terms ethnic categories: “non-Hispanic African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, Asian, non-Hispanic white, and multiracial (two or more races).”10 Clearly something called diversity had become important in

10  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity

college marketing—what it consisted of was less clear. At the same time, I noticed a usage shift in what in the 1990s had been the relatively interchangeable terms, diverse and multicultural. By the early 2000s, multiculturalism remained associated with group identity, shared history, and concern with social justice, while diversity became associated with individual contributions to a larger social order. Multicultural/ism, as a cover term for non-white demographic categories, became institutionally restricted to mid-level administrative position titles, offices of student life, and student organizations. Diverse/ity had become the institution’s preferred expression for referring to difference represented by types of people. In 1995, I decided to interview a handful of students, hoping to learn what had happened when they came in with locally inflected identities (e.g., Ecuadoran from New York, Cuban from Florida) and developed a college-based Latino/a identity (Latinx not yet being a term). We talked about where they were from, how they found the school, and what struck them as most ‘white’ about it. But once it was clear how their sense of themselves at the college could not be disentangled from how the college operated, the project grew. I interviewed faculty members and administrators, and paid much more attention to the work of Admissions and the OIA, especially the rapidly developing college website. By the late 2010s, I had spoken to sixty-nine students, in individual interviews or in focus groups. Of these, forty-six identified as students of color (twenty-eight as Latino/a or Latinx depending when the interviews were done, five as Asian, twelve as black, and one as Native American), five as international, four as LGBTQ, and eighteen as straight white US students. The numbers do not quite add up because there is some intersectionality in there. Most of the student interviews were done between the mid-1990s and late 2000s, with a few central issues revisited in focus groups and class discussions in the mid-late 2010s. Interviews with students of color, international students, and students identifying as LGBTQ explored what it meant to experience those modes of identity at the College. Other interviews covered sports, private societies, tour guiding, and residential life. I also interviewed faculty and administrators, some of color and some white: altogether, twenty-five faculty including several department and program chairs, and fifteen administrators including the admissions director and two assistant directors, five student life administrators, a director of the college’s diversity center, a chief diversity officer, two directors of the college’s Opportunity Program, an associate dean of faculty, a dean of students, and an OIA program

Introduction  ♦ 11

administrator. This was supplemented by experience and understanding gleaned from teaching, faculty meetings, workshops, committee service, department chair service, conversations with students and colleagues, and just general routine minutiae. As one can see, this work is an auto-ethnography of the academy, in which what matters is the reflexive capacity to “engage in a critical reflection on one’s relationships with others, as circumscribed by institutional practices and by history, both within and outside of the academy” (Young and Meneley 2005: 7). Academic auto-ethnography is a tricky business, especially if one is trying to keep the name of one’s institution out of the print record, as most studies of colleges and some of universities seek to do.11 This is partly to keep participants’ identities confidential and partly as courtesy to the institution. The anonymity itself also makes the important point that this work is really not about this specific school but about a type of school, and how that type fits into its peer group. So, the reflexivity is not about my personal career at this specific institution but about how my structured experience has allowed me to figure out how this type of institution operates. My analysis starts with an examination of the school’s divisions— its constituent structures—in relation to each other, and the school in relation to its peers, and the market relations and contemporary business ethos in which that comparison group is embedded. In doing so it follows the lead of Gaye Tuchman’s (2009) Wannabe U, an ethnography of a state university’s transformation (in corporate-academic parlance) over some years, through the efforts of its presidents, trustees, and top administrators, from a regional to a nationally ranked research university. The construction of diversity at the College was also part of a transformation process—one focused on student life, similarly motivated by ranking concerns, similarly engineered by the concerted efforts of its president, trustees, and top administrators over some years. Mitchell Stevens’ (2007) Creating a Class, an ethnography of the admissions office in an elite liberal arts school not unlike the College, provides insight into the process of finding students whose on-campus presence works for the school as well as the school working for the student. Elizabeth Lee’s (2016) Class and Campus Life provides insight into the situation of low-income students at an elite liberal arts college, again not unlike the College, and the discrepancy between administrative views and representations of those students and what students themselves experience.

12  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity

Diversity, Neoliberalism, and Social Markedness This book is based on the premise that the notion of diversity dominating higher education was imported from the corporate world, and that it points to but cannot be equated directly with race or gender or sexual orientation or any other category of human social difference. It is a neoliberalization of social markedness, represented mostly, and most conveniently, for organizations and institutions, as race. Before going any further, let me make clear that this is not true of all notions of diversity; I am very specifically talking about notions of diversity that function as strategies to show organizations and institutions to their best advantage. By social markedness, I mean whether social identities and characteristics belong to the larger social world they inhabit as typical and taken for granted (unmarked), or as specific, exceptional, and not fitting in (marked):12 racial markedness is experienced as not fitting into social regimes where being white is normative; class markedness is experienced as not fitting into social regimes where being middle class is normative; gender markedness is experienced as not fitting into social regimes where being male is normative; sexual orientation markedness is experienced as not fitting into social regimes where being straight is normative; and so on. Complicating all that experience is the fact that social markedness is routinely experienced intersectionally (Crenshaw 1991), as intersecting structures (such as gender, race, and class). Where middle-class whiteness and straight maleness are normative, the more ways one is not that, the more complicated and difficult one’s life can be. In short, social markedness is not an individual property but a condition of the (often intersecting) classifications produced by the social orders within which people live. By neoliberalism, I mean the notion that the governing principle of any organization should be the maximizing of market potential, measuring the value of any social practice or form of knowledge in market terms (see, e.g., Harvey 2005; Rossiter 2003).13 For social actors (rather than for organizations), this plays out as what Gershon (2011, 2017) describes as neoliberal agency: the capacity to imagine ‘running’ oneself as a business, “a bundle of skills, assets, qualities, experiences, and relationships” (2017: 9) that can all be profitably deployed. To think of oneself in this way, one segments and presents everything in this bundle as valuable to a business or organization, not only to oneself—which in some cases turns into a way of being that is heavily associated with diversity. The importance of that way

Introduction  ♦ 13

of being for students is unevenly distributed around the school: it is little evident in day-to-day social or classroom life, a little more evident in some aspects of organizational activity, and most evident when students are put on view by Admissions and the OIA, or asked to represent the College in some public venue. Throughout this book, we see unresolved tensions between diversity imagined in terms of neoliberal agency, as something one ‘brings’ to the institution, and the realities of social markedness, of being racially or class or gender or sexually other, lived by the students who ‘bring diversity.’ Diversity in higher education marketing, and in the corporate world whence it came, is a neoliberalization of markedness, especially (but not only) race, given value through what the marked have to offer the institution, both as students and as future workers. All this depends on social markedness being crafted to fit existing institutional interests. This is an ethnography of neoliberalism in Greenhouse’s sense of “experience-based inquiry into the interpretive, institutional and relational makings of the present” (2010: 2). As she points out, the importance of ethnographic examinations of neoliberalism lies in the fact that neoliberalism intertwines with various places in the social order so specifically that it cannot be fully understood as a single abstract concept. In their discussion of the existence of multiple neoliberalisms, including academic, Shear and Hyatt stress “neoliberalism as a relatively open signifier that can help us think about governance and social reproduction across scale and space” (2015: 7). We see this in the workings of neoliberalism in contemporary higher education, especially in audit and accountability that, as explained by Shore and Wright, “embody a new rationality and morality, and are designed to engender among academic staff new norms of conduct and professional behavior. In short, they are agents for the creation of new kinds of subjectivity: self-managing individuals who render themselves auditable” (2000: 57).14 Audit particularly governs the lives of faculty in universities directly answerable to the state, as in Britain, continental Europe, New Zealand and elsewhere addressed in the original audit culture literature, and in US public universities, despite so little of the latter’s support actually being public (see studies in Wright and Shore 2017 on the current fragility of public universities). In private institutions and especially in elite liberal arts colleges, neoliberalism plays out somewhat differently in terms of the stakeholders and the stakes. As private colleges, their stakeholders include boards of trustees heavily

14  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity

invested in their market position in comparison groups of other elite schools. The stakes then are marketability and accounting, which take the form of college ranking. While faculty activities are far less tightly held to account, the market ethos governing such schools assigns value to faculty and student activity to the degree that they provide marketable elements, almost like pieces of a mosaic, that enhance college and university reputations and in turn their place in the rankings, in which reputation plays a substantial role. This is where diversity fits into the picture—literally, into the images projected by these schools. The neoliberal qualities of diversity explored in this book are not unique to the United States. In her salutary critique of ‘doing’ institutional diversity, Ahmed (2012) describes the work and frustration experienced by diversity administrators at universities in Britain and Australia. Their academic systems are directly subject to a government-mandated audit that drives their diversity initiatives, while the influence of market relations is more directly visible in the United States. But in both we see the consequences of a wobbly concept with implications different for the institution than for those charged with doing diversity work. Ahmed describes the term diversity itself as deployed in institutional speech acts in which its referent is unclear, in large part because its primary functions are the maintenance of the institutional status quo or the indication of added value or the promotion of a positive image (ibid.: 54–72). Thus, to do their job, diversity workers must use a referent whose denotation is never clarified: “Diversity is regularly referred to as a ‘good’ word precisely because it can be used in diverse ways, or even because it does not have a referent” (ibid.: 79–80). Mohanty (2003), drawing from her experience in two US liberal arts colleges, notes the commodification of race and gender in the US academy in the business of prejudice reduction workshops and diversity consultants. Pointing to the neoliberal element inherent in this commodification, she says: “If complex structural experiences of domination and resistance can be ideologically reformulated as individual behaviors and attitudes, they can be managed while carrying on business as usual” (Mohanty 2003: 210).

Race/Ethnicity, Multiculturalism/Diversity, and Neoliberal Diversity So, to pick up Mohanty’s question, how do “complex structural experiences of domination and resistance” get reformulated as “individual

Introduction  ♦ 15

behaviors and attitudes”? Or to put it another way, how does neoliberal diversity get formulated so that it suggests that one’s race and ethnicity operate parallel to one’s gender, sexuality, international status, and what state one comes from? The answer to that lies in the work of 1990s diversity trainers who set up this parallel as a strategy for presenting the corporate world with a model of ‘diversity’ disconnected from history, structure, inequality, or group identity; but however much diversity trainers recast their notion of diversity to point to multiple aspects of person, it remains grounded in notions of race/ ethnicity. What the model did was to start from a notion of ‘the individual’ (i.e., individual worker) and set up race/ethnicity as the paradigm, equal in weight, for other aspects of that individual. This model of neoliberal diversity—diversity as useful personal attributes—works well for diversity trainers, the corporate world, and higher education promotional representation, though less well for actual people. In this section, I trace the development of neoliberal diversity from previous notions of diversity/multiculturalism, which in turn reclassified earlier notions of race.15 All these are about markedness and belonging. To review briefly, unmarkedness is the condition of belonging to a larger category as typical or unproblematic, whereas markedness is the condition of being atypical or problematic, of being classified in ways that from the perspective of the larger category compromises belonging. In terms of social markedness, this is about belonging or not to a social formation: a nation or society or some form of organization. And by belonging, I mean how people’s capacity to participate is allowed or constrained. In social classifications, the terms of markedness are spelled out in discourse, especially in writing, by those in a position to do so. In the ‘figure–ground’ relation of social marking, the unmarked control the work of marking, identifying the socially marked with the figure while leaving themselves taken for granted as the ground. The unmarked cast the shape of the marked figures and manipulate representations of it with respect to that ground into stereotypes of individuals or groups. The unmarked thus point to (index) the conditions that produce them, radiating out from where us is normal.16 The unmarked, in the us position of privilege, generally perceive the more marked (them) as separate, distinct, and problematic, perceptions that the marked too often internalize (e.g., as internalized racism). The unmarked, and too often the marked, also tend to assume that the marked ought to fit into the social spaces allotted them by the unmarked. They also operate within what Williams (1977: 133) terms

16  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity

“structures of feeling”: the shared system of meanings, values, and interpretations experienced and felt among fellow social actors.17 Let us start with race, which for centuries has set the terms for national belonging in the United States. Despite rhetoric equating race with skin color, what racism does is point to physical and other features of difference as signs of ancestry that make belonging compromised or impossible. The specifics of racialization are not fixed: Mullings points out the “fluidity, mutability and historical contingency of racism—its differences, its transformations, and its contestations” (2005: 674). This fluidity reflects, as Dick and Wirtz (2011: E3–4) put it, the fact that racialization is not about “fixed categories of people and things, but processes by which people become marked as exemplars of racial imaginaries.” Insofar as race is a social fact, it is real, but its reality depends on its continual construction through social action, especially discourse, in opposition to whiteness. The white/non-white polarity is sustained by structural mechanisms growing from histories of appropriated labor, land, and resources, interpreted as a linkage of descent, geographical origin, and what are assumed to be natural characteristics.18 The less control people have had over their labor, land, and resources, the more they have been subject to racialization (see Wolf 1982; Omi and Winant 1986). Above all, whiteness has been maintained in polar opposition to people of African slave descent: the structural limits faced by African Americans show how powerfully racialized they remain (Baugh 2006). The actual work of wrapping people in these imaginaries has been done through laws, institutional documents, and other public language. Since (at least) the eighteenth century, racializing discourses have been abundantly produced by those claiming the authority of science, religion, and law to describe, explain, and judge people’s aspect, qualities, and actions as natural manifestations of where they are from and from whom they descend (Horsman 1981). Throughout this history, whiteness became clarified as the condition of ‘natural’ and unconditional national belonging, and of unmarked ancestry; hence the stress on the ‘purity’ of English and North European ancestry. Racializing discourses spelled out non-purity, often as subor non-human qualities (dirty, grasping, criminal, greasy, ape-like, stupid, lazy, aggressive, dangerous), first targeting people of African descent and native Americans, then Mexicans, and later in the century the labor migrations from East Asia and Southern and Eastern Europe, all seen as unworthy of belonging to the United States. They flourished in the early twentieth century (in the works of Madison Grant, among others), and they remain all too present.

Introduction  ♦ 17

The whiteness that eventually accrued to descendants of South and East European labor migrants came in part from the efforts of those descendants to unmark themselves, but their capacity to do so depended on the ways in which specific manifestations and meanings of whiteness have been in flux throughout US history, unevenly distributed, actively produced, and not all equal (Jacobson 1998). Meanings of whiteness are particularly uneven across class (Hartigan 1999). Manifestations of whiteness emerged from strategic labor policies playing off workers of European, British, and Irish ancestry against those of African slave ancestry (Allen 1994; Ignatiev 1995). The provisional whiteness achieved by Irish, Jewish, Italian, and many other immigrants, remained subject to challenge by those who counted themselves ‘really’ white and who guarded that whiteness by restricting membership in, for example, country clubs and private schools. Still, the marked (sometimes with the help of the unmarked) found opportunities to generate ethnicizing discourses that signified provisional belonging. Ethnicizing discourses mitigate markedness at least in part by stressing what people of marked ancestry have done to justify belonging. Such discourses play up class aspirations, democratic participation, personal and family effort, sacrifice, and contribution, all of which demonstrate the desire and effort to do what Americans value. Such discourses work best when done in public, such as literature, performances, parades, and statues of heroes: Italian Columbus discovering America; Polish General Pulaski leading Revolutionary War troops. While ethnicizing discourses rarely obliterate all residue of racialization, they mitigate it by saying, in effect, these people have communities and values. Their food, music, traditions, and language (performed only when appropriate) are signs of their heritage, and never impede individual achievement. They have helped build the nation. Such ethnicization, starting unevenly in the late 1800s, peaked after World War II. ‘Ethnic groups’ now seen as white became so as their class and occupational situations shifted enough to allow them to be seen in unmarked ways. The post-World War II growth of the US middle class, helped by benefits from the 1944 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (“G.I. Bill”), made an enormous difference, facilitating higher education, small business start-ups, and home ownership.19 The largely white, male, primary-sector workforce of this era experienced small business and corporate sector mobility as ethnic-hyphenated Americans became middle class. Such ethnicizing discourses, focused on nation building, still take place, but the orientation toward whiteness in their earlier iterations

18  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity

has shifted toward a more general unmarkedness.20 Ethnicizing discourses have also come to coexist with a newer development, diversity discourses, which grew partly from the neoliberalizing of the corporate world and partly from the new set of demographic terms developed in the 1970s by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to track hiring equity as required by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act. These were also called ‘affirmative action terms.’ Whereas the ethnic terminology of the earlier twentieth century was primarily oriented to national origin, the affirmative action categories (Black/ African-American, Latino/Hispanic, Asian, Native American) were based sort of on race and sort of on sections of the world. (The OMB capitalizes the B in Black and the W in White, so I follow OMB usage in this section.) These categories were primarily used by corporations, higher education, and public and non-profit sectors. They were also, by the 1980s, associated with multiculturalism. According to Newfield and Gordon (1996: 76), the term multiculturalism came into US usage in the 1970s’ “grassroots attempt(s) at community-based racial reconstruction through … the neighborhood public school.” In the 1980s and 1990s it became associated with higher education, especially with efforts to reform institutional racial inequalities. Such activist hopes gained little traction elsewhere, and even in academe multicultural/ism was displaced by what became the standard term for racial difference in the corporate world: diversity. That happened as the terms white, black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaskan Native came into existence as the classifications specific to the category multiculturalism, and then to the general category diversity. These are the categories on the forms that students and faculty have been filling out since then, and they are the source of the demographic information posted by colleges and universities on their ‘fast facts’ pages. As Brenneis (2006) points out, the very choices offered by forms themselves reflect the conditions shaping those forms, and reinforce institutional realities.21 For some time, multicultural and diverse existed in institutional discourses as quasi-synonyms, with apparently the same general relation to their subcategories—apparently, but not quite. While diversity and multiculturalism include the same subcategories, diversity is more fluid, as diversity consultants show us below, making them useful to institutions in ways that multiculturalism is not. The terms White, Black, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander, and American Indian or Alaskan Native were established by the OMB in

Introduction  ♦ 19

1977 and revised in 1997 when Asian or Pacific Islander was split up into Asian and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and Hispanic became Hispanic or Latino. White, black, Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native are all considered racial classifications; Hispanic/Latino is considered an ethnic classification that can be further classified by white or black.22 These terms are the culmination of processes of selecting and naming race/ethnic and gender categories as ‘officially’ recognized minorities between 1965 and 1975. The Equal Employment Opportunity Act, created by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (which prohibits discrimination by race, sex, or religion), required race categories to track hiring practices; hence their designation as “Affirmative Action” categories. The first were ‘Black’ and ‘White’; the other three were worked out as rough parallels to Black, building on (then) less bureaucratized but widely used categories such as Spanish-American, Indian, and Oriental. Skrentny (2002: 103) points out that the establishment of these categories was an almost entirely bureaucratic process, taking place during the Johnson and Nixon administrations, and that the categories were largely used in employment and government contracts. Social activism figured minimally in their establishment, and no one involved in the process seemed to question their parallel to ‘Black,’ nor what it meant to be a ‘minority.’ By the early 1970s, women became included as a (sort of) parallel category for accounting for legal discrimination as well, though as Skrentny points out, women as a labor category was politically trickier than the establishment of race/ethnic minority categories—there was little Congressional support for the legal establishment of gender equality, whereas there was plenty of Nixonian maneuvering for Black and (the then-common term) Hispanic votes. In her discussion of these categories, Yanow outlines the administrative and policy practices through which they came to be treated as scientifically grounded. And despite language (in both these OMB categories and in the US Census) stating that race and ethnicity are separate (e.g., as specified in census instructions to further subdivide Hispanic/Latino into Black and White), Americans do routinely treat race and ethnicity, in use, “as if they mean the same three things: color, culture, and country of origin” (Yanow 2003: x). The categories established in 1977 were put into practice for federal data collection starting in 1980, the first time such categories had been so codified for general use by the state.23 These categories quickly became standardized in hiring and contracting, and in college applications. They were also quickly naturalized as categories of racially marked ‘types’,

20  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity

which may have been the quality that made them so readily transferable from multiculturalism to diversity as identity categories. In 1980s academic circles, faculty and administrators may have interchanged diversity and multiculturalism, but the corporate world was looking for a diversity model that made sense within existing company policies and practices, enhancing profits and keeping the organization operating as usual. By the early 1990s, there was a literature on diversity management strategies that addressed what was considered the ‘problem’ of group-based identity politics associated with affirmative action hiring initiatives. The preferred model became that of diversity made up of specific traits that characterized individual workers, including race and ethnic identity along with other value-added traits that make workers desirable to their organization. Group social history no longer needed to be considered. A diverse workforce became “the mosaic of people who bring a variety of backgrounds, styles, perspectives, values, and beliefs as assets to the groups and organizations with which they interact” (Rasmussen and Roe 1995: 8). Diversity itself became “those important human characteristics that impact individuals’ values, opportunities and perceptions of self and others at work” (Loden 1996: 14). This formulation put the individual-as-worker front and center, making affirmative action classification one among many “human characteristics.” In an update of the model first presented in her 1996 book, Loden proposed primary and secondary dimensions of diversity.24 The primary dimension (or “inner wheel”) includes age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, income, class, spiritual beliefs, physical abilities; the secondary dimension (or “outer wheel”) includes ten categories of experience, personal background, and style, effectively mapping elements of self onto résumé categories (e.g., work and military experience, education, first language, and communication style). So here is race, an old, widespread, intense, enduring construction of markedness and denial of belonging, still doing a lot of damage. And here are a couple of mitigating and provisionally unmarking responses to that construction: ethnicity, peaking many decades ago as a path to whiteness but still operating as a recasting of marked elements as valued contributions to the nation; and the diversity model developed by corporate consultants, recasting marked elements not as a group identity but as one of many individual qualities valued as contributions to one’s organization. Either way, it is up to the marked to unmark themselves.

Introduction  ♦ 21

How Diversity Points to Neoliberal Values in Higher Education Diversity moved into US higher education from the corporate world in the 1990s as the academic world was being reimagined along business lines by its governing boards, a point in academic institutional history thoroughly documented by Shumar (1997) and Tuchman (2009). The rhetoric of diversity goals in the corporate world and higher education are quite similar:25 to approximate more closely the demographics of the general population and to enhance what the organization produces. Both goals presuppose diversity as a property of individuals, and the enhancement of productivity presupposes the diverse subject as a neoliberal agent in Gershon’s sense, as discussed earlier—a move in which, as Davis (2007: 347) points out, “neoliberalism shape-shift[s] racism to limit its power as a legitimate grievance.” It also shape-shifts race into a device by which organizations and institutions present themselves to advantage. One major effect of this shape-shifting is that students from disvalued categories of markedness are recruited to restructure institutional demographics while being interpellated (or ‘hailed’, after Althusser 1971) to rework the social value of diversity as neoliberal values. We see this in the Posse program26 with which the College worked for about twenty years, having initially partnered with it to ‘bring’ diversity to the school (as Admissions personnel routinely put it), primarily by increasing the number of students classified in the non-white OMB categories. Students apply to a college or university through Posse, and admitted students are selected as Posse scholars based on their potential to serve as ‘agents of change’ for that institution. Posse particularly selects for leadership potential and diversity, the latter largely but not exclusively based on non-white OMB categories. Posse sends cohorts of ten students into the first-year class of a partner school, which in turn provides the cohort with tuition scholarships. Posse provides ‘leadership’ training to the cohort for several months preceding matriculation. Once matriculated, the cohort meets regularly and frequently with a faculty mentor to discuss their experience of the school; the Posse Foundation also sets up on-campus retreats to reinforce the leadership message. Posse scholars must unmark themselves by enacting something identifiable by Posse as ‘leadership’ and ‘campus change’, while remaining marked enough to allow schools to point to them as diverse leaders and change agents. Such a burden is tough enough when placed on the shoulders of working adults; when placed on the shoulders of those

22  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity

just becoming adults, serious questions should be raised about the nature of the task. In 2019, the College’s website gave entering class demographics as 27 percent “US students of color” (first used on the website in the mid-2010s; the earlier term was “multicultural”)—4 percent African American, 10 percent Hispanic/Latino, 8 percent Asian American, 5 percent multiracial—and 8 percent “non-US citizen” (international students). These numbers are roughly comparable to those of schools in its immediate comparison group; the more elite and higher ranked the school, the higher the number of “students of color” is likely to be. International students include a substantial proportion of white Anglophone Canadians, along with students from Britain, continental Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, often from well-off families, and often from International Baccalaureate programs. This language is relatively recent. Until a few years ago, those demographics were counted together as “student diversity” (which would have made this class “35 percent diverse”), an incommensurable (unmeasurable by a common standard) accounting system that played down the actual white demographic in the college. The fact that those categories remain grouped together suggests that the classificatory logic has not changed much, but the new labels better match those of the College’s peer schools. Class turns out to be a trickier category to represent but the website does provide a category “first generation to college” that provides some idea, currently 16 percent, a number that began rising when the school went need-blind some years ago. The College website has consistently kept a page (“our diverse community”) that lists the student cultural organizations including the black, Latinx (the current term), and Asian clubs, and the campus center that provides programming on “facets of human difference” including, according to the website, gender, race, culture, religion, class, sexuality, and ability.27 Until this center was established in 2010, student cultural organizations provided most of the diversity programming in the form of invited speakers, performances, celebrations, and other educational or recreational enactments of identity. Students of color and international students, by staffing these organizations, also supply faces and stories for college publications and web pages. All this recasts markedness as culture; most organizational mission statements have at some time mentioned “educating” the “community” or “public” about members’ “culture.” This transformation of markedness into culture takes place both in students’ social lives and in classrooms, becoming part of the tangle of functions that make up higher

Introduction  ♦ 23

education, central to which is the maintenance or transformation of class status. It becomes not only culture as a form of identity, but cultural capital in Bourdieu’s sense. It also becomes central to the neoliberalization of diverse subjectivity. Most people going to college expect to acquire credentials in preparation for employment; they also expect to maintain or upgrade their social status. These may appear commensurate, but such thinking only works if class mobility is assumed to happen through mechanisms operating on individuals: college inculcates students with skills and knowledge that make them valuable to potential employers. This modernist notion of human capital may look like Bourdieu’s (1979) Marxian notion of cultural capital, but it is not. Workers imagined as human capital are assumed to be self-controlling, self-directing individuals made up of skills whose value is a function of their place in the labor market. Bourdieu theorizes cultural capital coexisting with social and symbolic capital (connections and affiliated status), all convertible into economic capital. Their acquisition is necessarily intertwined with class hierarchy. Thinking of workers as human capital takes no account of hierarchic dynamics and so does not recognize social or symbolic capital in that relation. Rather it recognizes hard skills (knowledge and techniques) and soft skills (social practices productive for one’s company: communication, leadership, teamwork, time management). Unlike the hard and soft skills that turn people into human capital, Bourdieuan cultural capital is not defined by how it enhances the worker’s value to the company, though it might do so. Even though cultural capital can be understood as the social knowledge and practices that allow people to move into good jobs (and are skill-like in that sense), its value lies in what it does for the status of those who have it, not for the profits of those for whom they work. How students in a highly ranked undergraduate school acquire cultural capital depends on their social backgrounds and what they must build on. Cultural capital can include classroom learning, but it also includes forms of knowledge and ways of speaking and acting shared with or learned from socially valued connections, or social capital. Social capital includes association with the institution itself, but it also includes classmates, fraternity buddies, and so on. The more social privilege one is born into, the more easily one develops the social connections that lead to other career and social connections. Through these associations, one acquires symbolic capital: the school’s reputation on one’s diploma, the prestige accruing to the ‘right’ connections (family, fraternity, exclusive club). One can practically see social and

24  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity

symbolic capital in the class notes and wedding pictures of college alumni magazines. Any college provides some degree of these forms of capital, but nationally ranked private universities and liberal arts colleges, the loci of concentrated social and symbolic capital, do it especially well. Students selected by such schools as icons of neoliberal diversity are placed in a peculiar position. As far as schools are concerned, students’ passage through the admissions process means they have already met a major unmarking criterion, making them ‘competitive’ as social beings who can now represent what the school stands for and how it defines itself. The fact that they are presented as ‘change agents’ and ‘leaders’—social roles that do not arise from student culture, marked or unmarked—means that they have been selected for the symbolic capital they can give their school. This allows the schools to show themselves to each other and to their trustees and donor organizations as neoliberal incubators. At the same time, these students must navigate day-to-day social lives in their classes and with other students while figuring out unfamiliar norms and rules with no readily available guide. They never know when they are going to encounter attitudes or practices, routinely experienced as microaggressions (often not so micro), that reinforce racialized assumptions. Schools pay nowhere near enough attention to the daily stresses and demands experienced by students whose faces and stories provide them with such benefits. If policies were to be put in place that recognize and effectively address the racializing realities that students face, what race means in such schools might actually be affected. Otherwise, neoliberal diversity practices do little more than idealize a marketable version of institutional life.

Some Basic Semiotics This book builds on some key semiotic concepts which I will set out and explain at this point, indicating where they will arise in the book. Most important (and briefly discussed earlier) is the idea of a construct. Race, ethnicity, diversity, and so on are all constructs—ways of imagining social markedness in terms of physical features, place of origin, ancestry, culture, and so on. But they are not the same as these markers, in the same way that kinship is imagined in terms of, but is not the same as, biology (Schneider 1968: 115) or that accents are imagined in terms of, but are not the same as, phonology (Urciuoli 1996: 124). Kinship and accents are social classifications

Introduction  ♦ 25

based on constructions of types of people. So too are race, ethnicity, and diversity. People generally imagine social categories, including race, ethnicity, and diversity, as clearly opposed, and demarcated by ‘bright lines.’ People also rank their membership as better/worse, higher/lower, right/wrong, and so on. As US social categories, they are thought of as types of person; the person being, in Schneider’s terms, a cultural unit, “culturally defined and distinguished as an entity” (Schneider 1968: 2) that exists in a larger system. For instance, Schneider argues that units called “relatives” operate in a cultural system called “kinship” in which they manifest key values. Such constructs are real precisely because they are interpreted as elements of cultural systems. This brings us to the next important point, how such constructions are created and sustained. They come into being through discourse. People think with them and talk about them. Drawing from Jakobson ([1957] 1971), Silverstein (1976) points out the fundamentally indexical nature of language. Indexical here means (roughly) connected: any and all use of language, in any channel (spoken, written, signed) is linked to social life, and ultimately what people regard as linguistic meaning depends on that capacity: that is why meaning is variable, often hard to pin down, and continually subject to change.28 Discourse can operate in ways that leave interpretations as they are and reinforce existing ways of understanding the world, or it can shift perspectives, bring about new understandings, and fundamentally change how people see the world. In such ways, it can be performative (or as Silverstein has put it, “indexically creative”). What people do with language is always connected to an immediate context and through that to the larger structuring principles (such as class, race, gender) that shape immediate context. Everything people do in discourse— what they say, how, to whom, and why they say it—is linked to what they already recognize and understand among those who share their social world as shaped by those larger structures. Everything that is real to people is real because of that dynamic.29 It is thus important to recognize that there is no such thing as ‘just a construction.’ Whatever is real to people has been conceptualized and discursively shaped, whether naturally occurring physical objects (rocks), artificial objects (houses), inferences from behaviors of physical objects (gravity), abstractions of multiple dynamics and conditions (the economy), social values (justice), and so on and so on.30 All ‘facts,’ however concrete or abstract, are (in Durkheim’s sense) social in that people work out knowledge of them through discourse, which takes place in structured

26  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity

(by class, gender, race, etc.) social relations,31 worked out through interconnected interpretive processes in which reference based on denotation (‘dictionary meaning’) plays a much smaller role than most people think. This continual semiotic engagement (meaning that all interaction, including discourse, is a continual interpretive process) is organized metasemiotically, the ‘meta’ prefix indicating the operation of a set of principles (more often than not implicit) that guides interpretation of specific instances, so that they all fit more or less into a generally coherent way of thinking.32 This brings us to the next point: how does diversity as a social construct come to have different meanings for different people in different contexts. This question could be asked of any term and any concept; in this book it is an especially important point, as it ties into how college marketing works, how internal college administration works, what student life is like, and what goes on in the classroom. What people recognize as real is produced by the register they use. Because all language use is embedded in social relations, people adjust the forms they use and the interpretation of those forms to what they are doing. Registers are characterized by co-occurring forms, usages, and functions (interpretations linked to or indexing context), and while the overall pattern of these is relatively stable, forms and functions can shift or drop from use, and new forms can appear, taking on functions compatible with those already existing. The potential for change exists in each act of discourse.33 Registers across the college differ in part because different college offices have different jobs, but even more so because people in them have different ways of seeing themselves and what they are doing in relation to the college and each other. The contrast between different offices and faculty and students is especially vivid. Here the concept of chronotope is of some use. How people experience language registers is grounded in the times and places of that experience, and the relationships in which that experience takes place. Drawing from Bakhtin’s (1981) notion of literary chronotope, the time–space setting shared by characters that gives meaningful coherence to their actions (and thus the plot), one can also understand how people’s experience of discourse in particular relations grounded in shared times and places (i.e., register) can become meaningful to them, can take on a “chronotopic character” (Silverstein 2005: 6), “a semiotic representation of time and place peopled by certain social types” (Agha 2007b: 321). The ‘figured world’ of Holland et al. (1998) is fundamentally chronotopic. In such worlds, people come to see

Introduction  ♦ 27

themselves grounded in their own story. There are the stories told by the OIA in their marketing narratives, as we see in Chapter 2. There are discourses by diversity administrators about faculty, students, and themselves as we see in Chapter 3. There are those told by socially marked students, especially students of color, as we see in Chapters 4 and 5. And there are those told by faculty about themselves and their students, as we see in Chapter 6. For example, the OIA and Admissions use diversity mostly in text, creating a glowing picture of the college’s promise. This promise consists of pictures and stories about (mostly) students of color, embodiments of Diverse Good Students, investing markedness with neoliberal value, especially displayed as liberal arts soft skills (more on that in Chapter 1) that show the College to best advantage. This is a marketing story but it is also meant to be taken as real, as how the college should really be seen. By contrast, the diversity administrators we hear from in Chapter 3 use diversity in ways that locate where the institution falls short; and in chapters 4 and 5, as students talk about their college life, their stories about diversity point to the gap between their experiences and unkept institutional promises. In Chapter 6, we see diversity as part of an expert discourse, where outside experts hired by the Dean of Faculty Office take authority over what it is and how to get it, even though many faculty themselves specialize in historical or literary or social or biological aspects of diversity. In each instance, we see diversity not only in different registers but as an element of very different stories. Throughout the book, we see the strategic use of semantically variable terms (like diversity) in ways that I call ‘strategically deployable shifters’ (Urciuoli 2003, 2008). Such terms may appear referential (conveying information), but their semantic indeterminacy allows them to align the user with a particular set of interests. This is the primary function of the use of ‘buzz words’ in corporate and corporate-linked discourses. Semantic content takes second place to casting the organization, and those speaking for it, in an optimal light. Such usages are shifters insofar as their referential value depends on other elements of context relative to the speaker (or writer),34 and they are strategic because their semantic indeterminacy allows users to align them with other terms of interest to addressees (making it an index of addressivity; see below). Terms like skills, culture, excellence, leadership, communication, and diversity are routinely strung together in neoliberal discourse, as is seen in the following language from Loden’s website, which aligns the values suggested by the italicized words with the status of “we” professionals: “As a firm known for innovation

28  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity

in diversity and leadership theory as well as training design, we attract highly skilled and experienced professionals.”35 Loden’s model of the diverse individual also exemplifies another semiotic principle at work here, that of metaculture (Urban 2001), the metasemiotic frames that accelerate the movement of cultural formations through social worlds. Urban particularly notes the central place of the idea of innovation in contemporary metaculture, and the instrumentality of metacultural texts (such as reviews) in that movement. Texts by diversity innovators, as Loden, Rasmussen and Roe, and others in the 1990s portrayed themselves, play just this role, moving this ‘innovative’ notion of diversity through the corporate world into the academic world through the services of diversity trainers who bring these texts with them when they are hired as consultants in colleges and universities. We meet such specialists in Chapter 6. Such texts, heavily invested with the gloss of neoliberal modernity, establish links within and across institutions. Their very existence as published texts, apparently separate from the social processes producing them (Bauman and Briggs 1990; Silverstein and Urban 1996), is register-specific, enhancing their capacity to authorize scaling projects (Carr and Lempert 2016: 8) that produce a “view from nowhere” (Irvine and Gal 2000). But as Irvine (2016) and Gal (2016) remind us, such universalizing ‘big picture’ scales certainly do incorporate a perspective. Whoever authorizes the scale also determines what the type is and what serve as tokens of the type. The scaling project of concern here is the universal grid of the ‘official’ OMB categories entextualized around 1970. In this ‘big picture’ that swamps other perspectives, students and faculty of color serve the institution as tokens of the type diversity, countable units for comparing institutions; their actual experience is irrelevant: an instance of predatory scaling (Irvine 2016). Given the muscle behind such corporatized notions of diversity, they get much less institutional traction than one might expect. This is because of who those corporatized discourses are directed to—that is to say, their addressivity (Bakhtin 1986: 95), the qualities of discourse that point to their addressees. Most corporatized discourses are aimed outside the institution: the OIA uses it to address past students and possible donors, while Admissions uses it to address future students and their parents—all addressees whose buy-in is really important. There are a few such addressivity markers in discourse directed internally (from the dean of students and dean of faculty offices), but they are nowhere near as strategically deployed, nor do they seek the same kind of buy-in. Students have other concerns, though they will

Introduction  ♦ 29

become major addressees when they graduate. As to faculty, they tend to ignore it unless, as we see in Chapter 6, they are a captive audience. Finally, threaded throughout the book (and central to the nature and function of liberal arts institutions) are Bourdieu’s (1979, 1991) notions of habitus and of cultural, social, and symbolic capital. Habitus is the complex of taken-for-granted understandings that organize how people interpret, respond, and otherwise organize their social (and therefore discursive) interactions; it is structured by the conditions, especially class and race, in which people are socialized. It shapes the development of registers and the chronotopic basis of social relations. It corresponds to the idea of primary socialization shaping what Berger and Luckmann (1966) posit as the basis for social reality. These are all ways (rooted in Weber and Durkheim) in which various theorists have tried to get at what shapes people’s social life. Bourdieu’s forms of capital (rooted in Marx) serve to enhance and reinforce access to economic advantage: cultural capital as forms of knowledge accruing from structural (especially class) advantage; social capital as forms of advantageous social relations (such as well-placed friends and associates); and symbolic capital as the gloss or prestige accruing to such relations, and to the institutions they attend and inhabit. Whatever else liberal arts college life is about, it involves either extending a class/ race-advantaged habitus of childhood and adolescence into college, or it involves moving from a less advantaged habitus into a world of class and race privilege, and if possible, benefiting from the cultural, social, and symbolic capital that can come with such a move. If it’s the latter, it ain’t easy.

Where This Book Is Going, Chapter by Chapter Chapter 1 (“What is liberal arts education ‘for’?”) examines the nature of US liberal arts education, anchored historically in white public space, and its role in shaping neoliberal diversity. Liberal arts education in the United States grew out of the precolonial colleges, grounded in the Enlightenment philosophy of education, whose broad mission was to educate for character rather than to train for a specific career or profession. But the history of higher education confounds that simple opposition. Despite at least two centuries of academic ideologies about molding young minds, educational content operates in tandem with student social life, fraternities, and sports that bond students and give alumni happy memories. That social life is also at least as much a source of social and symbolic capital as are academics. From the

30  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity

beginnings of corporate expansion right after the Civil War, degrees from elite colleges gave young men an edge that had little to do with whether their college had a conservative core curriculum or a wide range of electives. That through-line from ‘good’ colleges and universities to the corporate world became, in the 1990s and 2000s, reinscribed in neoliberal terms in which academic specifics give way to the ‘soft skills’ that make a graduate a desirable corporate hire. Despite the heated arguments of the 1980s about ‘multicultural curricula’ versus ‘Western civilization,’ the 1990s also saw what had been about the politics of difference turned into neoliberal diversity, a sort of soft skill that one could acquire by going to a college with lots of it. The very notion of diversity thus entered the (neo)liberal arts repertoire. Chapter 2 (“Marketing and Admissions: Regimenting the imagery of markedness”) begins the ethnographic examination of the College with the work of the Office of Institutional Advancement (OIA) and of Admissions. The OIA is responsible for the school’s external image, generating the signs of the college’s identity, or brand, using the college website to project an idealized vision of student life for prospective students, parents, and donor organizations. The website is the home of the Good Student—healthy, attractive, productive—and its subset, the Diverse Good Student, differing only in appearance and personal background. Reality intrudes once students arrive at the school, and continues to intrude when they become alumni. The happiest (and most generous) alumni tend to be the whitest and most successful; alumni of color have an understandable ambivalence toward the school, which pays little attention to the sources of that ambivalence. Chapter 3 (“The administrative structures of student life”) takes up the work of the Dean of Students Office, the inward-facing office that structures student life and sociality. Many of its policies and practices are about getting students to live and act as community members, which (not surprisingly) is easier to construct and project than to achieve. We see how administrators try to set up a safe and productive life for students with marked social identities and we see some of the issues students and administrators encounter. We also see how socially marked students do their bit for the school through cultural organizations, and the consequences of that work for their college experience. The more marked students are, the more they are interpellated to act as exemplary college citizens, a role that requires cultural capital that is more likely to be in short supply for students of color than for most white students, especially when class privilege plays a role.

Introduction  ♦ 31

Chapter 4 (“Turning markedness into culture”) examines college life among students classifying themselves as Latino/a, black, Asian, LGBTQ, or international—their friendships and alliances, their work in student organizations, and their experience in private societies and athletics, as they shape and reshape their sense of who they are and what those demographic labels can mean as identities. What does it mean to shift from locally inflected identities (Cuban from Miami, Chinese from Boston, Haitian from Brooklyn) to broader categories? How does participation in the cultural organizations, and the friendships formed there, supply content for these identities? How does it ‘preserve culture’? What kind of work does it take just to live as socially marked students? What does the institution expect from them, and where does the institution come up short? Why should it be the mission of the ‘cultural’ (black, Latino, Asian, LGBTQ, and international) student organizations to ‘educate the community’, and what does that mean? Why is it their job to show the unmarked how markedness works? Chapter 5 (“Students just wanna have fun”) shows what ‘student fun’ is for most unmarked students, and how they are able to challenge boundaries in ways not represented in college marketing. Private societies (fraternities and sororities), technically independent of the college, occupy anomalous but important social space. Fraternities particularly generate a great deal of social and symbolic capital: with chapters across schools, they unite past and present students in an identity affiliated with but not controlled by any one school. But their activities can also embarrass the school, and the offices of Student Life and Residential Life work hard to patrol them. Fraternities play a greater role than ‘official’ student organizations in the school’s social life: hosting parties with alcohol is widely considered by members and non-members to be their main function. They also generate a great deal of school feeling among alumni, whose fond memories can move them to contribute generously, as the OIA is aware. Such ‘fun’ may take the form of transgressive play, as at ‘theme’ parties that play on ethnic/race, gender, and class stereotypes, and fitting into or challenging this world of unmarked sociality can be tricky for socially marked students. Chapter 6 (“Where is the faculty in all this?”) examines what faculty think diversity is, and how they address issues of race, class, and gender in their courses and beyond the classroom. We see how faculty notions of diversity carry little weight with the Dean of Faculty Office in the recruitment of faculty of color; rather such searches are structured and cast, based on expert advice, in ways that use neoliberal

32  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity

logic to improve numbers. From the perspective of the president and trustees, faculty diversity numbers are part of the College’s reputation, seen in comparison with peer school numbers. What does not command administrative attention is what college life is like for faculty of color, especially young women. Compounding that is the need felt by faculty of color to serve as role models for their students. In the end, neoliberal diversity cannot be equated with the different kinds of social markedness that it supposedly represents. Rather, it is part of a larger institutional and organizational pattern, found far beyond the confines of academe, of pointing to a performance of something the institution calls diversity while holding on, as much as possible, to elements that allow for (as Mohanty put it earlier) business as usual, maintaining most of the privilege of white public space without that space actually ‘looking white.’ In doing so, it also exemplifies what Leong (2021) calls identity capitalism, whereby those with privileged identities benefit from association with those with non-privileged identity, in ways that reinforce the former’s position.

Notes   1., accessed 3 November 2020.   2. NESCAC consists of eleven private colleges and small universities whose men’s and women’s athletic teams regularly play each other. index.aspx, accessed 3 November 2020.   3. See also Thelin 2004 for a discussion of the emergence of intercollegiate sports conferences.   4., accessed 3 November 2020.   5., accessed 3 November 2020.   6., accessed 3 November 2020.   7., accessed 24 August 2021.   8., accessed 3 November 2020.   9. The board consists of alumni trustees elected for a non-renewable four-year term, charter trustees elected for a renewable six-year term, and life trustees elected from among charter trustees who have served at least seven years. The voting trustees are alumni and charter. The trustees’ relation to the school is mediated by the OIA but they have considerable authority over the school’s direction. 10., accessed 5 November 2020.

Introduction  ♦ 33 11. Ethnographic work on named institutions is more likely to be of universities, such as the decade-long project of student ethnography overseen by Nancy Abelmann and Bill Kelleher at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (Hunter and Abelmann 2013). 12. I adapt my notion of social markedness from concepts of semiotic and linguistic markedness. Drawing on Trubetzkoy’s work on phonological oppositions, Roman Jakobson examined sound systems and grammatical systems as oppositions of marked and unmarked elements (see, e.g., Jakobson [1957]1971). The unmarked member of the opposition is the basic, more general member of the category, while the marked member has or lacks some quality that makes it more specific compared to the unmarked. A non-linguistic example of a markedness opposition might be among birds. As birds, sparrows or eagles are ‘unmarked’ in that they fly, which is considered a typical bird characteristic, whereas penguins are ‘marked’ as birds as they do not fly. In general, social terms, the unmarked is what people regard as typical, taken for granted, and the marked stands out as atypical in some key way. Even with birds this is a cultural construction in that any given bird might be perceived by observers as having some non-typical quality, depending on what counts as typical. (Ellen and Reason 1979 provide an excellent discussion on social constructions of classification.) 13. Rossiter (2003: 109) explains neoliberalism as an imaginary, characterized by a “managerialist demand for the products of intellectual labour—knowledge coded as intellectual property, which makes possible the commodity object— to be accountable to the logic of exchange-value and market mechanisms. The neoliberal imaginary seeks to subject all socio-cultural practices to the laws of the market, which are one manifestation, albeit limited, of the logic of capital.” 14. See also Shore and Wright 2015. 15. See Urciuoli 1996 on racialization and ethnicization; and Urciuoli 2020 on that and neoliberal diversity. 16. That is, they are deictic, indicating time, space, or personal position relative to the speaker at the moment of speaking. Deixis is grammatically encoded in time and space adverbs such as here/there and then/now, verb tenses, and personal pronouns. (See Benveniste 1971: 217–30; Jakobson [1957] 1971 analyzed them as shifters.) 17. This can also be understood in terms of what Silverstein (2003b: 534) terms ethnolinguistic recognition, in which relations of markedness move downward from a privileged, unmarked ‘top,’ the boundaries of which are the cumulative outcome of myriad “mutually reinforcing” discursive acts in which social actors “create and sustain an ‘us’ different from either ‘you’ or ‘them.’” That topmost position is the position of least markedness (i.e., whiteness), and the locus of maximum prestige and power. 18. In Harrison’s (1995) review of anthropological approaches to race, she notes how long it took mainstream anthropology to follow the lead of African American social scientists Du Bois and St. Clair Drake in theorizing race as historically emergent from social, economic, and political conditions; treating the production of whiteness and non-whiteness as mutually constitutive began

34  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity engaging social scientists in the 1980s. Harrison, like Mullings, notes historical shifts of specific racializations within a perduring white/non-white polarity. Analyses by, among others, Omi and Winant (1986), Domínguez (1986), Roediger (1991), Frankenberg (1993), Allen (1994), Ignatiev (1995), Haney Lopez (1996), Brodkin (1998), Jacobson (1998), Lipsitz (1998), Bonilla-Silva (2003), Bush (2004), and Feagin (2009) lay out the range of social and historical contingencies through which varying modes of whiteness and non-whiteness are mutually constituted, and the processes through which whiteness operates as a ‘ground’ against which ‘figures’ of non-whiteness take on specific and shifting historical meaning. 19. Brodkin (1998) provides a wonderful account of three generations of her Jewish family’s journey to ‘whiteness.’ 20. There is a persistent “possessive investment in whiteness” (Lipsitz 1998) at work here, namely the reluctance of many whites, including white ethnics, to see more recent immigrants in anything other than racialized terms. So ethnicized unmarkedness remains elusive for many immigrant people in the United States, and unsettling eruptions of racialization are particularly aimed at the public use of Spanish, Arabic, or other languages associated with ‘non-white’ speakers. As Zentella (1996) and Santa Ana (2002) have shown, US media and politicians have a history of casting Latinos and their language as a dangerous, undifferentiated, disordered mass. Rosa and Flores (2017) explain this as raciolinguistic, the naturalized co-construction of linguistic and racial typifications linked to legacies of colonialization and slavery. (For analysis of contrasting racializing and ethnicizing depictions of the same Central American immigrants, see Coutin and Chock 1995.) The idea of languages other than English having value has limited traction in the US. Elsewhere in the world language is routinely seen as a neoliberal skill set (see e.g., Duchêne and Heller 2012) based on its capacity for providing added value (Jaffe 2007). 21. Drawing on his experience as a National Science Foundation proposal reviewer, Brenneis shows how the proposal forms reflect the conditions and interests framing their construction, including classifications of information (boxes to be checked) that proposal writers must choose from. Brenneis also points out the forms’ explicit reference to NSF’s accountability to the interests of stakeholders, i.e., “those who have a beneficial interest in the results of some activity” (2006: 62). Even more interesting is the neoliberal rationale offered by NSF for encouraging proposals from underrepresented social groups—or as NSF calls them, ‘diverse stakeholders’—not to level a historically uneven playing field but because of the benefits accruing to society at large. 22. accessed 11-9-2020 as “race/ethnic standards for federal statistics and administrative reporting” by Office of Management and Budget Directive 15 ( directive15.html, accessed 9 November 2020). 23. See Yanow 2003, chapters 2 and 3, for an extensive discussion of the anomalies in these categories.

Introduction  ♦ 35 24., accessed 9 November 2020. Thanks to Susan Mason for this background. 25. A particularly interesting implementation of diversity semiotics is analyzed by Mena and García (2020) as what they term the ‘converse racialization’ strategies deployed by the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to frame its Spanish language program. By ‘converse racialization’ Mena and García mean strategies pointing toward unmarkedness and away from any racial identification, including white. 26., accessed 24 August 2021. 27. It took a few years for the OIA to add ability to this list. One might ask why not age as well; perhaps the list was composed for students to see themselves in it. 28. Indexes can also be understood as ‘pointing to’ some element of context. Silverstein’s work in indexicality draws on the work of Roman Jakobson ([1957] 1971 and elsewhere) and of C.S. Peirce (1955), who first developed the notion of tripartite signification (iconicity, indexicality, symbolic) depending on the relation of sign (that which is interpreted) to what is signified (object) to the mental process of signification (interpretant). This is further discussed in Chapter 3. See also Silverstein (1976) and Parmentier (1994) for helpful discussion. 29. Many readers will here recognize Bourdieu’s (1979) notion of habitus. 30. There is a considerable literature on the social basis of reality construction, more than I have room to discuss here, but Berger and Luckmann (1966) is a good place to start. 31. This continual process of interpretation through signs linked to context is called semiotic mediation; see Mertz and Parmentier 1985. 32. See also Parmentier 1994 (after Silverstein 1993) on metasemiotic regimentation, where people are directed, often covertly, toward preferred or dominant patterns of interpretation. 33. As Agha (2007a: 80) puts it, registers are usefully thought of as “repertoire(s) of performable signs” that are “products (or precipitates) of human activity” and, at the same time, “sociohistorical process(es).” 34. A shifter is an indexical grammatical element (word or morpheme) whose “referential value … depends on the presupposition of its pragmatic value” (Silverstein 1976: 24, from Jakobson [1957] 1971). In English, shifters include deictic time or space adverbs (now/then, here/there), demonstratives (this/ that), verb tenses (present, past, future), and personal pronouns (I, we, you, s/he, it, they). The referential value of these depends on the speaker’s position (presupposed pragmatic value) in time or place, as well as social position (“we don’t do that here” aligning we and here in opposition to that). In that they ‘point’ to/from a speaker position, such elements are deictic. 35., accessed 9 November 2020. Italics mine.


What Is Liberal Arts Education ‘For’? rrr

Becoming a Model Person: Higher Education and Unmarked Public Space At first glance, no form of education seems less likely to become a primary site of neoliberal diversity than that of the elite liberal arts, an institution historically anchored in white male public space. While its white male associations are now played down, it does remain a space of privilege. At the same time, the very indeterminacy of a liberal arts curriculum enables it to be neoliberalized as a soft skill set. In such an imaginary, diversity readily fits as a contribution, even as a sort of soft skill in itself. This is compatible with the long history of young people in the United States transitioning from a liberal arts education to the corporate world—a movement that has little to do with any academic content but much to do with cultural, social, and symbolic capital. The original colonial colleges (unlike many later public universities) were men’s colleges, as were many nineteenth-century liberal arts colleges including the College, most not becoming coeducational until at least the mid-twentieth century. Nor did black students attend such schools before the mid-nineteenth century, and then only a few. The whiteness associated with liberal arts education is also evident in the belief of many white funders of post-Civil War black colleges that such colleges should provide practical education (whereas black funders emphasized liberal arts to educate future leadership) (Thelin 2004: 102–3). In line with Hill’s (2008) notion of a white public space of language, and Feagin’s (2009) notion of a white racial frame of US social history, we can think of privileged social action taking place in high-status white male public space. That liberal arts education has long defined that space is evident in the investment of so many, within and outside the academy, in aligning liberal arts with the classical texts and values of what has come to be called Western civilization. Throughout this chapter we will see how college curricula have been variously tightened or loosened until the 1980s when many (especially

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humanities) faculty brought multicultural literatures and histories into their curricula, triggering a sharp backlash from defenders of Western civilization as the basis of American culture. By 2000 or so, that sense of opposition had lost considerable steam as such non-canonic curricula became established. In the meantime, a neoliberal social imaginary had emerged recasting the liberal arts as a space of diversity and a source of high-end employees. The neoliberal notion that makes it possible to rationalize the ‘impractical’ nature of the liberal arts curriculum as career preparation is the notion of soft skills: interactional and personal qualities reimagined as productive worker assets. The classic examples are communication, team, and leadership skills. The whole liberal arts experience can be reimagined this way, not as just any skill set, but as something special, as we see in this Forbes article by a corporate CEO and liberal arts alumnus and trustee: It is foolish to underappreciate the value of liberal arts skills. It is bad for our country, bad for business and bad for those just starting in their careers … Liberal arts graduates also credit their undergraduate experience with helping them develop a broad range of important skills. During my 38 years in the corporate sector, I have found that as employees progress in a career, it is these broad liberal arts skills—the ability to think critically and communicate clearly—that differentiate their performance … they look at issues from various perspectives and find new ways of doing things. In other words, they think critically. And once they have a new idea, they communicate their thinking clearly and persuasively. They understand intuitively that the idea is important, but so is the ability to explain it, whether in writing or in front of a group. While these characteristics can be developed at a large university, they are the hallmarks of liberal arts institutions, where small classes foster interaction and meaningful discourse that require students to develop and defend their views. The ability to think, to conceptualize, to come up with creative ideas separates the top performers.1

The author argues that the quality of small college interaction reinforces the soft skills of critical thinking and innovation, and he cautions against narrow training in specific skills. The nature of liberal arts education as that which equips the mind to deal with the world (as we see in this chapter) is reimagined accordingly. Although the article does not mention diversity, this reimagining of the liberal arts

What Is Liberal Arts Education ‘For’?  ♦ 39

creates a place in what had been white educational space for imagining diversity experience as skill-like. Examples of this are readily found in OIA-authored narratives about students using their marked race/ class backgrounds to find their career paths; more on this in Chapter 2. Although from a sociological perspective, the primary function of higher education is the reproduction of dominant social values and configurations (Bourdieu and Passeron 1977), that function does not figure in arguments about whether higher education should equip the mind or train for a career—arguments that treat education in causal and, in one way or another, modernist terms. The idea of liberally educating a student into a better person fits the early modern Enlightenment ethos. The idea of training a student to be a worker or professional fits the modern ethos of corporate expansion. The idea of turning a student into a flexible self-monitoring employee fits a late modern neoliberal ethos. The history of US higher education is diffuse and complex in ways that fit none of these positions easily, yet the possibility that the education process does not readily turn students into something rarely gets any traction: educational policy is highly invested in cause-and-effect thinking. Liberal arts colleges, and national education projects generally, have been modernity projects. What is now called ‘the Enlightenment’ coalesced, during the eighteenth century, into a set of principles for understanding the social and natural world. These intellectual principles organized the efforts of natural historians, philosophers, and other investigators and social planners to develop systems of explanation and morality that rested on their own internal principles (Harvey 1990: 12). What is now called ‘classical modernity’, the nineteenth-century development of these principles, can be understood as a concatenation of variably connected social, economic, and political formations, modes of conceptualization, and ideologies, imagined related in cause-and-effect terms, however loosely linked they might be. These all grow from historical circumstances and find their way through the world along specific trails of action: through the social history of Europe and its colonial expansion, the rise and spread of capitalism in particular places and times, the emergence of the nation-state as the dominant political formation, and the emergence and spread of Enlightenment projects and values (Knauft 2002). Giddens (1990) describes as a defining principle of modernity the disembedding of social systems, removing social relations from local contexts of interaction and restructuring them across time and space, with participation characterized by future-oriented trust in abstractions.

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This principle is central to the establishment of higher education institutions as centers to produce abstract knowledge that depend on circulating and commensurating2 social forms, classes, texts, grades, and other assessment measures, accreditation practices and institutional connections to accrediting agencies, procedures, and qualifications for hiring, promotion and tenure, and so on. The apparent coherence of higher education as a modernity project lies not so much in its quite variable substance but in the narratives of what it should do for young minds. Modernist subjectivity privileges notions of cause-and-effect, and certainty of knowledge and outcomes: do X so that Y will result. Experts, who can be breathtakingly positivist about the concepts with which they work, are called on to craft these cause-and-effect systems in education and in every modern organization that exists. Yet, as Giddens argues, such total control is not possible because of the nature of knowledge itself: knowledge and systems of knowledge are inherently unstable, constantly subject to revision. But certainty is ideologically hard to shake. One sees it in the belief that education can, in and of itself, turn 17- to 22-year-olds into model citizens and workers.

Higher Education and the Emergence of Liberal Arts in the Early United States As a national US project, modern education starts with public primary and secondary education as it developed from the 1870s with the expansion of the corporate sector. School planning was framed by the nineteenth-century cult of efficiency (Callahan 1962; Berman 1983), as can be seen in public education developments from primary to post-secondary levels, with influence from the business sector and progressive social planners on the development of high schools (Nasaw 1979). Detailed reviews of US public primary and secondary education since the nineteenth century (Spring 1972; Tyack 1974) show how schools and school programs were centralized and standardized under regimes of expertise, especially programs and policies within and outside the classroom designed to Americanize and modernize the lives and habits of immigrants and their children, in large part with an eye to their future in the workforce. From the end of World War II through the 1970s, US educational policy placed Cold War emphasis on science education (Spring 1976). While this may look like top-down planning by the state, it is better understood as a concatenation of policies and programs (Spring 1972; Tyack 1974; Tyack and Cuban 1995) tied together by circulating talk among experts. There is no national

What Is Liberal Arts Education ‘For’?  ♦ 41

education policy in the sense of a single coherent plan, but there is one in a de facto sense, linked by institutionalized practices and interests (Spring 1976): from 1945 to 1970 or so, the Cold War and the civil rights movement were the concerns around which national education constituencies were organized, through networks of special interest, text capitalism, and court and legislative action. The history of college and university education in the United States differs from that of primary and secondary education in some ways, starting with their initial patterns of development (Rudolph 1962; Tyack 1974). Numerous colonial and early post-Revolutionary academies were established in places that had no primary or secondary education. Many schools established as secondary (more or less) level academies, some for Native American education, were reincarnated as colleges. The college movement itself predated the public school movement. While private education had been available since the colonial era, and the first public schools had opened in the early nineteenth century, public education emerged as a nationwide initiative in the late nineteenth century. While the legislative specifics of school administration remain at the state level, the structural patterns of public schooling developed, not altogether evenly, at a national level, as did its nationalizing and modernizing projects. And whether public, private, or homeschooled, a minimum participation in education is required by every state. Thus, to generalize, the idea of universal participation in primary and secondary education has long figured in the national imagining of its citizenry, turning non-Americans into Americans, preparing students to participate in the US economy and democracy, and inculcating a modern subjectivity. Post-secondary (college/university) education as a national project has been more piecemeal. Like primary and secondary, post-secondary education is imagined preparing students to participate in society, and its curricular specifics have been debated by various experts. But unlike primary and secondary, post-secondary education is not legally required, is almost never free, is much more privatized, takes a wider variety of forms, and can play a greater role in transforming class position. Elite liberal arts education is especially important in this regard, which is why, despite having been so often characterized as the opposite of modern, people continue to pay a lot of money for it. US higher education institutions have come into being, and students have enrolled in them, for reasons framed by social and institutional specifics of their place and time, and their relationship to comparable schools. The classification of higher education institutions

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by comparison group was not thoroughly codified until about 1980 (Zemsky and Oedel 1983), but institutional classification has existed in some form since higher education came to the colonies (Lucas 1994). Colonial colleges were formed under a range of religious aegises, and economic and political conditions (Brubacher and Rudy 1958: 3–24; Rudolph 1962: 3–12; Thelin 2004: 8–32). In 1636, Harvard was founded to bring a bit of England’s Cambridge University-based Puritan theology to the New World (with Cambridge MA named after Cambridge University) and to provide “learning, divine and humane” (Rudolph 1962: 6) for religious and civic leadership. Founded for similar reasons between 1693 and 1769 were the other eight colonial colleges: William and Mary, the Collegiate School at New Haven (Yale), the College of Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania), the College of New Jersey (Princeton), King’s College (Columbia), the College of Rhode Island (Brown), Queen’s College (Rutgers), and Dartmouth. As expressed at the 1693 founding of William and Mary, students should be “piously educated in good letters and manners” (Lucas 1994: 105). While these colleges were founded in a spirit of denominationalism, they also maintained a general freedom from sectarian control. By the late colonial period, the dominant emphasis at these schools had come to be placed not on specific knowledge but on a set of principles about what it meant to be educated. In language still familiar on liberal arts college websites, the Provost of the College of Philadelphia in the mid-1700s said, “Thinking, writing, and acting well … is the grand aim of a liberal education” (Lucas 1994: 106, citing Cheyney 1940: 83). Colonial colleges, governed by presidents and boards of trustees, differed structurally from their English models, which were governed by faculty (Thelin 2004: 11),3 and were accessible to a wider social range of students. But what was taught was pretty much imported from Cambridge and Oxford in England: Greek, Latin, Hebrew, logic, rhetoric, natural philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, mathematics, and classical and Biblical philology, “less as an induction into various branches of learning and more as a fixed body of absolute, immutable truths” (Lucas 1994: 109) considered necessary to clerical and civic leadership as well as to the study of law, medicine, and theology. Such education should create a sense of unity, advance learning, combat “ignorance and barbarism,” provide instruction in loyalty, citizenship and “the dictates of conscience and faith,” acquire knowledge for managing “the temporal affairs of the world” and train teachers (Rudolph 1962: 13). In these ways, eighteenth-century colleges served as sites for “moral apprenticeship” at the edges of colonial life (Bledstein

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1976: 209). Their curricula were not static. By the mid-1700s, colonial college founders, presidents, and other interested parties introduced science and mathematics, sometimes in active correspondence with leading English and Scottish scholars. “As eighteenth-century intellectuals, they were immersed in the complex intellectual currents of the enlightenment” (Humphrey 1972: 186), with trustees and students often equally interested. All this emerged in the context of growing colonial economies and the establishment of family wealth, which in turn supported educational development and innovation. The decades from the Revolution to the Civil War saw a sharp increase in the number and type of colleges established, including the first state colleges. College building spread out in diffuse geographic patterns, as states became invested with degree-granting authority, and as long distances and limited transportation encouraged development along transportation corridors (Brubacher and Rudy 1958: 59ff).4 Colleges were often established less for local needs than in the local spirit of enterprise: “College-founding in the nineteenth century was undertaken in the same spirit as canal-building, cotton-ginning, and gold-mining” (Rudolph 1962: 48). Higher education was entrepreneurial, “America’s ‘cottage industry’” manifested in institutional expansion and in innovations in form, curricula, financing, response to various constituencies, and appeal to consumers “with virtually no government accountability or regulation”—not chaotic, but inflected by the geographic, demographic, and economic patterns then developing (Thelin 2004: 41). Despite a few proposals for a national university, institutions remained regional in focus, and overall successful. Charters were granted relatively easily by state governments, and newly established schools were innovative in curricula and resourceful in funding; denominational affiliations were especially important for many new schools in this regard. New types of schools included women’s colleges (often not originally designated as colleges but as seminaries or women’s institutes), military academies, science, engineering, and agriculture schools, and a few ‘diploma mills,’ particularly in the form of medical colleges (Lucas 1994: 116–23; Thelin 2004: 44–60). Black colleges were first established shortly after the Civil War: Howard as a university, Morehouse and Spelman as seminaries, Hampton Institute and Tuskegee Institute as agriculture schools (Thelin 2004).5 During this period, the New England ‘hilltop’ colleges became general models for liberal arts colleges (Thelin 2004: 53). What should constitute the content of that education was the subject of argument. Some colleges of this era were willing to take a fluid and experimental

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stance toward their curricula in the early republican period (Lucas 1994: 131–34). Jefferson’s University of Virginia (chartered 1819) was probably the most carefully and imaginatively planned education experiment, combining older and newer courses of study and inviting students to make their choice. But its structure proved largely unworkable (Rudolph 1962: 126), and the reality of student life did not live up to Jefferson’s intent (Thelin 2004: 52). Of particular interest as a statement of the value of knowledge is the 1828 report issued by Yale faculty defending the Greek and Latin classics as the foundation of a liberal education for its capacity to develop the powers of the mind, and stock it with appropriate ideas: “Our prescribed course contains those subjects only which ought to be understood … by everyone who aims at a thorough education” (cited by Rudolph 1962: 133). Most commentators on the Yale Report, as it is known, stress its conservative justification of a core curriculum, but the report did include such ‘new’ curricular subjects as natural sciences. And while the report certainly advocates slow change, the more important issue was whether the value of a curriculum and of knowledge lay in training students for a specific profession or not: The great object of a collegiate education, preparatory to the study of a profession, is to give that expansion and balance … those liberal and comprehensive views, and those fine proportions of character, which are not to be found in him whose ideas are always confined to one particular channel. (Yale Report, cited by Lucas 1994: 133)

While ‘Enlightenment Yale’ was cautiously willing to consider teaching more ‘modern’ subjects, most liberal arts colleges were not willing to be so modern as to actually train students for jobs. The one striking exception to this conservativism was Union College in Schenectady NY, which established a science curriculum in 1828 and a civil engineering program in 1845. Most schools were less concerned with meeting societal needs through useful curricula than with attracting students to their (often denominational) liberal arts college (Thelin 2004: 68). Some of these were ‘booster’ colleges, designed to be attractive in order to put their local area on the map. The content was less important than the image, a point to keep in mind when considering contemporary college marketing. The colleges of this era were more simply organized than even the smallest contemporary colleges, in large part because they were very small. The college-going population was tiny, and the pool of people

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available to staff colleges was limited. College faculties were made up of professors and tutors. Professors had some post-baccalaureate training (though limited, as the first US PhD was not awarded until 1861), often as clergymen. But they might not have had a teaching specialty, and were often expected to cover multiple subjects. Tutors were often just out of college themselves, and most were temporary. Theirs was the immediate work of instruction, including listening to student recitations. In general, professors taught a subject and tutors were assigned to work with members of an entering class. Tutors and professors both had to enforce college policy and to discipline students (but the more thankless aspects of this job went, of course, to the tutors). The final authority was the college president who supervised the faculty, oversaw the budget, kept the plant running, liaised with boards of trustees or governors, raised funds– and taught (Rudolph 1962: 156ff; Lucas 1994: 123ff). Although early board membership included many clergy, over time their membership gave way to wealthy men who were considered a greater endorsement of the institution, who gave the school a reputation for financial soundness, and who could help raise and provide money: “their authority also enabled them to keep the colleges true to the interests and prejudice of the classes from which they were drawn” (Rudolph 1962: 173). This pattern was solidly established by the university era of the late 1800s. To summarize, the following patterns had developed by 1850 or so. What are now known as liberal arts colleges emerged as a peculiarly American invention, as did business-oriented governing boards. Colleges were sorted out roughly by region and type. They also were thought of as something to be sold and something to promote their locale, along with other aspects of local enterprise. Students began to be thought of as purchasers. And the idea of a liberal arts education was starting to become a flexible classification, specified less in terms of fixed content than in opposition to professional training. In short, we see the makings of a discursive formation emerging fairly quickly and fairly coherently. It became much more refined over the next 150 years, but something was falling into place during those decades that was, in important ways, a forerunner of current discursive formations: to put it semiotically, the establishment of an interpretive order that in many ways runs right up to the present. As can be seen in the Yale Report, references to liberal arts education were already functioning as strategically deployable shifters, using reference less for semantic precision than to line the user up (its shifter function) with certain allied interests (its strategic function). The report is a statement of a

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moral imperative, of what such education should be ‘for.’ Since then, those goals have varied, but what is set is the idea that there should be a goal. Articulating the goal of education and justifying (or attacking) liberal arts has become a standard mode of authority performance by college presidents, public officials, and industrialists (all now called ‘stakeholders’), through various forms of public media. We will see examples below.

What Is Knowledge Supposed to Do? Education Becomes Modern(ist) The opposition between (Enlightenment-project) liberal arts and (classically modern) professional education, particularly technical and engineering, really came into focus during the era of corporate expansion from about 1870. Where liberal arts education was oriented toward the student’s future social role, professional training was oriented toward that student filling the needs of whoever hired him (or her, but more likely him). This opposition was reinforced with the rise of technical education. Throughout the early 1800s, attempts at science and technical education were made sporadically and with varying degrees of success in the early colleges. Science was most successfully established at Harvard and (despite the 1828 report) at Yale. By the mid-1800s, independent mechanic arts and technical schools were becoming established, most notably Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in 1849, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1861. The 1862 Morrill Act opened the way for engineering schools to be set up in state systems (Noble 1977: 20ff).6 By the late 1800s, educational discourses became characterized by dueling rhetorics, driven by contrasting notions of what knowledge was supposed to be for, and who was authorized to say what students could study. Rudolph (1962: 290ff) provides an illuminating account of contrasting educational practices and attendant ideologies among leading old guard institutions during the late nineteenth century, when Harvard, Yale, and Princeton were reorganizing themselves as universities. Moreover, with the post-Civil War expansion of industry, the corporate sector, and the middle and upper-middle classes, growing numbers of students were drawn to elite colleges for their social advantages. During this period, undergraduate education was undergoing some experimentation. Harvard’s President Eliot instituted a curriculum heavily oriented toward electives, which drew considerable criticism. Debate ensued among partisans, including Princeton’s President

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McCosh who saw in Eliot’s policy a threat to the unity of knowledge in which he thought the undergraduate mind should be trained. In terms of elective courses allowed to students, Cornell was closest to Harvard for having the most electives, followed by Columbia, Stanford, William and Mary, and the midwestern and western state universities. At the least elective end were Princeton, Rutgers, Williams, Hamilton, Union, and southern state universities, with Yale in a middle position of dropping requirements but building in structured sequences. The battle over electives engaged issues of the modern in two ways. First, in opening the sciences to students, electives moved higher education closer to contemporary research and production concerns. Second, the idea of electives and the electives themselves appealed to a differently imagined student, one imagined in terms of fit into a newer economic as well as social order. In these tugs-of-war over how a college should be perceived, by whom, and to what end, we see a shift toward that market activity now known as branding. The portioning of colleges into types, and students into an earlier version of what is now a detailed market demographic, was surely pushed along by the development of university systems, both the private research institutions and the large public systems. Some telling examples of university presidents’ modernist rhetoric are provided in Veysey’s history of the university. E.J. James, the future president of the University of Illinois, said in 1891 that curricula should ideally develop “all useful types of ability in all individuals” (Veysey 1965: 67). C.W. Dabney, president of the University of Tennessee, said in 1896 that electives would produce “not a Procrustean sameness, but an infinite diversity in purpose and potentiality” (ibid.). For a brief time, the ideal was to let the student become a trained expert in some field for which professional schools were emerging. Echoing Frederick Taylor, William James wrote in 1899 of “‘dynamic scientific efficiency’ as the common denominator of all countries’ educational aims” (ibid: 116). Veysey describes this as a time in which distinct ideas of academic purpose consolidated unevenly, “and rhetoric slid more easily from one of them to another without the speakers’ being conscious of incongruity” (ibid.: 342). The major institutional trend during this period was the rise and spread of universities, though ‘the university’ was different things to different demographics. The preceding paragraph’s tiny taste of the rich menu of modernist rhetoric served up by higher education spokesmen during the era of university expansion favors the utilitarian in the specific form of education for business interests. By startling contrast,

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there is the German inspiration for Johns Hopkins and Clark universities in the 1880s, as institutions of ‘pure science’ without utilitarian application (Veysey 1965: 121ff). The notion of faculty-run institutions in which researchers pursue self-determined interest to no particular end is not really a modernist notion. But in an era of new academic disciplines, particularly sciences and social sciences, a higher education model that promised maximal research autonomy and minimal undergraduate student contact (except with those motivated enough to attune themselves to their professors’ projects) was irresistible to many up-and-coming academics; it informed Veblen’s (1918) critique of the takeover of the university by business interests and the displacing of research.7 This development helped focus the meaning of research, perhaps even knowledge itself, much more sharply on fundamental, empirically verifiable principles, reflecting an Enlightenment value placed on the reasoned understanding of the world as it is. But in the increasingly narrow expert specialization produced by the development of new disciplines, it moves away from earlier values placed on an integrated range of understandings, and toward a different kind of modernity, one resting far more heavily on the specialized credentials emerging from PhD programs established in the last decades of the 1800s. The new academic modernism of credentialed participation in a discipline became the model for the humanities as well, the new “liberal culture” of languages and literature (Veysey 1965: 180ff). Interestingly, as much of a departure from earlier liberal arts subjects as these new academic specialties were, they became, over the next decades, part of a liberal arts education along with philosophy, mathematics, and rhetoric (the remains of the original seven subjects of Aristotle’s trivium and quadrivium) which also came to fit this new format. But knowledge thus fragmented into electives was a far cry from the older model of integrated knowledge, and Harvard’s Eliot and the University of Chicago’s Harper and his ‘Bazaar’ were criticized accordingly: “No longer did any overall intellectual formula exist to counter (or to cloak) such fragmentation; neither the Christian religion in any of its varieties, nor humane culture proved self-evidently capable of making sense out of the entire range of knowledge and opinion” (Veysey 1965: 311; italics in original). By 1900, as Veysey points out, there was no one kind of American university. As Thelin (2004: 103) puts it, “the American ‘university’ remained more a matter of aspiration and of terminology than of nationwide achievement.” Thelin traces the beginnings of many state systems of multiple linked colleges back through land grant legislation preceding the 1862 Morrill Act; the 1862 and 1890 Morrill

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Acts played a major role in expanding state colleges into a “‘university’ model of federated units” (ibid.: 104) including A&M (agricultural and mechanics) schools. The American university model that emerged was not planned through some central vision, but evolved piecemeal, often poorly funded but “surprisingly pervasive” (ibid.: 103–4). Much of the idea that universities are coherently modern institutions lies in the perception of their bureaucratized structures, layered and centralized, framing expert knowledge production. To an extent they are that. There is bureaucracy, there is administrative centralization, and there is a fairly standardized process of knowledge production. But then, as anyone who has worked in academe knows, playing against these centripetal forces are the centrifugal forces generated by such anomalies as disciplinary orientation and allegiance (drawing professional alliance and investment away from the institution and toward an external discipline), the relative autonomy of departments that design and carry out their own curricula, and of course tenure (awarded in substantial part on the basis of outside review), which, once earned, makes it difficult to get a faculty member dismissed. So, for faculty, the normative bureaucracy in which every worker has a supervisor overseeing the downward movement of task structure and the upward movement of reported results, all within the institution, is complicated and in some ways attenuated. Add to that the fact that higher education faculty have relatively more control over the disposition of their time than do most mid-level employees in organizations of any size, and institutionalized education turns out to be one of the less ‘modern’ bureaucracies around. Andrew Abbott’s sociological work on expertise and on disciplines is useful here. Abbott (1988) characterizes the areas defining professions in terms of tasks amenable to expert service: there are problems to be solved and experts whose job it is to solve them. These structures of expertise are characteristic of a modern organization and had begun to emerge in non-discipline-based aspects of higher education administrations by 1900, when Morris Cooke’s Taylorist expertise was summoned (see below)—a principle that keeps gaining traction. In the same time frame, faculty became increasingly trained as researchers to fit their disciplinary boundaries in what Abbott (2001) calls “the chaos of disciplines” structuring the emergence of academic departments. Disciplinary knowledge grows in an institutionally different manner than does professional expertise, and it is usually not framed as “problem-solving.” New disciplinary knowledge emerges in relation to previous forms of disciplinary knowledge, and in response to institutional

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structuring of such knowledge at larger and smaller scales. Abbott argues that disciplinary knowledge and authority are reproduced in a fractal manner, recreating locally, within universities and colleges, the pattern of more general disciplinary networks found, at the national or international level, in disciplinary organizations. Academic disciplines have thus, throughout their histories, operated in a continual state of redefinition, becoming, as Abbott describes them, like amoebas putting out pseudopods in multidimensional intellectual space that are hemmed in by other amoebas in older forms of that discipline. As one might expect, considerable professional rivalry ensues, not to mention considerable incommensurability in what counts as important or useful knowledge. Imagine all this framed by a modernist administrative structure whose primary investment (even among administrators who themselves come out of academic disciplines) is in institutional problem-solving. Then imagine how this disciplinary state of affairs looks to the corporate sector, whose expansion is much more generally framed in terms of expertise-based authority. Then imagine the fodder this state of affairs provides for corporate and political critics of higher education. By the 1890s, boards of trustees had become thoroughly business oriented. Critics of higher education were often heard from, particularly those with industrial sector interests who routinely called for higher education to be reformed along industrial lines for greater operational efficiency, an ideology informed by the dominance of Taylor’s scientific management paradigm and (judging from William James’s comment above) not limited to industrialists. At least steel magnate Andrew Carnegie backed up his criticisms with philanthropic donations to libraries, research institutions, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.8 With its large endowment and a board rich in business connections and technical expertise, the Carnegie Foundation became the major player in bringing modernist classification order to the tangle of institutional forms and types that made up higher education at that time (Barrow 1990: 65). Its first president, Henry Pritchett, was also president of MIT, and he fervently believed that higher education needed to be run more efficiently, taking corporations as models. To this end, he contacted Frederick Taylor about doing an efficiency study of higher education; Taylor referred Pritchett to his protégé Morris Cooke, who obligingly carried out a study of academic efficiency (Cooke 1910). While many of Cooke’s recommendations (such as getting rid of tenure, and not treating lecture notes and research as the personal property of faculty) were not implemented,

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one significant outcome was an organizational model in which faculty were recast as labor, mental workers who could in theory be incorporated into a top-down institutional structure and assessed as workers might be in any other industry (Barrow 1990: 70). This opened the door to cultivating professional university administrators whose roles existed apart from those of teaching faculty. It was also consonant with the rise of policies and practices (ibid.: 110ff) that mapped commensurating devices onto academics. Among these was the widespread use of surveys that standardized and coordinated information about the land grant and A&M schools then transitioning to university systems and the private research universities; these surveys were particularly in use in state systems. One outcome of such activity was an aligned understanding of what colleges and universities were and what they were for, not as individual institutions but as types and systems. Another outcome was a privileging of those institutional aspects that could be measured, such as the ‘student clock-hour’ (that is, the Carnegie Unit or student credit-hour), which rationalized the dropping of low-enrollment courses and the consolidation of faculty positions and fields of study. These outcomes had ‘practical’ applications, particularly justifying the linking of salary to ‘faculty productivity,’ a concern dear to the hearts of governing boards, especially at public institutions. This was also the point, Barrow believes (ibid.: 119), when colleges and universities were first specifically charged with training students for jobs. Modernist framing of higher education accelerated considerably after World War II through a concatenation of circumstances and policies. With the 1944 passage of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, better known as the G.I. Bill, all veterans were eligible for education and training grants, as well as loans to buy homes and open small businesses. By 1950, two million veterans had taken advantage of the G.I. Bill to enter post-secondary education. Participating schools were legally required to be federally approved, but certifying higher education institutions was not a federal function. That job went to regional accreditation associations, which thence became the standard periodic reviewers for degree-granting institutions. As large numbers of potential and entering students needed to be processed quickly, standardized tests were used extensively for admissions, advanced placement, and other program decisions (Thelin 2004: 263–67). In short, the institutional technologies now taken for granted in accreditation and student processing became routinized during this period. Moreover, the high proportion of G.I. Bill admissions who pursued engineering and business studies put those programs in the spotlight. In 1946, in the

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wake of these developments, President Truman set up a Commission on Higher Education to examine “the functions of higher education in our democracy and the means by which they can best be performed” (report language cited by Thelin 2004: 268). In its resulting report, the commission called for American colleges and universities to take on a much larger role in national life, to “become the means by which every citizen, youth and adult, is enabled and encouraged to carry his education, formal and informal, as far as his native capacities permit” (President’s Commission 1947: 101, cited in Wechsler 1977: 252ff). This report is striking for its emphasis on knowledge broken into constituent elements targeting specific occupational applications: “Increased technology complexity would call forth a variety of talents, including ‘social sensitivity and versatility, artistic ability, motor skill and dexterity, and mechanical aptitude and ingenuity’” (Wechsler 1977: 253, including citation of President’s Commission 1947: 32). Moreover, the growing complexity of workforce needs meant schools must seek students with talents beyond “verbal aptitudes and a capacity for grasping abstractions” (Wechsler 1977: 253), a markedly technicized interpretation of candidates for liberal arts education. The commission stated that the future of US democracy depended on students being educated for “social understanding and technical competence,” the latter “intensive, accurate and comprehensive enough to give the student command of marketable abilities” (President’s Commission 1947: 69, cited in Wechsler 1977: 253). The commission recommended a general education curriculum that included “acquisition of skills involved in critical and constructive thinking” (President’s Commission 1947: 58, cited in Wechsler 1977: 254). While Congress had neither the resources nor the desire to allocate money for the kind of sweeping programs called for in the report, the call for mass education was taken up by states and private foundations. At the same time, the call for scientific education was put out in 1945 by Vannevar Bush in Science the Endless Frontier. Bush recommended the creation of a federal agency of the type that became the National Science Foundation (Thelin 2004: 271). In ensuing decades, the NSF and similar agencies poured enormous resources into science and technological education, which correspondingly expanded. In sum, a major ideological legacy of the era of high modernity following World War II was the technicizing of the very idea of knowledge. (The President’s Commission report marks an early instance of the now routine count noun use of skills as something workers should have, and students should acquire.) This ideology powerfully framed

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higher education as it expanded in the 1950s. As students and parents took for granted that the value of academic concentrations lay in their career utility, the question became what does one “do” with a major in English or history or philosophy or, Heaven forfend, anthropology?

So, What about Those Liberal Arts Majors? What indeed does one do with such majors? One might think that increasing concern with post-secondary worker training meant that liberal arts would become less valued, and many industrialists said just that. But then many of the same industrialists sent their own sons to liberal arts colleges to pick up the social and symbolic capital not found in classrooms, with which to climb their corporate ladders. The notion that high-end college degrees should bring such returns was certainly in play by the 1860s. There is the oft-repeated story of Henry Adams’s Harvard student telling him that “The degree of Harvard College is worth money to me in Chicago” (Rudolph 1962: 65–66). What was it that was worth money? Certainly not what people learned. For instance, the fact that all Yale students in the mid-1800s had to take Latin and Greek, whether they planned to enter the clergy or not, was not the point. For the professional-mercantile elite graduating from schools like Yale into the governing stratum of the northeast, the curriculum was important not so much as a substantive body of knowledge, as for its role in transmitting a coherent corporate identity in which graduates thought of themselves as the heirs of a cultural tradition that defined them as “gentlemen,” “college men,” members of a “learned profession” or members of an “educated class.” (Barrow 1990: 39)

Going to college reinforced participation in the rising American sense of middle-classness. The idea of being middle class was settling into place as a social identity at about the time that colleges were springing up in the early 1800s, and the connection of college attendance to middle-class identity had solidified by the late 1800s (Bledstein 1976). The social content of elite liberal arts education had become an important rite of passage, even as its academic content was disparaged. Clarence F. Birdseye, father of frozen food inventor Clarence Birdseye, published The Reorganization of our Colleges in 1909, calling for the elimination of what he considered useless courses (like Classics) and for a curriculum more attuned to the needs of business, as well as a general

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overhaul of higher education administration along corporate lines. The aspects of college life that he did find useful were its extracurricular activities and fraternity life. He graduated from Amherst College as a member of Chi Psi fraternity. Did he send his son, who would develop one of the most significant technical innovations in food history, to a useful technical institution? No. Clarence the younger also attended (though did not graduate from) Amherst, where he also joined Chi Psi. In fact, one 1909 survey of business attitudes toward higher education revealed that while the ordinary American businessman was an “anti-intellectual,” executives associated with major east coast corporate establishments such as steel, railroads, mining, utilities, and banking preferred a “liberally educated” executive over a so-called “man of experience.” (Barrow 1990: 45)

The 1909 survey cited by Barrow was done by industrialist R.T. Crane, whose book The Utility of All Kinds of Higher Schooling (Crane 1909) includes the aforementioned survey, as well as jeremiads on the uselessness of college faculty and presidents, the dissipation of students, and the utility of a college education. At about this time, the trend toward social credentials inspired the innovation known as selective admissions, first developed at Columbia University by Nicholas Murray Butler who served as Dean in the 1890s and as President 1901–45. Butler envisioned undergraduate education as a crucible of leadership, which he believed had been true from the founding of the United States until the Jackson administration, and could be true again (Wechsler 1977: 73). Such a leader would be the gentleman amateur in college, and the competent professional in postgraduate studies. This meant linking the first to the second so that, for example, one could no longer train for law without a college degree. Butler perceived liberal arts education as a form of social finish for such students where “the student could acquire the mental and moral habits required of a leader in the new industrial order” (ibid.: 76). This included activity both within and outside the classroom, such as athletics and clubs, and meant recognizing the budding leader as a kind of student distinct from the academic, and at least as important, if not more so: Butler had an honors system introduced at Columbia, which in effect gave recognition to the existence of two classes of students on the campus. It rewarded students with serious intellectual interests by the granting of various academic honors, while placing no stigma on

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those “social students” who could earn the regular Columbia degree by expenditure of a minimum amount of intellectual energy. Butler also hoped to attract such students through the opening of dormitories and through the promotion of a wide-ranging extracurriculum, including a vigorous fraternity system. Thus, the College would serve a dual purpose. (Wechsler 1977: 77–78)

Butler’s new perspective on liberal arts did not have to incorporate classics, which he judged neither helpful for his intended market nor useful for the kind of mental discipline he had in mind. While still the dean, Butler played a key role in bringing about uniform entrance exams, which he and President Seth Low successfully proposed as the College Entrance Examination Board to the Middle States Association (the regional higher education association that sought to standardize admission requirements and college credentials, resulting in practices such as the Carnegie Unit). This in effect moved determination of entrance eligibility from the level of department to institution, as that institution participated in an association of similar institutions. By 1910, after years of resistance, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale had joined Columbia in the use of the College Board Entrance Examination (Wechsler 1977: 99–103). With recruitment and admissions now administratively centralized, it became possible to select students who best suited the school’s desired profile. Part of President Butler’s vision of Columbia as a nursery of corporate leadership meant seeing it as an Episcopal institution, a difficult vision to project given the large numbers of academically qualified descendants of East European Jewish immigrants applying for admission. In part this was due to then-Dean Butler’s efforts in the 1890s to recruit New York City public high school students who did not have the Greek or Latin that private school students did, which meant a larger applicant stream was coming from public schools than from private schools like Horace Mann, which would have been a more desirable source of future corporate leaders. So following the recommendation of Horace Mann’s headmaster’s advisory committee that “only such students be admitted … as are susceptible of education and as may be of benefit to the student body” (Prettyman report, 1908, cited in Wechsler 1977: 149, italics Wechsler’s), President Butler, along with Columbia College’s dean and admissions director, implemented recruitment policies designed to attract applicants from outside New York City, and, by 1919, admission procedures screening for desirable social qualifications. This led to the use of detailed admissions forms that included

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personal information and interests, a photograph, and recommendations from high school teachers. With the birth of what readers will recognize as the modern college application form, along with admissions interviews and the use of then-innovative and allegedly objective intelligence tests, Columbia could screen New York Jewish applicants, limiting the number admitted to 20 percent without resorting to an explicit quota system. These exclusionary strategies paid off in the 1920s, allying liberal arts education to selection for social qualifications to craft a student body onto which was grafted a set of uniting collegiate traditions (Wechsler 1977: 144–75). The use of selective admissions pioneered at Columbia was adopted, for the same reasons, by President Lowell at Harvard in 1922, who, in addition, created the Harvard House system to turn his future leaders into scholars (Horowitz 1987: 104–5). For the middle-class young man ready to enter corporate life, the liberal arts degree had become a key piece of symbolic capital. This brings us to the importance of student life, which pretty much undermines any modernist pretensions. Student life has never been the most orderly aspect of college life. The notion of the residential college as a liberal arts social form provided an idea of continuity with their English models, but a residential college was (and is) not an especially easy form to live with (Rudolph 1962: 96ff). Early nineteenth-century liberal arts colleges saw a lot of hazing and drinking among students, bad relations between students and town residents, and intense, often violent, student resistance to discipline from faculty whose job it was to teach tightly prescribed classical curricula and who were themselves not always well trained. Nor were lodging and dining facilities close to what would now be considered adequate. The faculty–student divide was exacerbated by faculty concerns with weeding out weak students, and student perceptions of that as an attack on their sense of themselves as a student community, thus resisting such selection through pervasive cheating (Horowitz 1987: 32ff). Other than cheat, students could do little about curricula; but they could and did, in the 1820s and 1830s, begin to develop new forms of sociality framing their living conditions, including literary societies, which took up the curricular slack, and eating clubs and fraternities, which took up the social slack. In addition, they organized athletics, which provided something physical to do.9 These new social forms provided social life apart from the colleges themselves; fraternities in particular provided a place to present oneself in new ways (Rudolph 1962: 144ff). These new forms were also framed by an emergent middle-class identity, with athletics in particular marking the category youth as sui generis,

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a stage between child and adult. Fraternities, by housing and feeding their membership, significantly relieved the administrative burden of college presidents. They also became an important social investment for their members, promoting social exclusion and status reproduction, and focusing attention away from classroom to fraternity activities, which, at least, distracted attention from faculty as ‘the enemy’ (Bledstein 1976: 250–54). Fraternities also eroded a sense of belonging to a particular entering or graduating class. The emergence of a distinct residential liberal arts college student culture as part of the new American middle-class identity fit the class-reproduction motive for going to college (the central thesis of Bledstein 1976). This develops over time: “the golden age of college” does not completely flower until between 1890 and 1920 (Thelin 2004: 155), and the period between the two world wars was critical to the expansion of the now-key functions of higher education: training, accrediting, and imparting status (Levine 1986). By the 1920s, the collegiate culture previously invented by more elite students had spread to less elite state schools. The 1920s also saw more co-ed socializing and an expanded concept of ‘fun’ in which fraternities ruled, with college social traditions handed down to each new entering class, reinforcing social divides and conservative attitudes. This is eventually appropriated for the bureaucratic production of “organized fun” (Horowitz 1987: 119). Universities needed colleges to supply candidates for graduate programs, liberal arts schools being an especially important source, and universities needed their own undergraduate colleges as tuition sources (Thelin 2004: 156ff). To keep students coming, they needed to provide that fun in the form of sports, sociality, and associated songs, mascots, and campus rituals. The image of an aged and traditional campus counted heavily among these signifiers. Actual schoolwork ranked lower. By the 1920s, the notion of collegiate life was iconized in popular culture, much of which was metacultural in Urban’s (2001) sense of providing an interpretative format that pushed along new cultural development. The undergraduate life of an idealized liberal arts college became known to the public as an evocative string of images, often sentimentalized in fiction and movies,10 drenched in tradition and, ideally, age, although the number and location of liberal arts colleges that really were old was limited. This idealization of the liberal arts college, particularly as a New England prototype, was an invented tradition based on gauzy folk memories of an older era that never quite existed. Thelin (1976) locates the beginnings of the invention of this tradition,

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including the idealizing of the New England liberal arts college, in the 1920s. He shows how the emergence of the cluster of schools that came to be known by the 1950s as the Ivy League11 was framed not just by interests of students and sportswriters but by representations in popular fiction and media. With a shift in what had been a small college eliteness to a large university eliteness (helped along by admissions craftsmanship) with a new and distinctly American flavor, this collective identity played a central cultural role in bringing images of liberal arts to life. With depression-era retention an ongoing challenge, the reality at most schools, even some eastern elite schools, was shakier than the photogenic imagery (Thelin 2004: 177). Ever-present budget concerns also meant continually playing up that imagery, particularly sports-related, to keep alumni donors interested, but this could also mean having “to coexist, and even compete, with the sideshows of college life” (ibid.: 198). Successful alumni, as former students, are more likely than current students to view their college memories nostalgically in terms of the social life and forms they consider responsible for their success. Much of the reproduction of symbolic capital associated with liberal arts education is mediated through the social capital provided by fraternity membership. Finding a place for all these student life innovations meant constant compromise, and ran counter to modernist notions of expert control. College administrators and education policy specialists responded to what seemed an increasing diffuseness and disorderliness of student life with what amounted to their best guesses for what might ‘solve’ such problems. Higher education organizations like the Carnegie Foundation encouraged reform patterns leaning toward corporate models across institutions. Presidents and other institutional administrators devised internal changes to engineer student cohesion through living arrangements, unified curricula, and honors programs (ibid.: 234ff).

Critics from the 1930s to the 2000s: Three Master Narratives Having reviewed the winding history of US higher education, let us look at what its critics have said it should be. Such commentary starts with Greek philosophical notions of truth-seeking through argument, and with Roman oratorical standards of public, persuasive language (Kimball 1986). As these perspectives were transmitted through medieval, renaissance and Enlightenment textual and scholarly practices, through the church, through universities, and through early US

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colleges, they also became coherent with the values and understandings of their times and places. Over the past couple of centuries, as we have seen, authorized voices in US higher education have contrasted liberal arts as mental discipline deriving from the study of specific, selected texts (as young people cannot know what will educate them best), with liberal arts as a set of possibilities chosen largely by the student (who learns best by exploring). Thus, liberal arts, far from a timeless ideal, is rooted in contrasting academic traditions, from which varying sets of practices and ideals have grown, become historically embedded, changed over time, and taken on and shed ideological baggage. Yet commentators and critics have long spoken and written as if the eternal verities of education must exist independent of any context. To show how notions of diversity (starting as multiculturalism) have found their way into higher education ideologizing, I review three distinct eras of commentary by US voices of educational authority that show how the values attributed to liberal arts intertwine with other key values of the time. The first is a series of 1930s through to 1970s higher education journal articles about what a liberal arts education should be and do. The second is a series of 1980s publications about liberal arts curricula in relation to students as developing citizens and national values generally, as opposed to (what was then called) ‘multicultural’ academic curricula. The third emerges in the late 1990s, and focuses on the relation of liberal arts to students as future workers, and thus to the job market and the larger economy; it is in this third area that the idea of neoliberally valued diversity takes shape. Note, in all three, the function of liberal arts as a strategically deployable shifter, its denotation less important than its user’s alignment with desired perspectives and alliances, stressing what liberal arts really is or should be.

1930s–1970s: Should Liberal Arts Prepare Students for Their Place in Society? And If So, How? This literature addresses the nature and future of the liberal arts. Twenty-five articles about liberal arts curricula and colleges appeared in the Journal of Higher Education between 1930 (when it began publishing) and 1970. This must have been a crucial period for such discussions, because after 1970 the journal published very few articles about liberal arts, with those few being about organizational issues. But in this period, especially 1930–1950, the journal regularly published prescriptive and value-oriented pieces on what liberal arts is or should be, the future of liberal arts colleges, and how to educate students for their

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place in society. Four of the seven articles published in the 1930s had authors who were then or later became college presidents. Authors asked: Would liberal arts colleges die off? Should four-year liberal arts schools be replaced by junior colleges? What values and points of social philosophy might liberal arts education impart? How might liberal arts education prepare students for their life in society? Some articles criticized faculty for being too focused on their own discipline. Some argued for the unique capacity of a liberal arts core curriculum to instill an appreciation for the values of Western civilization and to uphold standards of artistic and literary value. Some saw a liberal arts education as a defense against the excessive standardization imposed by modern society. Some saw a liberal arts education as possible with minimal requirements, while others prescribed a firm two-year core curriculum. Some argued for comprehensive examinations to demonstrate what students had learned. Occasionally an article considered the sociological function of education or reported empirical findings, although the two articles that did so on electives versus core curricula (Jones and Drake 1954; Brinker 1960) reported outcomes that did not compare with each other. By 1970, a lot of attention was being paid to the survival or demise of liberal arts education. Occasionally, an author would take note of the semantic vagueness of the term, as NYU philosopher Sidney Hook does in his article “A Challenge to the Liberal-Arts College: The adaptation of its curriculum to changes in the social order”: Before proceeding with the argument, it is necessary to look at the phrase “liberal arts” a little more closely. For unfortunately, many proposals for revision of current educational practices are ruled out as incompatible with the meaning of “liberal arts,” as if there were a clear unambiguous meaning attached to the phrase which strictly determines what its content should be. If it is freed of historical associations and derivations, and examined in terms of its actual function in use, what does the educational concept liberal arts mean? What is its opposite? The useful arts? But who among the defenders of the liberal arts will admit that they are useless? (Hook 1939: 15)

Thus, Hook says, one hears … that the objective of the liberal-arts college is “the discovery and achievement of the values and significance of life, through the organization of knowledge, the development of discipline, and the conservation of the common good.” This is fearfully vague… (Ibid.: 15)

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This does not stop Hook from trying to pin down some meaning on which to base educational reform: liberal arts should address what students understand of the work world and the social order into which they graduate. He proposes focus on the social and technological forces shaping the world, fortified by the study of ideals and values, and methods of critical analysis: “The disciplined intelligence, the relevant knowledge, and the capacity for cultural appreciation, in the minds of traditionalists, are not thereby ignored” (ibid.: 20). A comparable perspective is taken by University of Kansas sociologist Seba Eldridge (1943) in “The Liberal-Arts College: A diagnosis of its shortcomings,” which specifies three ways in which the liberal arts college should but does not educate the whole student for life in society: it does not pay attention to the world in which students will find themselves upon graduation, it focuses too heavily on text-based facticity, and it does not deal with students as individuals (this last aimed at undergraduate programs in large universities). In “The Role of the Liberal-Arts College: Here the definition given is that it is to educate,” Herbert Weisinger, of the University of Michigan English faculty, directly addresses Eldridge’s “doctrine of accommodation which, in the name of progress and modernity, has resulted in the virtual abandonment of the liberal arts tradition in the liberal arts colleges themselves” (Weisinger 1944: 247), a criticism that encompasses Hook as well. The liberal arts exist to educate, and they have a definite content, so cannot be confined to the society in which students currently live, nor are students suited to judge what they need to learn: “It is our business to lay before the student the monuments, and by that word I mean the books, paintings, music, and experiments, which have made Western civilization what it is” (ibid.: 249). For Weisinger, these should provide the content of a two-year core curriculum for all students, with focus on the ancients, and without progressive notions about students leading the discussion. Eldridge and Hook, both social science oriented and relatively progressive in training and orientation, align liberal arts with the world of work and the social order within which students will find themselves. Their concern with educating students for a changing world foreshadows the more detailed and robust statement made in the post-World War II President’s Commission report. Weisinger, a literature specialist with a humanities orientation and who is not particularly conservative (his obituary lists him as an ACLU member) aligns liberal arts with works and texts representing accumulated wisdom. Despite this contrast in values, the journal articles of this era all reflect a concern

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with why liberal arts should stay viable. Careerist faculty and insufficient attention to the works of Western civilization may be criticized as short-changing students, but they are not seen as a challenge to national identity, as happens in the 1980s.

1980s–1990s: Multiculturalist vs. Monoculturalist Liberal Arts By the 1970s, national consciousness of gender and racial inequality had grown sharper and more politicized. Many efforts to bring these issues into public conversation were organized around the term multiculturalism: in 1970s grassroots community educational movements; in 1980s curricular concerns at select universities; and in 1990s efforts to reform “racial inequalities within existing institutions” (Newfield and Gordon 1996: 76), revise the curriculum, and improve the social climate. Multiculturalism in particular characterized work in the humanities focused on experience, including philosophy, languages and literature, cultural studies, women’s studies, African American studies, and Latino studies. In these fields, culture tends to be matched to a type of person. As a way of presenting subject matter, Newfield and Gordon note the capacity for this ‘cultural turn’ to advance an “understanding of race, power, identity, and social institutions” (ibid.: 78; see also Turner 1994). On the other hand, the same authors note, too much focus on individuals can distract attention from the structural bases of inequality. Still, whatever its conceptual drawbacks, Goldberg (1994) stresses the importance of a multiculturalist approach understood as a historically decentered process of knowledge production, in response to what he calls monoculturalism, routinely presented by its champions as a ‘natural’ condition of history, and emerging contemporaneously with “melting-pot assimilationism” (ibid.: 4; see Urciuoli 1999 for extended discussion). Multicultural programs and curricula first developed in the early 1970s with black and Latino studies and women’s studies programs, largely in response to student and faculty activism, usually at large public universities with sizable non-white student populations. Such programs were often in a fragile position, with minimal dedicated FTE and a lot of teaching overloads, with its staff routinely dismissed as non-objective and only studying ‘their own people.’ Dávila (2008: 142– 44), writing about Latino/a studies programs, points out that much of their promise was undercut by institutional politics. Too many faculty in more established disciplines too readily dismissed race/ethnic studies program faculty as less scholarly and program content as self-study

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and student service. Dávila notes how little account is taken of the structural advantage of mainstream scholars, played out in differences of ethnicity/race, gender, and institutional status (tenured versus non-tenured or non-tenure-track) among faculty, and in uneven distribution of institutional resources. She gives as an example how differently Latino studies and Latin American studies were treated at her institution. (For further excellent critique of this kind of distinction, see Abu-Lughod 1991). The multicultural approach to liberal arts education came into direct and very publicized conflict (exacerbated by its fragile institutional situation) with the realignment of many earlier assumptions about the value of liberal arts with a strikingly explicit set of concerns about the importance of national culture. This can be seen in the 1980s publication of several high-profile works focused on the salvific quality of the traditional humanities. Discussions about these works became polarized, feeding the sense of moral panic and outrage characterizing their coverage in national media. With race/gender exclusion versus national cohesion in the foreground of this coverage, authors and media coverage connected discourses on education to a national political dichotomy of ‘liberal’ versus ‘conservative.’ Key publications include E.D. Hirsch’s 1983 article and 1987 book, both titled ‘Cultural Literacy’, William Bennett’s 1984 “To Reclaim a Legacy,” Allan Bloom’s 1987 The Closing of the American Mind, and Ernest Boyer’s 1987 College: The Undergraduate Experience in America. Hirsch, who taught English and composition at the University of Virginia, did a study (funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities) of literacy acquisition among college students. He concluded that literacy skills depended on students’ familiarity with the subject matter of their texts, and therefore on a body of shared canonical information. He called this “cultural literacy,” positing that education should facilitate students’ acculturation into a “national literate culture” (Hirsch 1983: 165–66). While he acknowledged that such canonical knowledge is socially specific and in a continual state of change, he argued that leaving the content-selection decision up to teachers led to a useless pluralism, and he called for a national discussion of what students should know. His 1987 book expands this argument, and offers examples of what such information might consist of. Bennett, the National Endowment for the Humanities director under President Reagan, convened several academics to confer on what humanities should be and should do. This was motivated by

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Bennett’s concern that multiculturally inflected humanities faculty had lost sight of the values of Western civilization and its importance in higher education, leading to the decline of core curricula. Bennett’s 1984 report stressed the dangers of faculty taking what the report saw as ideologically based perspectives, and criticized faculty for being too narrowly trained, teaching their research interests instead of a solid college curriculum, and treating cultural values as relative. One conference participant described the humanities as having its worst crisis since the founding of research universities. The report concluded that a college education must be humanities based, passing on the philosophy, history, and literature of the Anglo-European bases of contemporary American society: “the civilization of the West” (Bennett 1984: 39). Bloom, a University of Chicago philosopher, criticized the ways in which higher education had failed its students, the academic fragmentation that had resulted from relativistic perspectives, and the literary techniques of deconstruction. An espouser of the “great books” encoding key principles of Western thought, he saw contemporary college education ignoring their message, and instead undercutting the moral certainties that students should take away from a solidly humanities-based education, especially philosophy. He was a particularly stringent critic of what he saw as the emptiness of youth culture and student political and social movements. Much of the book addresses what students should have learned (but could not) from what higher education should be offering (but had not). Boyer, President Carter’s commissioner of education, and Carnegie Foundation president 1979–95, saw the mission of undergraduate education as the enrichment and transformation of its students, a mission that could only be accomplished by a good general core that educated the whole person. He too criticized curricular fragmentation due to what he saw as an overspecialized careerist faculty more oriented toward their discipline than their instructional mission. He decried the empty distractions of college youth culture, particularly private societies, and the intrusion of vocationalism, displacing the proper place of the liberal arts. As he saw it, “An effective college has a clear and vital mission. Administrators, faculty, and students share a vision of what the institution is seeking to accomplish. The goals at such an institution flow from the needs of society and also from the needs of the persons seeking education” (Boyer 1987: 58). Throughout this writing, we see many of the fears expressed in the 1930s–1970 articles recast in terms of national crisis, and fears

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of invasion of what amounts to white American public space, cast as the legacy of Western civilization. While Hirsch, Bennett, Bloom, and Boyer are not equally conservative politically, they do agree that a core curriculum of key historical, philosophical, and literary works collectively representing Western civilization benefits students, and that faculty who select non-canonical material are letting students down and—the new twist—letting the country down. Bennett’s 1984 report in particular takes Weisinger’s 1944 critique to the level of national threat. Without a uniting Western cultural knowledge, higher education cannot produce good citizens, and democracy will not work. None of this can be proved. It is all axiomatic, which makes it that much easier to cast in politicized moral terms. I end this section by noting that all these arguments are about the humanities, as if no other area of study counts as liberal arts, an argument certainly implicit and often explicit in these works (especially in Bennett). Ironically, their strongest critics agree on this point: Smith (1985) launches a scathing response to Bennett’s report, but Smith still makes it an argument about the humanities (a stance irritatingly familiar to liberal arts faculty not in humanities). As Guillory (1993) points out, ‘multicultural’ and ‘Western’ perspectives are equally represented in texts, which simply by virtue of having become published take on value in the ecology of higher education. In humanities instruction, texts per se are assumed to be innate repositories of cultural value, and authors of texts are assumed to ‘stand for’ the interests of a particular social group. Indeed, by playing off the notion of a ‘Western core,’ anticanonical humanities texts reinforce it. In other words, the opposing ‘sides’ share key organizing assumptions about texts and cultural values: texts have inherent values, they can mold students, there are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ texts, and, whatever else they are, they should not be vocational.12

1990s–2000s: Liberal Arts as a Skill Set, and Diversity as Something Like a Skill The master narrative emerging in the mid-late 1990s moved away from the ‘debates’ of earlier decades about liberal arts as preparation for citizenship or provider of cultural literacy. Instead, in a clearly neoliberal shift, it took up the relevance of liberal arts for post-college careers. This shift coincided with increasing tuition and the rise of higher education branding. One of its better-known spokespeople was former liberal arts college president and frequent higher education

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consultant Richard Hersh. In a widely cited 1997 article in Change, Hersh reports on his extensive surveys of “stakeholders” concerned with education outcomes—high school and college faculty and administrators, prospective college students, their parents, recent college graduates, and business executives—about the importance of going to college, the goals of college education, and the comparative merits of liberal arts colleges, universities, and specialty institutions. Unsurprisingly, prospective students and parents tended to focus on specific forms of career training and on maximizing earning potential, and to place relatively little value on liberal arts education. Equally unsurprisingly, faculty and administrators tended to value liberal arts education, discipline-based knowledge, and learning for its own sake. Perhaps surprisingly, and certainly echoing those nineteenth-century businessmen who sent their sons to liberal arts colleges instead of technical schools, business owners valued liberal arts education for its capacity to instill “three clusters of skills: cognitive, presentational, and social” (Hersh 1997: 22). I cite Hersh because his writing on higher education exemplifies several elements pointing to the academic–corporate discursive overlap about higher education: the classification of interested parties as “stakeholders”; the opposition of “content” and “skills”; and the concern with classifying and measuring goals and outcomes. (See Hersh 2009 for an extensive discussion of “content versus skills.”) All these elements exemplify expert commentary on higher education: liberal arts, now even more semantically vacuous, is no longer about saving society and the nation. Instead, it is routinely aligned with corporate values, indexing the steady saturation of higher education by corporate values, practices, and ideologies, as is quite clear in the 2014 Forbes op-ed piece cited at the beginning of this chapter. This corporate realignment of liberal arts is highly compatible with corporatized notions of diversity. In the early 1990s, Goldberg (1994: 7–8) warned his readers about the distinction between a corporate “managed multiculturalism” and the “critical multiculturalism” of academe. Diversity was already displacing multiculturalism as preferred corporate usage. By the mid-1990s, corporate language had found its way into higher education administrative usage, through first public then private universities and then colleges, as evidenced in talk of skills, leadership, and excellence. Readings (1996) describes the spread of the term excellence, increasingly devoid of semantic content, in higher education, and increasingly allied with other corporate uses: “Excellence is thus the integrating principle that allows ‘diversity’ (the

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other watchword of the University’s prospectus) to be tolerated without threatening the unity of the system” (ibid.: 32). Ahmed (2012: 108), also citing Readings, makes the same point. Skills, leadership, excellence, diversity in administrative registers all mark an alignment of college administrative values with those of trustees, employers, corporate donors, and comparable stakeholders. Readings nails the logic of this as follows: “the invocation of excellence is … the attempt to rephrase the virtual public sphere in economic rather than political terms … appealing to an internal logic of accounting rather than to the microcosmic model of social accountability (of a communitarian bond)” (Readings 1996: 144). Until the mid-1990s, diversity and multiculturalism were still relatively synonymous in academic usage, governed by pretty much the same metasemiotic frame. By the early 2000s, that frame had split. Diversity was clearly displacing multiculturalism in institutional self-presentations to their publics, particularly in promotional prose, while multicultural/ism was increasingly limited to job and office titles in student affairs administration. The discursive link of diversity to excellence and leadership, and the evidence that such usages were now governed by the same neoliberal metasemiotics, is clear in these 1996 remarks by the then-College president: In the privileged world in which we live, it is not enough for us or our students to acknowledge, in an abstract sense, that other kinds of people with other modes of thought and feeling exist somewhere … our commitment to excellence means that we will continue to admit students based on their merits … We need to remind ourselves that student diversity has, for more than a century, been valued in its capacity to contribute powerfully to the process of learning and to the creation of an effective educational environment. It has been seen as vital to the education of citizens and the development of leaders in heterogeneous democratic societies such as our own.

These remarks are compatible with the (neo)liberal arts college mission and diversity statements cited in the introduction: diversity is about global interests, about communities of individuals, about excellence, about productivity, about leadership. (For more discussion, see Urciuoli 2003.) Once diversity as an element of liberal arts education becomes congruent with excellence, productivity, and globalization, it takes on new value serving the interests of the unmarked. In the foregoing account given by Dávila (2008) of a Latino Studies program at a

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major private research university, she describes the inclusion of her “Contemporary Latino/a Cultures” course in the liberal arts core, targeting white students as consumers who could “learn to be multicultural” by taking the course as an easy or convenient or useful option for acquiring multicultural “skills.” Cororaton and Handler (2013) describe the tensions between Global Development Studies (GDS), a liberal arts-based concentration, and their university’s drive to market a global service-learning experience. GDS grew out of student desire for a program that would provide skills for global work in NGOs, international agencies, multinational corporations, and so on. The program was housed in the liberal arts college, and its curriculum was designed to get students to think critically about the very nature of ‘the global,’ and about themselves as actors in the world. In other words, the program was designed to introduce students on a global scale to the social and historical grounding of how people are situated in the world—not unlike, in theory, what a similarly grounded approach to diversity or multiculturalism was meant to do. At the same time, the university, driven to brand itself (as a “global university”) took a much more market-driven approach to the service-learning dimension of this program. Service learning, especially outside the United States and even more so in the global South, is assumed to be transformative in the same way that diversity is assumed to be an important element in the education of ‘non-diverse’ (socially unmarked) American students, as implied in the 1996 speech by the College president. In both, the value of liberal arts education is seen to be augmented by such experience. Like Dávila, Cororaton and Handler show globalized service-learning programs as part of the marketing projects of the institutions within which they exist, marketing that especially turns on the argument that such programs enhance the job market prospects for students who are already interpellated to present themselves as entrepreneurial bundles of skills. In her study of higher education diversity workers in Australia and the UK, Ahmed (2012) finds much the same institutional logic. Her interviewees point out the institution’s association of being a global university with diversity as added value, particularly when “associated with the skills of translating across cultures” (ibid.: 77). Her description of the figure of the global citizen as global nomad, spreading their skills across cultures, neatly summarizes the self-promotion routinely found in elite US institutions.

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Conclusion Throughout this overview of liberal arts education from the eighteenth century to the present, we have seen shifts in what liberal arts means as its interpreters link it to the dominant (white male) values of the time. Whereas emphases in the colonial and early American eras were on ‘thinking, writing, and acting well,’ religious and civic leadership, and loyalty and good citizenship, the post-Civil War era saw the expansion of the notion of leadership into the business world, an idea that has informed elite education ever since. The twentieth-century debates about what liberal arts should be in order to create future leaders continue a major through-line from nineteenth-century debates about electives: the idea that the accumulated classic wisdom of Western civilization can have a transformational effect on young minds. Challenges to that through-line are: in the mid-twentieth century, how should students be educated for the world in which they find themselves; and in the late twentieth century, should not students be learning about people in the world who are unrepresented by the accumulated wisdom of Western civilization? These debates are still around. Educators remain remarkably convinced, as they have been for at least two centuries and doubtless much longer, that what goes on in the classroom must have a predictable effect on students. Something of that causality peeps through the contemporary neoliberal version, with its liberal arts skills. But this version, which is widely espoused outside the academy, is that whatever the curricular content, what matters is the transferable skills it provides. In this version, liberal arts education provides, among its other soft (and not too narrow) skills, exposure to diversity which helps educate leaders and global citizens; at the same time, it turns the diverse into leaders—that is to say, it partly unmarks them, giving them an opportunity to become leaders and changemakers themselves, thus giving them a place in privileged spaces. To put it more bluntly, neoliberal diversity in college is crafted to fit rather than challenge existing organizational and institutional distributions of privilege and power. That is the through-line from the nineteenth-century businessman to the twenty-first century executive. This through-line leaves out the part played by student life outside the classroom, and the consequent social capital provided by students from privileged backgrounds to each other. Fraternities, eating clubs, and other forms of nineteenth-century college sociality, along with the symbolic capital accruing to the colleges themselves, did provide Harvard-educated men with good jobs in Chicago, as Henry Adams’s

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student put it. That is how fraternities and football could be explicitly promoted by Nicholas Murray Butler at Columbia in the 1920s as incubators of leadership. In the next chapter, we see the college’s marketers use general suggestions (i.e., not much about fraternities) of this social capital in their rendition of the experience of student life. In the chapters following, we get a look at the realities of that experience, and what social capital means for marked and unmarked students as it is differently acquired and experienced.

Notes   1. /#1593a83d69b0, accessed 13 November 2020.   2. Espeland and Stevens (1998: 315) describe commensuration as an “expression … of characteristics normally represented by different units according to a common metric,” a process that they consider social, and “inherently interpretive and deeply political.”   3. Specifically, Thelin points out, colonial college founders wanted to avoid what they saw as the ‘problem’ of faculty autonomy in the English system, so drew on the Scottish model of an external governing board. This allowed colleges to be legally defined as incorporated institutions.   4. College building followed early to mid-1800s railroad lines from east to west (Brubacher and Rudy 1958: 60). Even before the first New York railroad in 1826, the first four liberal arts colleges were established in central New York: Union was chartered in 1795, Hamilton in 1812, Colgate in 1819, Hobart William Smith as Geneva College in 1822, all east to west along the Mohawk River Valley and later the Erie Canal (proposed 1808, completed 1825).   5. Funding for these and other schools came from black churches which favored liberal arts, largely white northern philanthropies, which favored ‘practical’ education, and the abolitionist and integrated American Missionary Association, which supported both (Thelin 2004: 102); several black state universities were established under the 1890 Morrill Act (ibid.: 135–36).   6. There were two Morrill Acts, 1862 and 1890. They provided for states to sell certain federal land allotments which they possessed, and to use the profits to set up college programs in such “useful arts” as agriculture, mechanics, mining, and military instruction (Thelin 2004: 76).   7. See Handler 2018 on the continuing validity of Veblen’s critique, especially vis-à-vis research.   8. See Donoghue 2004 on higher education rhetoric ca. 1910, comparing Andrew Carnegie, R.T. Crane, and Clarence Birdseye to Thorstein Veblen and Upton Sinclair, and demonstrating how little the terms of the business-humanities opposition would change in the following century.

What Is Liberal Arts Education ‘For’?  ♦ 71   9. The oldest continuing fraternity was founded at Union; in fact, six fraternities started at Union at the same time that science and engineering were established in its curriculum. 10. Or skillfully satirized as Huxley College in the Marx Brothers’ 1932 Horsefeathers and as Faber College (“Knowledge is Good”) in National Lampoon’s 1978 Animal House. 11. Formalized as a sports league in 1954, the Ivy League included Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Brown, and one non-colonial school, Cornell. 12. In the 1990s, perhaps accelerated by Roger Kimball’s 1990 publication of Tenured Radicals, the terms of polarization became increasingly amplified, and hypersimplified by popular media (pop culture marketing plays an important role here). The zero-sum opposition remained strikingly lined up with humanities education. From the ‘conservative’ perspective, the terms were a unified humanities education (in which everyone gets the same moral instruction from the study of Western civilization) versus the fragmentation of special interests with no canonical literature or coherent sense of history and philosophy. From the ‘liberal’ perspective, the terms were the imposition of white patriarchal values versus curricula that represent a range of historically excluded identities and experiences. In either case, multiculturalism or, as it was called by the late 1990s, diversity, had become not only reified but had been assigned agency to the extent that it was imagined as able to destroy or save.


Marketing and Admissions Regimenting the Imagery of Markedness rrr

We now turn to the offices of Institutional Advancement and Admissions.1 Their messages about the value of a diverse community, with its numbers and pictures, are addressed to those outside the school, not just potential students and parents, but donor organizations with major resources. The messages say in effect that our values and concerns line up with yours, and your support of us benefits you as well. These messages contain elements that indicate their addressivity, elements that their addressees recognize as directed toward them (Bakhtin 1986: 95). These include the strategic, if semantically vacuous, alignment of diversity, community, and productivity. Oriented toward addressees not physically present, OIA messages work like promotional messages generally, including political messaging analyzed by Lempert and Silverstein (2012: 110–11) that uses text and images to signify shared values with constituencies who can provide resources (votes and funding). Sometimes those constituencies are buried, as LaDousa (2014) shows in his analysis of an online teaching document apparently aimed at tutors and students, but also containing a sales pitch for organizations to buy and use the tutorials to expand their client base. This work by Silverstein and Lempert and by LaDousa show the addressivity markers they analyze tied into particular chronotopes, guiding addressees to see themselves in a web of relations in a particular time, place, and storyline. Silverstein (2005: 16–17) points out the use of similar devices in marketing and political discourse—loosely specified propositional content, chains of associated ideas suggesting shared worlds of experience and value—that draw addressees into the messager’s story. Through such means, the OIA aims for addressees’ sense of their college experience as a glowing memory rekindled regularly in college reunions (alumni), or it aims for addressees who see the college as a place creating people like themselves (donors).

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Admissions aims for those who will see the college experience as a desirable future with friends yet unmet (students) or the promise of important connections and upscale employability for their children (parents). The resources that colleges receive in return are funding, tuition, and of course students who will provide the basis for further image-making and, someday, donations.

The OIA and the Semiotics of the Good Student An important linchpin in this complex of addressivity is the Good Student. However much liberal arts education is recast in neoliberal terms as a special soft skill set, elite liberal arts schools continue to exist not only because they provide what stakeholders recognize as high-end human capital but because that high-end human capital is also cultural capital linked to social and symbolic capital for students themselves. This is expected to take place in classrooms and safe, comfortable residential settings, in enjoyable extracurriculars with nice facilities, all dense with good social connections. Students and parents expect college to be an important experience, but most students (and many parents) also think they should enjoy that experience. The Good Student pulls all those qualities together in an unambiguously positive image of the college experience, and the college itself, made up of just the right text and images, sending an unambiguously positive message to its major addressees.2 Here let me clarify the difference between actual students as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and the OIA branding construct. For faculty, good students do well in class and bad students screw around. For student life administrators, good students behave themselves and bad students get in trouble. Grades, prizes, student life policies, judicial boards, and so on are all devices through which the goodness or badness of each student is managed, rewarded, or sanctioned. But the Good Student is not an actual student, even though it is constructed from pictures and texts of actual students. As the OIA deploys the construct, there can be no Bad Students. Any student shown in their messages must embody some school values. Good Students, whatever their concentration, will have careers reflecting well on the school. They are the heart of the school’s reputation. They embody not only human but cultural and symbolic capital, looking, acting, and sounding appropriate for graduates of such a school in ways that make it clear they will be successful. If the classroom alone had to supply all that, liberal arts marketing would be in sad shape.

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The College’s newsfeed highlights the activities of its Good Students. The streams of excerpts making up the newsfeed are taken from longer news stories, and include achievements by students, faculty, and staff, announcements of musical, dramatic, and artistic performances, visiting lecturers, activities by committees or programs affiliated with the college, media mentions of college-related activity or people, and faculty quoted by national media. But student achievement predominates. For example, of ten consecutive stories appearing on the college’s newsfeed from one spring semester in the 2010s, seven were about student activities: the announcement of a college choir performance, the screening of a humanitarian documentary film by a campus organization, an off-campus visit made by a class as part of its coursework, presentations of student papers at a conference, the debut of student filmmakers in the college film marathon, student delegates and their professor attending a conference on European relations, student presentations at an undergraduate conference at a nearby college, and a student winning a poster competition. Each story tells about one event or achievement, with perhaps three or four stories on a given school day. Like beads on a wire, all stories are treated as equivalent, whether an announcement of a major achievement (a student wins a prestigious fellowship, a faculty member publishes an important book) or one rather more ephemeral (a student attends a conference with a professor, a faculty member is quoted in the media). For a faculty member whose long-labored-over book gets pushed aside by the report of a poster competition, this can be frustrating, but faculty achievements are secondary, as faculty are in the newsfeed to underscore the quality of the school. Good Student activities define that quality in a way that faculty achievement cannot, because liberal arts schools are, by definition, teaching institutions that produce students, and not just institutions for faculty research. In photographs, Good Students are visibly engaged in campus activities. They come to life on college videos. They look cheerful or serious, intelligent, healthy (if occasionally not fully able-bodied), attractive, varying in body type (but rarely obese), and of course young. They look socially, sexually, and behaviorally safe. Clothing is casual but modest; suggestive clothing is rare. Students are photographed in college facilities or outdoors in sunny or festively snowy weather, with sports outfits and equipment, books, musical instruments, computers, art and science paraphernalia, all indexing campus lives filled with productive pursuit and a solid work ethic.3 Nothing visually indicates wasted time or indifference. Even pictures of students partying or

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dancing are given a community context, such as an ethnic celebration or charity work. There are no visual signs that students do unproductive (if ‘fun’) things like drink alcohol, smoke weed, or have sex. Nor are there signs of boring classes, unmet deadlines, stalled group projects, or messy faculty politics. Visually, Good Students embody self-controlled productivity, never letting a good time become a serious distraction, and capable of turning any extracurricular activity or social taste or talent or personal quality toward a productive outcome. Whereas actual students are ordinary beings, whose social identities can be messy, ambiguous, or hard for outsiders to read, Good Students project well-organized social identities, visually and textually assembled in ways that (should) lead the outside viewer to see them as representations of what a liberal arts education can be. Here is how that works. In his discussion of work done by an internet-focused ‘new economy’ branding consultancy, Moore (2003: 342) uses Peirce’s (1955) concepts of Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness4 to examine the division of labor in branding production as the firm developed its ‘brand promise.’ Firstness characterizes the construction of “the sensuous qualities of the brand” (“qualisigns”); Secondness, the identification of “source identifying indexicalities of the brand”; and Thirdness, “ensuring consistency of the brand’s qualisign characteristics and indexical associations across all channels and media” (Moore 2003: 343). As college brands are also organized around the notion of ‘brand promise,’ Moore’s division of labor is useful. A series of campus photographs accessible from the College’s home page presents elements of college life through the striking use of visual qualities. The work of talented photographers, they are characterized by interplays of light and shade, splashes of bright color, interesting angles, images sometimes crowded and sometimes left in simple patterns within a frame, variations in skin and color of student subjects, and other qualisigns (potentially meaningful qualities) that correspond to Moore’s “sensuous qualities of the brand.” These are important brand-building elements, but in the production of visual representation their meaning becomes organized in ways that specifically direct the viewer’s interpretation of them. They become semiotically complex. Visual representations may occur with or without text. Visuals without text present college life as collages that can be seen as Peircean “rhemes,” or “signs whose interpretants represent them as being icons” (Parmentier 1994: 17; interpretant being the sign’s interpretation by whoever perceives it). People see them as general, typical depictions of

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campus activities, not as pictures of specific events by specific actors in specific places and times. In pretty much all the visuals, but especially those without texts, the visual content is set up so that types of activities, arranged in vignettes, can be interpreted as bundles of qualities constituting student life. They become small tastes of the flavors of various realms of student experience (social or academic). Signs with texts may be briefly captioned or accompanied by the longer chunks of narrative typically found in the newsfeed. Such signs present to the viewer images linked together as if forming a story. We thus see Peircean Firstness (the qualisigns themselves) governed by Secondness (arrangements among qualisigns) in the production of these two varieties of icons. Secondness can also operate indexically through texts that establish a specific connection to the school, using the school’s name and/or referring to named buildings or sections of campus. These school connections are also established by references to students’ class year or concentration, or to faculty names (and sometimes their named chairs) or courses. At the same time, the production and direction of images and the establishment of connections to specific points and times in campus life are regimented by Thirdness, made subject to metasemiotic manipulation, selection, and recontextualization, the design principles for which are shared among college and university OIAs generally. The objectification of liberal arts education as a commodity comes together in this branding process, which involves the careful construction of a unified and coherent identity for the school, namely, as a school with “quality.”5 These dynamics are found throughout the higher education market. They must be. The marketing process itself discourages too much variation. The whole point is to make one’s product just distinct enough, in a range of fundamentally comparable products, to command its slice of the market.

A Brief History of College Marketing Shumar (1997: 83; 2008) dates the imagining of education as commodity to the 1970s–1980s post-Fordist era when market logic spread to all sectors of society, though, as noted earlier, many elements of higher education commodification originated in the first Gilded Age (Veblen 1918; Handler 2018, 2019). This reimagining was reinforced by concerns with falling enrollment demographics. Marketers turned their attention to making educational spaces and knowledge production more appealing to customers, designing not for individuals but for market segments. The construction of market segments was greatly

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enhanced by the rich pile of demographic data accumulated by the College Board from decades of administering its entrance exams, data which, by the 1980s, it could sell to colleges and universities (Shumar 1997: 134). The college and university rankings first published by U.S. News & World Report (USN&WR) in 1983 greatly reshaped the notion of education along the lines of commodities measured and ranked in Consumer Reports. USN&WR data director, Robert J. Morse, tells the rankings’ origin story of education as a measurable investment: The editors back then, led by Marvin L. Stone, thought the project was worth attempting because a college education is one of the most important—and most costly—investments that people ever make … So, the magazine designed a survey and sent it out to 1,308 college presidents to get their opinions of which schools offered the best education. The winners: Stanford (National Universities) and Amherst (National Liberal Arts Colleges).6

Ben Wildavsky, a former college guide editor at USN&WR, describes the origin and history of those publications as problem solvers for prospective students and parents, asserting that while ranking guides might have helped sell magazines, they also provided useful, objective information (Wildavsky 2010: 102–5). In fact, from 1983 to 1987, ranking information was, as Morse notes above, entirely based on institutional reputation, and institutional officers soon started asking USN&WR to stop publishing the guides. Instead, USN&WR reduced the reputation portion of the metric to 25 percent, using ‘objective’ measures (graduation rate, institutional resources, faculty salaries) to make up the other 75 percent. The reputation metric, drawn from “peer assessment surveys” with presidents, provosts, and deans, remained at 25 percent for some decades; at this writing, it now constitutes 20 percent of the ranking metrics.7 Despite that proportion, the function of reputation remains significant in that it frames and connects the ‘objective’ data in ways that make rankings more meaningful to consumers. Rankings quickly became social facts with which institutions became stuck, that social facticity reinforced by the establishment of a nationwide consumer base (students and parents who buy the guides), national comparison groups classifying institutions, the rapidly accelerating industries that profit by bringing those pieces together (higher education marketing agencies), and the emergence of many competing guides. All this resulted in a general notion of institutions lined up as a continuous series of products ranked from ‘best’ on down. Above

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all, it saw the emergence of a higher education branding industry that happily took on the work of designing that ‘just-enough-difference’ for each institution willing to pay the consulting fees. The governing boards of many private institutions took an active interest in moving their institutions ‘up’ in the rankings. My colleague Professor Marks, who had taught at the College since the mid-1970s and was well acquainted with the administration and the board of trustees, told me that the trustees’ concern with the college’s status as a nationally ranked institution had increased markedly by the early 1990s. As many trustees were connected to the corporate world and had benefited from the expanding profits of what Marks called the “go-go ’80s,” they were well positioned to contribute generously to projects designed to establish and enhance the College’s national reputation.8 This makeover trend was widely echoed among schools with solid regional reputations, schools whose generous trustees aimed for national reputations. Between them, Shumar (1997) and Tuchman (2009) ethnographically track over two decades of institutional transformation in their respective sites, Shumar in the 1980s and 1990s, and Tuchman from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s. During this time, the development of the college marketing and branding industry greatly accelerated. At the College, decisions were made by the trustees, president, and relevant senior staff (direct reports to the president, including business office and OIA directors) to construct and renovate buildings for a ‘student village,’ in effect a student union made up of adjacent central campus buildings. Fraternity houses were closed, bought, renovated, and converted to administrative and residential use, a move designed to address national reputation (‘party school’) concerns while increasing residential and office space.9 These decisions yielded real payoffs over time, enhancing the campus’s considerable physical charm, and attracting incoming students with ever-higher test scores, such scores being a discrete metric in the rankings. Both outcomes surely enhanced the school’s reputation, as they were designed to do, to “move the needle” as I heard one trustee put it. But when these decisions were made in the early 1990s, they were not publicly labelled as marketing. That changed as the college itself became organized in a more corporatized manner.10 In the late 1990s, the college president spoke publicly to faculty, administrators, and staff about a series of initiatives to establish national name recognition. These included curricular reforms to separate the school from its peer institutions and create a distinctive identity; diversity to strengthen community; facilities planning; reform of student substance use (especially alcohol); and a communications

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plan designed to establish national name recognition for the College. The president stressed the importance of internal consistency, of everyone sending the same message about the school’s strengths. He acknowledged that, yes, this did sound like marketing language. He outlined the use of strategic planning to implement these initiatives,11 and the use of survey input from prospective, accepted, and current students to demonstrate what practices were most effective. In short, the president outlined a plan for the College to be recognized for having what counted in the rankings. Grants obtained by the OIA from donor organizations helped bring pieces of these initiatives into being. As explained by Professor Marks, the optimal situation is for prestigious foundations (Mellon, Arthur Vining Davis, Luce, Carnegie) to solicit schools to apply for their money, especially schools that have had other grants from the same league of grant-givers, creating a mutually reinforcing system of symbolic capital that may well attract other well-placed donors. College initiatives funded in this way—a faculty position in a new academic program in a prestigious area of study, start-up money for a student residential life program comparable to those in other prestigious colleges—find space on the college website. This also helps the donor organizations, who can say that, as Marks put it, “this College trains leaders like us.” Judging from the progress made since the president’s speech, as measured by foundation grants, capital campaign fundraising, new facilities, increasingly selective admissions, and favorable student survey outcomes, the reputation enhancement strategies have been successful, even if the specifics of curricular reform have been hard to pin down and the projection of diversity has depended heavily on OIA narratives and Admissions numbers. As we cannot replay the tape of the history of late twentieth-century capitalism, we cannot say whether this speech, and who knows how many others at comparable schools, would have happened had USN&WR’s ranking system not become an unavoidable social fact. But it is very likely that aiming for their spot in the rankings led to such comparable visual and rhetorical formulation of college and university brands. Chang and Osborn analyze the USN&WR metrics as “spectacle,” as social relations mediated by imagery. They argue that USN&WR creates abstract images that stand for certain realities that are generally conceived as non-measurable according to expert conventions. The incoherence, inconsistency and assumptive leaps of this process are not merely technical errors; rather, they manifest a process central

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to the making of the USN&WR ranking enterprise: abstracting the non-measurable. (Chang and Osborn 2005: 347–48)

They further note how USN&WR justifies its rankings through Readings’ (1996) “discourse of excellence” (discussed in the previous chapter), and that USN&WR legitimizes its system by deploying expert opinion and a “technology-in-progress metaphor” (Chang and Osborne 2005: 350). As shown by Wildavsky’s assertion that the rankings provide objective information, USN&WR justifies itself “as a valuable instrument providing data to college consumers, who can never have too much data concerning their purchases” (Chang and Osborne 2005: 353). The crux of the president’s speech was the idea of the “national communication plan.” By 2000, any school that could be ranked had become concerned with national recognition, and branding had become the way to achieve that recognition, as Tuchman (2009) shows in detail. By 2010 it had become a fact of life for schools of all sizes and all places in the rankings. From the late 1990s into the 2000s, an academic literature on market forces in higher education emerged connecting branding and marketing to the corporatization of higher education (e.g., Bok 2003; Gould 2003), much of which focused on the material dimensions of commodification. Kirp notes the competition for high-end student facilities (2003: 23–24), and the “Chinese menu of courses from which to choose” (2005: 119); “Top college applicants are treated like pampered consumers whose demands must be satisfied. The notion that these are adolescents who are supposed to be formed by a college education is dismissed as quaint” (2003: 11, italics in original). Slaughter and Rhoades (2004) argue that the corporatization of higher education was not an inevitable development but the outcome of specific policies by specific networks of actors within and outside schools that effectively brought the corporate sector into the university. Students became not only customers, but a market available to be traded with corporations for product contracts (food service, bookstore, direct marketing contacts). Upon graduation, they are presentable to potential employers as “output” or “product,” a “contribution to the new economy” and to their colleges as alumni donors (ibid.: 1–2). In elite schools, the “quality and exclusive character of the brand name” (ibid.: 298) becomes associated with the focus on living, playing, and using services, contributing to the sense of college as a boutique experience. Equally important is the promotional work which, as Shumar (1997, 2008) shows, creates narratives and imagery casting educational

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spaces as consumer spaces, and restructuring knowledge production as commodity production. College marketing relies on imagery without clear or specific real-world referents: for students, ‘freedom of choice’ meant choosing among “prepackaged educational goods” (Shumar 1997: 138). Moreover, as Tuchman (2009: 21) shows, the fact of being ranked reinforces the set of institutional templates that guide the reworking of images of a school, implementing new managerial practices, centralizing administrative practices, shifting toward topdown authority, setting departments in competition for resources, and generally becoming more businesslike. With business as the desirable model, practices like strategic plans and outcomes assessments, and the rhetoric of excellence, efficiency, and best practices, all become expected, even demanded, of institutions by stakeholders in whose eyes the institution had become something new and improved. As Tuchman shows, ‘best practices’ are borrowed from comparable institutions in ways that mask market and political forces driving change in specific directions, and that put increasing emphasis on appearances, including images of students looking engaged. Education as it happens is complex and open-ended. A neoliberal regime of higher education reimagines schools and their constitutive elements as a series of objects, the same in type across all institutions, all subject to the same modes of marketing, administration, and assessment. Liberal arts education is especially vulnerable to this reimagining, given the ambiguity of its “use value.” Reimagining a college or university in such terms is key to branding it, as branding depends on a system of comparable qualities.

Branding: Making the Sausage The heyday of college branding was in the 2000s, and some of what is discussed here is no longer accessible. But during that era, it supplied the guidelines by which a great deal of higher education was reshaped. So, it is still relevant to see what the people who did it had to say about branding, what it is, how to do it, and why that works. I start with a 2003 web publication, “The Brand Called U” (probably referencing Tom Peters’ 1997 neoliberal-self blueprint “The Brand Called You”): From Education to Experience. Academic ranking is no longer the only measure of an institution’s quality of education. A university is judged in terms of its overall offering. From the curriculum and the quality of faculty to the personality of the student body and financial

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aid, today’s prospective students evaluate universities on the total experience. What students remember at the end of their college careers are the experiences that they have. The friends they make. That particular seminar on American foreign policy. A professor who made a difference. In a marketplace where university brands face the threat of being devalued with increased competition and reduced financial resources, success lies in their ability to differentiate their offerings and build or maintain a strong brand image. For example, many institutions are looking to extend their brands with study-abroad programs, distance-based learning, and active alumni networks. (Harvest Communications 2003: 2)

The author characterizes “experience” as a memory mosaic including friends, favorite classes, and teachers. Two pages later, the author describes “a key success factor” as a school’s capacity to “keep up with changing student expectations of the ‘ideal college experience,’” in order to create “a strong brand image” that sets them apart (ibid.: 4). The author describes a “brand survey” administered to “over 35 college graduates from urban, suburban and rural areas” who were asked to fit schools into the following typology of institutions: “Ivy League,” “TopTier Private,” “Public Ivies,” “Sports Schools,” and “Individualistic Schools” (ibid.: 5). The author then provides a “brand chart of the various categories of American universities and colleges we identified, and the institutions that best represent them” (ibid.: 6), with each category exemplified by two schools to show the range of associations possible. For example, the two “individualistic” schools on the brand chart are Hampshire College and Oberlin College. Hampshire is typified as “crunchy, liberal arts school, elitist, small, east coast” and Oberlin as “alternative, ultra-liberal, small, Midwest” (ibid.: 6). (The author lists as sources the above-mentioned brand survey and Princeton Review’s Best 345 Colleges for 2003.) In this model, each liberal arts college is best branded as a just-distinct-enough collage of qualities, feelings, and images that allows it enough of an edge to attract its distinct market. The next example is drawn from Stamats, a marketing company that described itself as “recognized and respected as the nation’s leading higher education integrated marketing thought leader.”12 Stamats links the notion of brand to the notion of brand promise: A brand is more than a look or a logo—it’s a collection of words, images, ideas, and emotions that comes immediately to mind when someone thinks about your institution. In short, your brand is the promise you make to stakeholders (and prospective stakeholders) that

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expresses your school’s core values. A promise that, if applied effectively, can help increase enrollment, boost giving, create awareness, and deliver relevance to the people who matter most to your school.13

Stamats promotes its agents as brand leaders who make promises to build brand equity (Sevier and Whalen 2001: 5–6). Brand promises justify premium price tags. Comparing the brand promise of a Volvo to that of a college, Sevier and Whalen state that promises are “the heart and soul of branding,” and people “are willing to pay more for them” (ibid.: 2); more precisely, “It is a promise that is valued to the degree that: Students will pay for it with tuition dollars, Donors will support it with donated dollars, Faculty and staff will commit their careers to it.” Sevier and Whalen compare MIT’s promise to provide “the best technological education in the world” or Wheaton College’s promise of a “world-class Christian education” to Volvo’s promise of safety. They thus posit as equivalent an auto manufacturer’s safety record (which is directly measurable) and the “best technological” or “world-class Christian” education (which is not). Rhetorically cloaked incommensurability is central to brand promise discourse, and demonstrates what is also called “total quality management” (TQM), the premise that product improvement grows from continual efforts of all organizational members to satisfy customers. This can be seen when Sevier and Whalen advise schools to ask: “Is this the best faculty member we can hire? Is there a better way to teach this class? Can we make it easier to register? Should we evaluate our fee structure?” (ibid.: 4) Although “best faculty” and “best way to teach” are incommensurable with “ease of registration” or “evaluating fee structure,” the TQM-based notion of brand derives its rhetorical impact from stringing together practices whose equivalence lies in their capacity to please consumers. These examples of branding guidelines illustrate brand metasemiotics as statements of what branding should be and do. They show how schools like the College establish a market identity: they cherry-pick and decontextualize bits of college life and then repackage them in collages designed to attract and please potential consumers. The elements making up these collages are all referred to as “experience” and are assembled in associations in which all elements are on an equal footing. They are taxonomized by brand type (‘party school’ or ‘crunchy granola’), the taxonomy driven by the type of student attracted and validated by a TQM-style promise to deliver satisfaction on all counts. These principles parallel those organizing the experience industry of places like Disney World and Colonial Williamsburg. Fjellman (1992)

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describes Walt Disney World “pulling meanings out of their contexts and repackaging them in bounded information packets” (ibid.: 31) in ways that direct consumers away from their own understanding and toward interpretations that work most profitably for Disney. Each piece of information is reduced to the same level as the next. The Disney corporation did not invent this technique of semiotic levelling and repackaging, but Disney effectively uses the technique to promote a sense of an enclosed world, within which it is easy to dry-clean and remythologize information (ibid.: 60), creating an encompassing sense of shared meaning and safety based on a reconfigured metanarrative. Handler and Gable (1997) analyze a similarly recontextualized packaging of information for customer satisfaction in their study of popular presentations of history at Colonial Williamsburg. Unlike Disney World, Colonial Williamsburg defines its mission as educational, but it enacts that mission (e.g., by the ways frontline tour guides are trained to interact with visitors) in ways that undercut the efforts of the education department historians to emphasize to visitors the idea of history itself as a construct. This effect is especially noticeable in the interpretation of slave history, in which “frontline” interpreters emphasize “just the facts” over other possible interpretations (ibid.: 78), an interpretive principle that justifies avoiding discussion of complex or ambiguous subjects and enhances the production of what the authors call “goodvibes” (ibid.: 225–26) reinforcing the sense of a personal experience. Both Disney World and Colonial Williamsburg make use of metasemiotic regimentation (steering visitors to interpret experience in particular ways) in the associations of elements presented to visitors. Parmentier, building on Silverstein’s (1993 and elsewhere) notion of metasemiotic regimentation of linguistic phenomena, explains the capacity of such regimentation to (explicitly or implicitly) “regulate the range of acceptable interpretants of specific segments of social semiosis” (Parmentier 1994: 128). Drawing on his own trip to Colonial Williamsburg, Parmentier notes how visitors are implicitly guided by the organization of exhibits and by the guides’ narratives toward particular patterns of social interpretation that follow taken-for-granted social hierarchies, all without being “confronted with explicit metasemiotic forms” (ibid.: 134)—that is to say, without ever being told to “think like this.” One is guided toward certain interpretations without ever being certain where the regimentation is. The regimentation of college branding applies primarily to what outsiders see. Current students may joke (as I have frequently heard them do) about the discrepancy between their own experience and the OIA’s

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marketing, but anyone associated with the school—students, faculty, administrators, and staff—can find themselves pulled into the OIA’s metasemiotic orchestration. This is especially noticeable on those occasions when the college is open to masses of visitors as on Family Weekend, Alumni Weekend, Homecoming, and Accepted Students’ Day. It also kicks in when faculty and students are appropriated into the signification process, particularly students serving as tour guides, as at least a half dozen former tour guides have told me in interviews, class discussions, and course papers. Students and faculty provide content for institutional stories produced by the OIA. Story-making is part of its charge, generating an encompassing sense of positiveness, productivity, and safety. The way the OIA puts stories together—its metanarrative principles—is like Urban’s description of the mythic process (1991: 10–18): associations of familiarity, feeling, and imagery. Like marketing discourse generally, OIA stories are thin on information content for which the OIA might be held responsible—highly formulaic, and thick with signs of belonging or “identity-structuring emblems” (Silverstein 2005: 16–17), with every image and each bit of narrative accorded equal status. When the OIA describes the College’s promises about what students will gain from their four years, every element in its bundles of images is guided along lines of association and interpretation meant to evoke and align feelings that fit the metanarrative. One might ask if it makes sense to brand higher education like coffee or cars or vacation destinations, but that would assume limits on what a commodity could be. As Agha (2011) points out, commodity formulation as a discursive process encompasses a very wide range of things, or what can be imagined as things, and in doing so it indexes the social relations involved. In other words, when that formulation happens, a commodity comes into being. And whatever is commodified will probably be branded—not that branding itself is a fixed notion. As Manning (2010: 34) puts it, “Any discussion of the semiotics of brand confronts the basic problem that there is virtually no agreement on what brand is or means.” The very notion of brand is polysemic as well as fetish-like, seeming to have magical powers. It also seems to have moral imperative: anything that can be branded should be branded, including branding the neoliberal self in ways that project a sense of inherent, unchanging qualities across any context (Gershon 2016; 2017: 23ff). Stamats’ Sevier and Whalen (2001: 1) call branding “an imperative” for higher education; it must demonstrate institutional values in market mode to be rewarded with resources: no other model

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of value counts. Manning, after Moore (2003), suggests thinking about “the various semiotic moments of brand on the model of the communicative act itself” (Manning 2010: 37). Branding, in other words, is semiotic action with (potentially) performative outcomes. Nakassis locates the performative qualities of branding in its citationality, that is, in the process of repeating ‘the same thing’ at different moments and places by different social actors, an interplay of sameness and difference that “weave(s) together different events into one complex act” (Nakassis 2013: 56). Such continual reiteration links “brand instances, or tokens, and its (materialized) qualities … and a brand identity or type, and its (immaterialized) qualities” (Nakassis 2012: 627, italics in original), each citation pointing to itself doing it. This is routine in social media like Facebook and Twitter that encourage continual repetition of (perhaps slightly varied) iterations, all pointing to themselves reposting or retweeting. The OIA uses the same principle. Its marketing activities depend heavily on repeated representations on the website. The OIA also encourages students to do so, and to point to themselves doing so, as in the OIA-maintained social media page on the college website on which students post messages about a feeling or experience or perception or greeting linked to the college. All this activity adds up to a continually repeated identification with the school, of defining elements of sameness, across a range of different representations or actions or activities. Branding a college means imagining it as a ‘thing’ instead of a changing, diffuse and sometimes conflicting set of experiences over four years at a named institution. Contemporary capitalism entails formulating ‘things’ for people to buy and pressuring people to buy them, so commodification and branding hang on ‘thinginess.’ Keane (2003) makes the Peircean point that ‘thinginess’ is emergent, that objects are semiotically contingent, open to future possibilities, limited to no one set of meaning-making processes through which that happens: people recognize things as real insofar as things become meaningful, and meaningful elements of things can always be reinterpreted.14 Nor need things be material. Thinginess emerges in specific times and places among people invested in reifying phenomena; hence the colloquial expression ‘it’s a thing.’ Branding sharpens that process. So, for example, college can seem ‘thingy’ both to those within it and outside, but that thinginess is experienced in different ways in different social time–space envelopes. As an everyday experience, a place where people work and where students attend classes and live, a college as a thing encompasses a wider and more diffuse range of experiences.

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But in the branding process, for those to whom the brand is addressed, it is more focused and more tightly defined, taking on a thinginess that seems much more aligned to how it is marketed. Judging from what students have told me, this happens when they get pulled into brand production, as when they are asked to represent the College. Otherwise, everyday college life tends to water down that focus. Once they graduate, the focus tightens up. Building on Keane, Moore (2003: 334) sees the branding process “as a particular mode of ‘objectification,’” and brands themselves as “composite entities,” “unstable conjunctions” of material ‘things’ and immaterial forms of value: “partly a thing and partly language,” with brand names representing language that “heightens its own ‘thinginess,’” and advertisements as entextualized15 representations of branded products. The branding process thus intertwines text and visuals with proper names, establishing “a name and a logo, joined to a set of regimented associations, with source-identifying indexicals” (ibid.: 339).16 The associations are key: One clear characteristic of the Brand Strategy work is the strongly associationist character of all its assumptions about consumers’ thought processes. The goal of any branding project is to establish a strong and stable set of associations in the minds and memories of consumers … the greater the number of associations in the consumer’s mind, the stronger the recall. (Moore 2003: 343)

If this works, a new ‘thing’ comes into being through the process, and that is what people buy: coffee, a car, a vacation, an education. In the uncaptioned visuals of students adorning the website, the elements making them up are bundles of Good Student qualities (attractive, active, healthy, industrious, productive, and so forth). These bundles add dimension to the largely indexical message provided by the narrative texts: where the texts lay out the temporal and spatial specifics of their activity and industry, telling the reader that student X in the picture did a presentation at Y on Z date (i.e., source-identifying indexicals), the uncaptioned and recurring visuals, often rotated as a slide show, continually reinforce the unified sense of the school as something made up of many students like X. The college logo and other local identifiers in the pictures and texts act as source-identifying indexicals linking these visuals to place: a street address, a set of buildings, a surrounding town or countryside. The metasemiotic conventions governing these associations are closely patrolled and subject

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to frequent revision in order to cultivate the most desired patterns of association and interpretation, and thus keep up the institution’s brand equity, the power of its name to command respect, loyalty, and premium pricing. Thus, in line with their charge of consistent messaging (the OIA takes regimenting Thirdness seriously!), the OIA undertook, in the early 2000s, a firm overhaul of the College’s graphic identity. The old logo was the college seal, which had appeared on college stationery, diplomas, and many other places. By 2000 it had gotten mixed with graphics and lettering of various fonts and sizes (or simply dropped) by various offices and departments. Concerned that this disorder would affect perceptions of the school, the OIA developed a new logo to help communicate a clear sense of the College’s distinct qualities and enhance its name recognition. This standardized the college name in a designated font, color, and size under a line drawing of a building detail. The college seal would only be used by the president’s office and on diplomas. A lot of work and institutional budgeting went into developing the new logo. Surveys and focus groups with students were conducted to clarify their most positive associations with the school: its lack of core courses or distribution requirements, its emphasis on writing, its opportunities for off-campus study, and its research opportunities with faculty, particularly in the sciences. The idea was to connect students’ positive associations with the school to specific elements in its graphic identity. The OIA hired a communications firm specializing in college graphic identities to produce designs and lettering, in consultation with a committee made up of the OIA director, the college editor, the Admissions director, two faculty members, one alumnus, the Athletics director, the Print Shop supervisor, and two students. A wide net was cast for institutional labor to participate in the process of production, with a college ‘team’ of over one hundred faculty members, students, alumni, and employees filling out surveys and participating in focus groups to assess associations invoked by the designs suggested by the outside firm. The goal of these procedures was to assemble a set of visual elements that would clearly and quickly invoke positive associations with selected elements of the college’s “traditional values” (particularly “oral and written communication,” long highlighted in college publications) and its (not always smooth) institutional history. The visual finally selected for the line drawing was a detail from an old, iconic, and very beautiful campus building; the same image, with slightly

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different linework, had been used in capital campaign stationery some years earlier. Since establishing the new graphic identity, the OIA has issued yearly reminders for its proper use, encoded as rules designed to eliminate interference with the official College markers, and thus to protect the source-identifying indexicality.

Fitting Diversity into the Schema In the metasemiotic regime outlined here, the Diverse Good Student is a subset of the Good Student. This is evident in the visual schema of rotating slide shows of unidentified but appealing figures and scenes, and in pictures of identified people and events. As one student who worked at the OIA told me, layout people assemble images classified as “Asian girl,” “Latino boy,” and so on. These images use conventional representations of the College’s demographic labels (White, Black, Latino, and Asian), emphasizing facial features, skin tones, and hair textures that provide contrast among otherwise similarly idealized (young, attractive, engaged, implicitly middle-class) images. Signs of diversity are thus made commensurable and interchangeable, assembled in bundles pointing not to specific students but to a type: members of the ‘diverse college community.’ Such visual ‘diversity mosaics,’ Swan (2010) argues, serve diversity managers as a strategy to contain unsettling aspects of difference. These visuals also routinely suggest a higher proportion of ‘diverse students’ than is actually on campus, as students of color routinely point out. All this illustrates the college’s 2015 website diversity statement (partially cited in the Introduction): At the College, the quality of personal interaction that takes place in our classrooms, laboratories, studios, and performance halls extends to our residences, dining halls, sporting venues, and to the casual conversations that take place whenever two or more people encounter one another. A student at the College can be grungy, geeky, athletic, gay, black, white, fashionable, artsy, nerdy, preppy, conservative—it doesn’t really matter… you can be yourself—and be respected for who you are.17

In this statement, as in the visuals, diversity appears as bundles of equally weighted personal traits, even though some are residues of historical process, some are elements of personal style, some are slangy references to various forms of talent, and some are political perspectives. What makes all these ‘the same’ is that, at the College, they equally serve students as a mode of self-performance (“be yourself”).

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This promotional semiotic is consistent with the following from “The Brand Called U”: “Diversity is much more than a ‘politically correct’ buzzword; it is a factor that many students take into consideration when choosing a university” (Harvest Communications 2003: 3), a factor that the author variously equates with race, ethnicity, geography, minority status, LGBTQ status, and “students with physical, psychological, and learning disabilities” (ibid.) as well as a diversity of intellectual and extracurricular interests: The degree to which this diversity exists on campus varies from institution to institution. Many institutions place a great deal of importance on maintaining diversity and also creating a sense of community on campus. On many campuses, diversity also extends to intellectual diversity. Colleges and universities have tried to encourage this by affiliating themselves with a wide variety of student organizations on their campuses, from different political organizations to drama troupes and environmental groups. (Harvest Communications 2003: 3)

In the end, “[r]egardless of how diversity is defined, it is clear that it is an important consideration for institutions of higher education today, and part of most university agendas for the future” (ibid.). Diversity seems to be a problem to be solved by addressing special needs and respecting unique identities; it also seems to exist in (not always easy) relation to community: “How universities and colleges deal with different minorities, anticipate and accommodate their needs and how they manage to create a sense of community, while respecting the unique identities of each minority, will be critical to their success” (ibid.). As indicated by the following paragraph that once introduced the College’s “Diversity Facts” web page and is now stored in a strategic plan web page, the community problem is recognized and solved by casting diversity as demographic distinction with the capacity to facilitate, in some vaguely transformative way, intellectual participation in a global community: The College’s student body is undergoing a purposeful transformation as we seek to achieve a demographic mirroring the coming generation of college-bound students. Our student body is increasingly diverse, and we want to continue that trend so that all our students—minority and majority alike—are prepared for citizenship in a global community. Ultimately, we want to continue fostering an intellectual atmosphere that reflects our commitment to exploring and acknowledging the significance of different ideas and perspectives. We expect the College to be transformed, even as it transforms those who come here.

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The college’s old “Diversity Academics” page (also now stored on a strategic plan web page) equates race, culture, religion, and ideology on a global scale, stringing them together with reference to community and intellectual life. Notice again that (as Harvest Communication and diversity trainers also assert) diversity as only a social issue is somehow ‘not enough’: We believe that our community will confront and engage most rewardingly with the issue of diversity when it is pursued not just as a social issue, but also as an intellectual one. Diversity expands the breadth and augments the rigor of the intellectual life of the College. Woven throughout the College’s curriculum is the study of the world’s races, cultures, religions, and ideologies.

Nothing in these paragraphs suggests diversity imagined in terms of inequality or markedness. Whether or not the OIA chooses to refer explicitly to ‘diversity,’ and their preference for ‘not’ seems to have increased in recent years, they still need those demographics and images, and they still treat students of color as interchangeable units. In a 2000 interview, the Multicultural Affairs director, Ms. Wells, described the OIA calling her office to order up black students for events involving trustees: “They will call and say, ‘we need students for—,’ and I’ll say, ‘for what?’ ‘Well, we’ve got so-and-so.’ ‘Well why are you calling us?’ You know, I try to screen it because I don’t want to subject the students to that either.18 Nor, she also told me, could she get the OIA to publicize what was meaningful to students of color. When I told this story to a meeting of black and Latino students in the late 2010s, they assured me that this was still the case (more on this in Chapter 4). The OIA routinely uses the whole student body, not only students of color, as raw material for message-crafting. But there are a lot more white students, which makes it easier for any one of them to avoid it or tune it out than it is for students of color.

Lovemarking the Brand One function of branding is the construction of use-value, filling commodities with meaning that appears, that must appear, inherent in them (Jhally 1987: 50–51). For high-end commodities, this can be done through “lovemarking,” a technique developed and named by Saatchi and Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts (2004, 2006). In lovemarking,

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consumers themselves provide labor through interactive participation with brand management—for example, through stories and feedback folded into the brand development. This enhances brand loyalty (creating not only respect and trust but love) in ways that justify premium pricing, as Apple and Starbucks are said to do: a sign, as Stamats’ Sevier and Whalen would put it, of brand leadership. In his analysis of Roberts’ concept, Foster (2007) argues that specialized consumer items (Foster’s case study is a popular detergent) emerge as stable goods from an “economy of qualities” (Callon, Méadel, and Rabeharisoa 2002), a set of conditions whereby goods as stabilized products “are defined by the characteristics attributed to them in successive qualifications and requalifications, including those enacted by consumers” (Foster 2007: 713). Engaging feedback from consumers, and casting that (semiotically regimented) feedback in the best possible light is an effective means of achieving such stabilization. Lovemarking creates use-value narratives that target the user, who provides input guided by the marketer. OIA publications use (OIAedited) narratives of student experience framed by the high-end physical environment and college-sponsored shared sociality. Alumni provide input linking their own lives to their interaction with the College on alumni weekends and class reunions, and they also contribute notes, letters, and reminiscences for the alumni magazine, all encouraging a sense of shared, connected subjectivity. All this activity is folded into the brand value, and contributes to lovemark maintenance. Lovemark maintenance work is also sought in surveys of alumni and student perceptions of the school, or solicitation of student and alumni participation in focus groups and on committees addressing some aspect of the school’s brand, such as the students who worked on the graphic identity development committee. Such contributions can also have value for the contributors, as when those student workers were able to recast their labor on the committee as a ‘skill’ listed on their resume. Their labor becomes part of their fond memory of the school because they took an active part in creating its distinctive mark. All this adds up to, as Foster put it, “brands represent(ing) the appropriation of the appropriations of branded goods by consumers” (2007: 718). That lovemark premium is the charge for access to all the meaning produced by the consumers themselves. The fact that so much of the brand meaning is produced by consumers reinforces the brand’s regime of associations, and draws attention away from the fact that the use value of liberal arts education is diffuse to begin with, and different for different users. The specifics are unimportant because the whole package adds up to

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an elite experience that most of its consumers find worth the price tag. The experience generates love, which usually generates alumni giving. There are exceptions. Students who have had the job of calling alumni for contributions say they occasionally get someone unwilling to donate due to what is typified as an effect of the school’s “liberal politics.” Such responses are striking but unusual; for the most part, the school has generous and enthusiastic alumni and trustees, including the many students I have known over the years who have done critical analyses of the branding processes.19 Website student narratives constitute an important lovemarking site. In these narratives, OIA writers draw from student-supplied comments on their college experience, creating website texts designed to be read as expressions of brand love. Career narratives, linked to the Admissions page, are especially salient here. The College’s Admissions page links to three other pages, each populated with student images and stories. These are labeled (slightly paraphrased in single quotes) as students ‘studying what they love’ (meaning there are no distribution or core course requirements); ‘being who they are’ (that is, the college as a community made up of different kinds of students); and ‘finding their future’ (getting a job after college). Put together, these reflect the construction of student college experience as a continuous path. Each emphasizes a sense of personal investment, direction, and excitement. The career narratives listed under ‘finding one’s future’ illustrate the operation of an early 2010s initiative by the College trustees, explained to me by an upper-level administrator as repositioning the career center not just as a job placement service but as a career development program capping a student life course or arc running from matriculation and first-year experience through post-college career. The structure of the page reflects this idea of an integrated life-course pointing to much more than just a job. These are Good Student narratives illustrating the liberal arts skills described in the Forbes op-ed in the last chapter. Each has the same genre structure, set up as a story about or interview with an individual student featuring some or all of the following elements: clearly defined and desired goals; the importance of the whole college experience (including classes, internships, club membership, faculty mentorships, excellent facilities, and so on); particular forms of knowledge (not limited to one’s concentration); key connections (sometimes well-known names, often alumni); qualities of student character (persevering, hardworking, willing to take risks, taking stock of one’s skills, able to manage one’s life, having a ‘passion’ for certain work, and the desire

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to do good in the world); and personal identity and background markers (place of origin, markers of distinct life experience, and, for marked students, class, race, or cultural background, even learning disabilities). Given these similarities, it seems most likely that, as graduating students get jobs, they are offered a set list of questions, probably by email, and their responses edited, written up and posted by OIA staff. Although most narratives (except those about science careers) do not highlight a direct (and perhaps too vocational seeming) connection between concentration and career, they are all organized to move from point to point in a linear way, suggesting the consecutive operation of various elements of experience resulting in knowledge, skills, and student character development leading to outcomes framed as intentional, as goals achieved. Of note are references to passion and excitement. All this points to personal branding, described by Gershon (2016, 2017: 23ff) as a performance genre that jobseekers are expected to master. Personal branding, a critical element of neoliberal agency, creates a coherence of self that balances the expectations of flexibility that might otherwise make one’s work history and skills too varied to be coherent, thus offering, as Gershon puts it, a “strategy for representing yourself as stable and legible” (2017: 57). The linearity emphasized in these narratives points to a performance of control and direction. Terms like committed, passionate, and enthusiastic, which turn up so often in these narratives and as key words in the career development training examined by Gershon (2016: 236), signify a constant personal essence to one’s potential employer. They are an assurance that one identifies not only with the job but the employer’s interest. They also reinforce the student as part of the message between the school and the employer. I am deliberately avoiding direct quotes from these narratives, even if they are at bottom OIA constructions, because they are meant to be identified with names, faces, jobs, and dates, which I think puts the students associated with them, whom I do not know, in a peculiar position for my purposes. So, I am keeping my descriptions vague. But I do wish to emphasize that these students are content providers for OIA texts, and that the texts are structured in ways that provide excellent examples of metasemiotic regimentation, guiding the website viewer’s notions of not just the students but the school. This brings us to the stories about marked students, especially those of color. I give two examples, which are typical of most. One is a young woman of color who found a media job reflecting her family’s immigrant background. The narrative highlights her leadership in student organizations related to

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that background, and describes her job as a further exploration of her background. Another young woman of color found a job with a finance firm that hires many of the college’s graduates. Her narrative highlights her neighborhood background and the possibility that her job might inspire others from that and similar neighborhoods. Where white students are more likely to link their career choice to a personal interest or childhood experience, racially or otherwise marked students tend to highlight some connection with whatever is marked in their background. Their stories thus fit the pattern of Diverse Good Students who fit the general pattern of Good Students but also have a sign of markedness that is itself productive. Hence the implication that one’s marked difference is part of one’s career path, a sign of corporate neoliberal diversity. And as we will see in the next chapter, it is very likely that these students have been interpellated to respond in this way. Tour-guiding provides another striking example of lovemarking. The job is to maximize awareness of the campus’s positive elements and to generate enthusiasm about the experience. Tour guides are face-toface brand ambassadors who bring to life key elements of the school’s brand promise: to deliver premium returns for premium pricing. Tour guides provide not only information but a ‘feel’ for the place, which, however intangible, is a crucial element of its brand equity. The job of tour-guiding is highly competitive. Tours last an hour and are scheduled to leave the Admissions office three times a day, at two-hour intervals. A guide takes a small group of visitors around campus, walking backwards while providing information and answering questions, pointing out amenities like the rock wall and the culinary variety in the dining halls. Guides are trained to observe guidelines without seeming scripted, and to know what not to wear (such as apparel with names or logos from other schools). Tour guides do their job as living embodiments of the community, as consumers who care deeply for the product and who help produce it. They strategically package information, managing the frames in which prospective students and their families perceive the qualities making up the college community. They provide information and field tricky questions in ways that cast the school as exciting, safe, diverse, and close-knit.20 Diversity information is carefully managed in college tours. One former tour guide noted that diversity is covered in tour-guide training as an item on the “list of difficult questions” (which also includes alcohol on campus), issues about which tour guides “have to come up with a way to sound positive about these things that in themselves

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aren’t very positive, especially diversity on campus,” as “anyone would be in agreement that we need to increase diversity.” Diversity arises in two ways: as a subject of discussion for any tour group, and when showing the campus to a group of prospective students of color. As to the first, my interviewee said, “the way we’re taught to answer all these difficult questions is to put a positive spin on them.” One way to do this is to describe it in terms of numbers that increase each year, thus setting forth information as progress toward a goal: “We tell them our percentages and then we say, ‘but each year it’s getting better and better.’ … And we really just talk about increasing numbers and how that’s something that we’re working towards.” This is further framed by information about student cultural organizations. “And people love that answer… it’s almost like it’s the answer they’re looking for.” Another strategy is to describe diversity’s many forms: Actually, I pulled out my manual, and … I think this was under “tough questions” or something, and that’s the one about how we answer, “is the campus diverse?” … The big thing is to play up not just racial diversity but geographical diversity, economic diversity, things like that. Because we always say, we have students here from 45 states and 35 countries, which is a lot. Not everybody is from New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut or whatever. And we also talk about economic diversity in that 60 percent of our students here receive financial aid. So more than half of our students here could not on their own afford to come here. So that’s another thing we try to play up because that’s really important too. I think people come into it, when they think of diversity, they think automatically racial. And sometimes ethnic. But there’s a lot more to that, and we try to play that up maybe because we’re slightly lacking in the other areas.

As to the second, presenting the campus to students of color is trickier. Campus visit packages used to be arranged (I do not know if they still are) for students of color every few weeks to several area campuses, college tours included. Many visitors, who were from New York high schools, would see the College as unappealingly “in the middle of nowhere.” As my tour guide informant explained: you do get different kinds of questions sometimes. Especially that they’re roaming around campus and they see all these white kids, all these white rich kids, and they’re like wow, are there any black kids on campus? Are there any Asian kids on campus? They notice it, it’s

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very noticeable. And it’s a little uncomfortable as a tour guide when you don’t notice it until you’re in that situation and you’re like, oh, yeah, I guess that’s the way they are seeing this.

Tour guides have been mostly white, as have their trainers. The combined perception of a mostly white campus in the middle of nowhere, exacerbated by seeing several similar campuses in a short time, cannot have made the experience inviting to students of color.

Reaching Out to Alumni OIA messaging to alumni plays on the experience of place. The work of the OIA and of Admissions converge in that Admissions crafts classes of future alumni to whom the OIA can say, years later, aren’t you glad you came here. To that end, the OIA nudges alumni memories toward the “goodvibes” (in Handler and Gable’s felicitous phrase) characteristic of experiences crafted to promote unambiguously self-affirming interpretations. Even the real time-and-place memories of alumni are nudged, starting shortly after graduation, toward the OIA version, helped along by participation in reunions and by class notes in the alumni magazine. Unmarked students take this as routine. Generating goodvibe memories for socially marked students is more challenging. Starting in the mid-2000s, several institutional writers and bloggers began drawing attention to relations with alumni of color, citing the growth of those alumni populations, and their untapped resources. In a 2008 conference presentation, the then-director of Emerging Constituencies at Stanford University characterized that potential donor population as future global leaders and professional community, noting fundraisers’ misunderstanding of this constituency (Taylor 2008). Similar points were made by a writer in a higher education diversity blog (Gasman 2010), who also noted the relative dearth of fundraisers of color, and fundraisers’ frequent assumptions that students of color receive but do not give. A 2001 interview with Ms. Harris, the then-director of alumni programs at the OIA, repeated these concerns: If you look at our alumni population, and you look at who participates in our events, who makes gifts to the college, who writes to us, who accesses our web page, multicultural alumni are not participating even in the numbers that they were participating in various things on campus. They simply basically drop off our radar screen. And so we’re wondering whether– how does their experience when

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they’re students here affect how they feel about this institution. We know, or we can guess, about their experiences … because if you’re satisfied as a student, you’re more likely to want to stay reconnected to the college. It’s really hard for us to go after people who were disenchanted here as students. It’s one thing if we disenchant them afterwards, like fraternity men.21 But if they had a bad experience while they were here, or they don’t think the institution supported them, or if they’re not used to thinking about how their institution supported them while they were here, it’s difficult for us to connect with them … We don’t see their numbers represented … in any of the things that we do. They don’t come back for reunions, they don’t come out to see us on the road, they don’t take volunteer roles, they don’t get into the leadership of the alumni association. It doesn’t mean we don’t try. It means we’re always looking for ways to improve representation of black and Latino, especially, alumni in various things. But it’s very hard to find people who’ll agree to do it. Often those that do are similar to, I think, black and Latino faculty who just get burned out because they’re sick of being asked to serve that role all the time.

Ms. Harris spelled out some of the issues: how development efforts focused on the ‘traditional’ (white, business-oriented, mostly male) alumni groups assumed most likely to contribute generously; the corresponding need for an ‘affinity’ specialist to support networking of ‘non-traditional’ alumni groups; the importance of persuading those groups that giving back matters; the importance of teaching the OIA that even small contributions matter, despite their tendency to measure the effectiveness of development efforts by monetary outcome— “it’s all bottom-line oriented.” And finally, “the things in our office that contribute to our rating in U.S. News & World Report, those are the areas that get resources.” Fifteen years later, Jenna, chair of the Alumni of Color Committee, part of the College Alumni Council, confirmed the continuing existence of the same problems. This interview is discussed at greater length in Chapter 5, but the main points are: alumni of color feel generally overlooked by the OIA, whose attention is focused on “white males from upper-class families”; when they were students, they found the difficulties of daily experience largely ignored by the college; and the work of trying to bring alumni of color into giving back to the college is left up to other alumni of color. She concludes, “the Administration says ‘we care about diversity,’ but I wonder why they say that and then ignore students when they say there is a problem.”

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The Work of Admissions: How to ‘Get’ Diversity In his ethnography of admissions at an elite liberal arts college, Stevens (2007) charts the role of admissions processes in reproducing the US social class order by raising the proportion of desirable applicants accepted by a college, thus indexing its Weberian status honor (ibid.: 16, 32–33), or in Bourdieu’s terms, its symbolic capital. At the same time, Admissions cannot put social status front and center; rather their personnel emphasize what prospective individual students might bring to the college community. As we have seen, how unmarked and marked prospective students perceive the school is quite different. Admissions must figure out how to find ‘diverse’ prospective students and convince them that the College is a good ‘fit’ for them while also selecting those likely to be a good fit for the College. In the selection process, Admissions personnel evaluate not applicants but applications, and from these, they must decide who would best fit their vision of the school (Stevens 2007: 21–22). Admissions personnel talk about preferred candidates in terms of what they ‘bring’ to the school—artistic talent, athletic ability, leadership, diversity. This selection process can be read in terms of product development. If OIAs at elite liberal arts colleges continually construct Good Students as their college’s product, then Admissions offices at those colleges put together—or ‘craft,’ as it is so often phrased—whole cohorts (entering classes) using a sort of Good Student template. The student population is framed as an aggregate of individuals distinguished only by abilities and achievement (including class rank) and graduation year, an illusion which, Stevens points out, particularly informs the commencement ceremony (ibid.: 250). But what they are putting together are not contingents of students so much as contingents of future alumni, or as Stevens puts it: “Parents were sent home almost as soon as they had deposited their cargo of future alumni” (ibid.: 242). Future alumni as such are not liberally educated citizens or critical thinkers, or even future employees. Future alumni reproduce the college, especially that aspect of the college that ‘gives back’ and, if generous, successful, and influential enough, can become trustees, central players in recreating the college itself. In such reproduction, the most valued student constituency will be that most fitted to the future alumni track. Stevens (2007: 176) characterizes them as the statisticians’ modal case: generally middle class, racially unmarked, academically solid, comfortable participants

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in the college’s social life, and overall, satisfied. Their recruitment, as Stevens documents in detail, depends on lengthy maintenance of extensive communication networks, and an enormous (and grueling) amount of time on the road, the whole process culminating in the complex combination of assessment and narrative that makes up the decision-making process, a job altogether more arduous than the people who do it get credit for. Yet these recruitment resources and processes are not well suited to finding students of color. Stevens points out the difficulty of retrofitting those processes to find and recruit students of color, especially when that small handful of target recruits is highly sought by peer institutions (ibid.: 166). Thus, it is not unusual for diversity recruitment to rely on students coming in through Opportunity Program or, increasingly, to be outsourced to organizations like Posse (and more recently Questbridge). Much of the tension in student life detailed in the next few chapters can be traced to the fact that Admissions’ primary job is to recruit contingents of modal case (in Stevens’ terms) or socially unmarked (in my terms) future alumni. Diverse students are sought as attractively marked versions of such alumni who ‘bring diversity’ as more modal, less marked students ‘bring’ other qualities. Every fall that I remember, the Admissions director would present faculty with the incoming class numbers for the non-white OMB categories (Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander and very occasionally Native American) plus foreign nationals, concluding with a summary of the ‘progress’ over the previous year’s numbers. The same presentation doubtless happens in comparable colleges elsewhere. In a 2000 interview with Mr. Butler, the Admissions director and Ms. LaCroix, the multicultural (now diversity) recruitment coordinator, Mr. Butler explained the benefit of multicultural recruitment for the general student body, helping attract “better students”: “I think students more and more want an institution that’s parallel to the real world to the extent possible. If everybody here looks alike, it’s not going to be of interest, it’s not going to be as good an education.” This concern, based on the same rationale as the USN&WR Diversity Index, is shared by all schools in the College’s comparison group: “I think everybody like us is trying to do the same kinds of things.” His statement was backed up with comparative data from the Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) group, data which showed most of the College’s comparison group tightly clustered around the same numbers. Ms. LaCroix noted the tension involved in translating those numbers into specific recruitment practices:

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So, it’s really complex, because some students of color don’t want to be recruited as students of color, they want to be recruited as [college] students. So, you’re always walking the fine line of how you reach out to students who would want that kind of recruitment while not offending students who won’t want that kind of recruitment … So, it’s not an easy thing to decide how you attract without offending or pigeonholing or putting students [in boxes] … they can choose between five different things and if they’re not one of those things they have to find a way to be one of those things, because those are all of the boxes that we have.

Nor are these necessarily the categories with which students later identify: Then they yell at me because they didn’t get invited to multicultural weekend, and I say you probably didn’t check anything off. [As to] students having an identity and then getting in and becoming aware of this process of being categorized, it’s interesting because you’ll have students who will write down for example Guyanese-American or something when there’s a category that would fit, but they don’t see it that way, they see it as what I am—I’m not West Indian, or from the Caribbean or Afro-Caribbean or anything like that, I’m GuyaneseAmerican, that’s what I am. And they don’t learn until later that they’re kind of expected to find one of these categories and make themselves a part of it.

The categories are unavoidable. As Ms. LaCroix put it, “those boxes pretty much come from the way the federal government does it because that’s for financial aid and all that.” But they are frustrating. As she and Mr. Butler pointed out, they are especially frustrating in that foreign nationals of color cannot check those boxes, which is why they all count as “international.” Nor is there any way to represent the presence of LGBTQ students as part of campus multiculturalism, except by highlighting the student organizations. Both spoke of multicultural students as a college resource, noting how large a proportion of them came in as ‘leaders’ who had also been active in high school student organizations. As Ms. LaCroix put it: “We have seen I think a disproportionate amount of our student leaders come out of the student of color population: these are students who come in and get involved and make things happen—that’s almost magical.” At several points, Mr. Butler talked about the educational value of a multicultural student body:

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[I think of the small-town [white] kid … who may never have had a class with a Hispanic student or what have you, and when they get here, that could be their best friend, but they don’t know they want that, so that’s part of the reason: they’ll grow, and they’re educated at a place like this.

As he saw it, desirable students come from schools that were not all white: I think it’s just obvious that you learn from people with different backgrounds, and I think to the extent that we don’t have to apologize for what we’re trying to do here. I mean it wasn’t the easiest thing. In fact, it would have been easier in some respects not to do this, because we spent a lot of money in financial aid for multicultural students. By and large their average SATs are a lot lower.

The big problem is finding these students. Most admissions recruitment is done through well-established connections with high schools in the kinds of communities that form an easy, unmarked demographic fit with the school: the world of families likely to know the school or know people who know it, who can be comfortably imagined coming to campus to take their kids to dinners and parties and tailgates. These are not generally the families of students of color. The primary recruitment mechanisms are the Opportunity Program (OP, established by the state in 1968, operating in roughly its present form at the college since 1974), Posse (privately established in 1989, the first cohort entering the college in 2001), and most recently, and after this fieldwork, Questbridge (privately established in 1987, the first cohort entering the college in 2018). These are very different programs. From 1968 to 2001, the primary recruitment mechanism for students of color was the Opportunity Program, funded by the state to provide higher education assistance to academically and economically disadvantaged students showing academic promise. Structured slightly differently for in-state and out-of-state residents, the OP offers financial packages combining grants, loans, and work-study, with some funding coming from the state, some from the college. Incoming cohorts vary in size from about fifteen to thirty. All participants attend a fiveweek summer program before fall of their first year. OP cohorts include white students, often children of college plant or clerical employees, or sports recruits—usually football, sometimes basketball. The decision to admit a student through OP takes place in the admissions process, with the discussion among Admissions staff going something like this:

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“This student may not have the strongest grades (or perhaps SATs), but s/he looks like a great potential leader”; “s/he would make a great contribution to the community” or “bring diversity to the school.” The College’s partnership with the Posse Foundation works quite differently.22 Posse applicants must be nominated early in their last year of high school for their ‘leadership potential.’ Once selected as Posseeligible, their applications go to the schools partnered with the city from which they apply. Once accepted, they become part of a cohort (or ‘posse’) going to a specific school, which covers their tuition. In return, they are charged with providing ‘campus leadership’ and acting as ‘change agents,’ reinforced in training sessions and retreats. In the next chapter, I provide a more detailed account of the Opportunity Program and Posse, including some of the contradictions between them, and between them and the school. For now, what matters is the numbers they provide for that college diversity page. Despite the substantial difference in their origins (OP emerged from 1960s policies based on the idea that the state has a public responsibility for the education and welfare of its citizens, while Posse emerged from the neoliberal social philosophy of the late 1980s), both function as recruitment tools in ways that boost the Good Student institutional profile; hence the ‘leadership’ rhetoric. Posse was designed to fit that profile, and OP has, especially since the College’s partnership with Posse, been increasingly nudged toward that representation. From the perspective of the Admissions office, the primary advantage of OP and Posse is that someone else does the recruitment work. With Posse, this is clear-cut: Posse finds the students and organizes their application process; the colleges make the admissions decisions. The situation with OP has been less clear-cut, as the first OP director, Ms. Warwick, took on a good deal of recruiting herself. She designed the College’s OP in the early-mid 1970s, soon after she came, and by the time she retired, she had accumulated decades of networks. She was an experienced recruiter but was also continually frustrated by administrators who did not take her seriously in her job. She described instances of college financial officials allocating elsewhere student support money that should have been reserved for students admitted through OP. She especially recalled difficulties with Admissions over black male athletes: getting Admissions personnel to take their potential as students seriously; having promises about specific admits made and then unmade. Above all, she was critical of the Admissions office’s incapacity to take seriously the expertise of anyone outside the Admissions office: “They don’t listen to people who have hands-on

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practical experience. They choose not to listen. They’re thinking of their next question as you are speaking.” In effect, she criticizes the practice of admitting applications instead of applicants: Let’s get past what I call the numbers racket, what your standing is and your verbal and math score or SAT score. I feel that’s only part of your credentials that you come with. What do you bring to campus? Will you give as well as take from campus? And there’s so much of the individual that is unknown to us because they choose not to look for that. And you find this out once they get here on campus, in your classroom, where they really are lacking … It’s just that they have an area of expertise and they think “I am it, for knowing my area.” But they know nothing else. And they try and put you on the defensive by only dealing with that area that they know.

She was especially critical that multicultural recruitment was administered with so little attention to the realities faced by students of color once they got to the College. To that end, she was highly critical of the late 1990s decision by the college president and Admissions director to partner with Posse, pointing out that it was driven by easy access to demographics with no consideration for what students of color admitted through OP had lived with for decades, and that Posse recruits of color would face. Ms. Warwick’s concerns about the recruitment of students of color were backed up by her colleague, Ms. Wells, the assistant dean of students and multicultural affairs director, who argued that too much emphasis was placed on attracting students to make the college look good and too little placed on providing students of color with a level playing field once they were admitted. She also expressed concern toward Admissions’ limited thinking in how best to recruit: And they act as if New York, Chicago, and Boston are the only places you can find black students, Latinos and Asians. And I have said to them for years, you need to be doing your own study. You need to be looking where there are pockets of these individuals who have had education in their histories for a long time, and they’re sending their kids everywhere to school. So, have you looked at St. Louis, at Kansas City, where you’ve got very strong old African American communities that have always been committed to education, and they’re sending their kids to the Harvards, to the Swarthmores, you know, they’d come. I even said Atlanta. I worked in Atlanta and kids would—in Atlanta, the high school kids that I worked with were going everywhere in the world. So why do we think we can’t get them here?

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Ms. Prentiss,23 who became OP director when Ms. Warwick retired, reiterated some of these points and added a few more, noting the importance of staying in touch with “people closest to our objectives” and then following up, as opposed to plans of action being generated by admissions specialists lacking experienced-based understanding of the situations from which students of color might be coming. She added, “I think that students offer viable concrete information and resources into what is successful and what is not. And somehow we have to harness that systematically.” Nor should plans of action be taken on or dropped because every other school was doing it: they needed to be followed through to completion and their success or failure understood. And finally, like Ms. Warwick, she pointed out the importance of paying attention to the applicant and not just the application, and give the applicant a chance: We’re saying, take the standards and that information, and communicate it on a level that you can reach out to everybody because you have to be able to—how’s the kid, the diamond in the rough, going to know that this is a possibility? We still have counselors, high school counselors, weed out kids for us. You don’t need to do that. We have our own mechanisms to do that. Encourage those people to apply to this place and see what happens. You don’t have to lower anything. People rise to the demands. We’re not saying compromise, we’re saying just open the door.

An even more basic recruitment problem was pointed out by Ms. Wells: too many admissions personnel were not comfortable talking to prospective students of color: A good example, it was Multicultural Weekend, it was that Monday, the kids had been to class, the kids were now showing up in [a campus reception room], so into the building are pouring forty-five black and Latino and Asian kids. Ms. LaCroix and I were greeting them. I’d been asked to do the closing remarks at the luncheon. Mr. Butler and the associate deans, the secretaries, are all in the room and all standing and talking with each other. The kids come in, and if it hadn’t been for Ms. LaCroix and I, no one was greeting them, no one was talking to them. And I have never been so angry. I came back to [the Dean of Students] and said, “if they don’t learn how to treat people, I don’t know how we’re ever going to get anybody here.” Finally [the associate dean] sat down and talked with someone, and I realized then as I analyzed that, that they are uncomfortable. They are uncomfortable having– these are just kids, Bonnie, they’re just kids!

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Conclusion As we have seen, the expanding neoliberal ideologies of the 1980s through 2000s played a crucial role in this process of higher education marketing, reinforcing assumptions that everything connected to higher education could and should be run like a business, producing commodities and services to please customers. The makeover trend that spread throughout higher education, producing the Good Student as the outcome of liberal arts education, plays out, in neoliberalized diversity, as the Diverse Good Student. If this construction, so central to liberal arts branding, were just a matter of marketing, one might be able to dismiss it as just an image, not unlike what one buys into in the marketing of high-end branded foods or personal electronics or vacations. But that is not possible. Unlike the hype for phones or cars or fancy food, higher education hype is meant to be believed in. Higher education marketing is based on a neoliberal ideology of person that people are supposed to invest in. That is the whole point to the diversity management premises advanced by the trainers cited in the Introduction. The investment that people are supposed to make is a moral investment: these are premises about how the world should be. The stories about students are meant to be understood in the ways set up by the OIA’s implicit regimentation, and the internal realities that do not support that regimentation are meant to be tuned out. With the marketing story meant to be taken as reality, the administrators who advise and counsel socially marked students, especially students of color, get no traction further up the administrative structure. The reality that they work with, and that marked students live with, is continually pushed to the side, for reasons we examine in the next three chapters.

Notes   1. Much of this chapter originally appeared as “The Semiotic Production of the Good Student: A Peircean Look at the Commodification of Liberal Arts Education,” in Signs and Society 2(1) (Spring 2014). © 2014 Semiosis Research Center at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.   2. In 2015, when I first drafted this chapter, the OIA web page stated as its charge “provid[ing] leadership and direction for how the College communicates with its various internal and external audiences … strengthening [its] visibility and identity … and ensuring consistency of messaging.” Current (2020) wording includes “we tell compelling stories.”

Marketing and Admissions  ♦ 107   3. Addressing this theme in a course paper, one student contrasted the website’s systematic visual and textual elaboration of the brand possibilities of intermural sports (among peer colleges) with the website’s brief mention of intramural (club) sports, less readily regulated by the College and valuable mainly for its ‘leadership’ potential (Emily Hull, personal communication, May 2018).   4. In Peirce’s semiotic schema, signification (the interpretation of signs, a sign being whatever people find meaningful including but not restricted to language) depends on the sign’s relation to an object (that which is signified) and to its interpretant (the mental process of interpretation). Firstness is, roughly speaking, about the sign itself as a set of qualities; Secondness about the sign in relation to an object; and Thirdness about the relation of sign, object, and interpretant. Signs may be interpreted as iconic (based on some resemblance or quality), indexical (based on a perceived connection, causality, or coexistence), or symbolic (based on a general set of conventions). For further reading see Parmentier 1994; Silverstein 1976; Peirce 1955.   5. Thanks to Richard Parmentier (p.c.) for this felicitous phrasing, which he calls a ‘veritable Peircean “First.”’   6., accessed 18 November 2020.   7., accessed 18 November 2020.   8. Having closely followed the College’s efforts to improve its place in the rankings, Marks also pointed out that the higher a school’s endowment, the easier it is to attract students from well-off families, which itself enhances reputation; he also pointed out that every school in a comparison group pursues the same strategies for enhancing reputation so that, in the end, ranking positions do not change all that much for all that long.   9. The trustees decided to close the College’s fraternity houses based on research by a consulting firm, which confirmed that many academically desirable accepted students, especially women, were choosing not to go to the College because of what they saw as fraternity domination of social life, resulting in the Admissions office having to ‘reach down’ the list of accepted students to those less highly ranked by standardized test scores, thereby reinforcing the party school image. This was an important moment in the campaign to bring student life into line with the College’s projection of itself. The fraternities, however, were furious; there were many lawsuits, and fraternity alumni donations dropped for some years. 10. This included adding “vice president” to most senior staff job titles, including, at this writing, the heads of the business office, OIA, and admissions, and the deans of faculty and students. 11. Strategic planning seems very logical to trustees, which is how the College came to adopt it; there was not really a choice. Such planning is based on the idea of a future that is better than the present. Those in the present sometimes take issue with this. When the College was working on its 2008 strategic plan, drafts were posted on the website. I gave one to my Ethnography of Communication class to discuss. Several students commented that whoever

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12. 13. 14.

15. 16. 17.


wrote it did not seem to want people like them, because the plan used terms like better, higher, increased, especially for SAT scores. And how could the plan’s authors assume that if the College did X, Y and Z, it would be ‘better’? This wording, last accessed 2013, is no longer available. Until around 2011, available at marketing.asp. For example, a baseball card bought by some kid in 1952 in a pack of Topps gum that turns out to be Mickey Mantle’s rookie card might be valued then, but it becomes valued for other reasons as a very expensive baseball collectible fifty years later. Although still the same object, it is not the same kind of ‘thing.’ Discourse disconnected from other contexts and set out as a text all by itself (Silverstein and Urban 1996). Source-identifying indexicals are elements that link visuals and text to a source – place, person, time, etc. This final sentence has not been accessible for a few years, perhaps dropped after many students of color, in a widely circulated public statement, criticized the website for trivializing race. Ms. Wells noted that, as one of the few black administrators, she was treated as black students were: “So they’ve got these agendas that have nothing to do with anything as far as I’m concerned. They’re not really committed to diversity. They just want me to show up at the luncheon.” She also suspected that such arrangements distinguished between black faculty and black administrators: Now, how they shoot themselves in the foot– Skip Gates came as commencement address speaker. And Professor Laney [who is black] was here and she says, “I know you’re invited to something,” and I said, “I haven’t gotten invited to anything,” and she said, “this is crazy, this is Skip Gates.” And I said, “I know.” Well, she went and asked the president can Ms. Wells be invited to something,” and he told her no. These were Trustee dinners, and these were, what was the other one, honorary degree dinners, and very small numbers. So, Ms. Warwick [the Opportunity Program director] of course … she goes to what she wants to go to. So, she shows up at somewhere where Skip Gates is and he comes over to her and says, “Where are all the black people?” And she says, “We weren’t invited this weekend.” So, she had a chance to talk to him. So, I was student marshal the next morning. And literally, when he came through and saw me, he got out of line, and the president’s panic-stricken, because they’re marching in. [Gates] gets out of line, he comes over, he puts his arm around me, and he says, “It’s so good to see you sister, because I was beginning to wonder where they were hiding you.”

Marketing and Admissions  ♦ 109 19. As they point out, loving the College means loving their experience of it, especially their friends. They can treasure this while being analytically critical; it really is not contradictory. But the OIA knows how to use it. 20. Thanks to Madison Malone Kircher and Maggie Whalen for these details, who explained tour-guiding as lovemarking in their 2012 semiotics seminar papers. 21. She refers to fraternity dissatisfaction at the closing of their houses and the ensuing drop in donations. 22. See, accessed 19 November 2020 for details. 23. Ms. Warwick, Ms. Wells, and Ms. Prentiss were black, as was Ms. LaCroix. It is altogether likely that their frustration with the president and the Admissions director, Mr. Butler, was exacerbated by the contrast of senior-level white men versus mid-level women administrators of color. Also, as administrators, and I think as women, of color, they had a feeling for students’ situations that I did not see in male career administrators.


The Administrative Structures of Student Life rrr

Unlike the Office of Institutional Advancement, the student and residential life administrators who report to the Dean of Students work with actual students. But as their job is to foster a college community, encouraging behaviors that support that ideal and discouraging or sanctioning behaviors that do not, they do work with models of what students can or should be. Instead of generating visuals and stories, student and residential life administrators channel (or, when necessary, rein in) what students do in a social hothouse full of stresses and pitfalls. Their offices are headed by professionals, many of whom hold master’s degrees and whose work is organized bureaucratically around different aspects of the community model, including diversity aspects. The Dean of Students oversees residential life, student health support services, student safety, diversity and inclusion, accessibility, international students, student engagement (including new student orientation, first-year programs, outdoor leadership, and student activities), residential life, off-campus/abroad study, and the chaplaincy. All these might be thought of as community design features. Listed among their resources are procedures for bias incident report, harassment and sexual misconduct, and diversity; they also maintain reports on alcohol and judicial board notices. The names and locations of these subdivisions on the organizational flow chart have shifted as the office has expanded over the last few decades. For example, what was once the title Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Multicultural Affairs expanded into Associate Dean of Students for Multicultural Affairs and Accessibility Services, which has now split into Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, and Assistant Dean for International Students and Accessibility. The process of shaping student sociality starts with pre-college group experience to promote identification with one’s class, or subset of one’s class. Except for those admitted for January enrollment (after hopefully participating in a college-approved fall program), this begins

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with first-year orientation in August. Those recruited through the Opportunity Program have a five-week on-campus program in June– July. Those recruited through Posse have a 34-week-long pre-college ‘training’, beginning in their last semester of high school. Once students are oriented, their next four years are regimented through academic requirements, housing policies, social regulations, the student disciplinary system, and other institutional elements channeling the paths to graduation. While the organizational flow chart points to how students ‘should be’ and how to get them to be that way, actual students are likely to revise elements of those blueprints to fit their own interests and habits. As Chambliss and Takacs (2014) show, how students make decisions about their future academic and social lives is often grounded in where they live and who they meet very soon after they arrive on campus, often in small, unpredictable ways. These decisions include who they make friends with, whether they join a private society, what classes they take, and what they major in. Markedness plays a strong part in this. OP and Posse bring in white students as well as students of color, but once classes start their first fall on campus, the white students fade into the general population and into pathways (some not college approved) open to unmarked students. Students of color tend to form connections among themselves, soon cutting across OP and Posse, and connecting into the Latino/a (now Latinx), black, and Asian student organizations (LSO, BSO, and ASO). Much the same rechanneling happens among other marked students, including nonwhite international students, and LGBTQ students. Which brings us to a difference between OIA diversity and student life diversity. From a student life perspective, students of color and students identifying as LGBTQ are both diverse, with places on the institutional flowchart and student organizations. But while OIA might mention LGBTQ students as part of a diverse campus community, it does not count or picture them as it does students of color. In their analysis of university diversity statements, Morrish and O’Mara (2011) argue that when higher education institutions present themselves as ‘diverse,’ they want diversity visibly embodied and easily counted, inherent and uncontroversial. Sexual orientation is widely seen as a ‘lifestyle choice,’ covert, transgressive, and politicized. Nor can schools feed sexual orientation into the corporate world as desirable inflections of neoliberal agency, as personally branded soft skill sets. Yet, however institutionally invisible they may be, LGBTQ students certainly do see

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their position in campus life in ways that critically inflect what diversity could mean, as we see in this chapter. Student life is often regimented through interpellation (Althusser 1971) as students are ‘hailed’ or addressed as certain kinds of subjects, nudged to see and present themselves in ways compatible with the interests of their interpellators. Interpellation happens unevenly across the student population. Unmarked students occupy a far wider range of positions and can be ‘hailed’ in much more varied ways. Marked students are much more likely to get hailed in relation to their identity category, as when they are being expected to speak for everyone ‘like them.’ But it can be more subtle. Neoliberal interpellation, especially when it targets people of color, urges responses that stress projects of self-development, as we saw in the career narratives in the last chapter.1 It may seem a positive thing for students of color to be interpellated as ‘leaders,’ but when that means they should take on burdensome responsibilities, that interpellation is not helpful. Yet far too often, students of color and LGBTQ students, especially young women, are expected, and expect themselves, to take on exemplary social roles, as we see in this chapter.

Engineering the Experience of Entering Students Students begin to take up their position as subjects on campus from the moment they arrive for orientation, about a week and a half before classes start. They spend their first day getting settled, with options to attend a picnic lunch, a faculty reception, presentations on various college services, an all-campus dinner, and a trivia night. The next day, all engage in a few days of off-campus “adventure,” either in nearby mountains or local exploration and service, designed to ease the transition into college and facilitate new friendships guided by helpful orientation leaders. On conclusion of these adventures, students have three days before classes meet during which they attend advising sessions and meet their academic advisors (although they will have registered for classes over the summer), attend a series of presentations about finances, health, honor code, fire safety, and peer tutoring, and are offered diversions like an open mic night, a mixer, and a concert. Orientation ends with Convocation on the afternoon before classes begin. A key moment comes with the introduction of diversity issues to the incoming student body, many of whom are white and straight, and have known few socially marked students. The orientation program

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addresses this as a problem soluble through education. Ms. Gardner, the student activities director in the 2000s, stressed the importance of careful first-year planning to get incoming students to see themselves as community members, and to respond accordingly—to become interpellated. She spoke of the importance of getting a diverse range of students to act as orientation leaders, despite the difficulty of finding students of color for the job. Diversity issues are reviewed with orientation leaders to pass on to their small groups—to clarify, as she put it, “what our expectations are for living in this type of community, and how you treat people.” This was done in affiliation with a workshop for orientation leaders by a faculty member or consultant, along with a general presentation by a well-known ‘diversity educator’ who gave the diversity lecture at the College’s orientation for close to twenty years. Ms. Gardner described this educator as engaging and comprehensive, using “every possible avenue on diversity, ageism, ableism, homophobia, racism, the whole thing. But it’s done in a very non-threatening, non-preachy way.” Having attended two presentations by this educator (who focused primarily on awareness of hidden biases), and having facilitated a discussion following one of them, I can agree with Ms. Gardner’s assessment that she is engaging and informative without being threatening. Ms. Gardner added that what constitutes diversity is not always clear: it cannot just be race, with so many differences within race; it might be cultural heritage or religion; it might not be helpful to put people in demographic boxes, though it must mean something to increase the numbers. But however diversity is defined, incoming students should learn that community membership means being accepting. She strongly advocated a first-year program to inculcate that message, along with training for everyone who deals with students. This take on programming and training for diversity in particular, and community in general, works on the assumption that people can be trained to change perspectives and behavior. It fits into a larger metadiscourse of organizational training, in which attitudes can be inculcated through a well-crafted combination of educational programming and bonding exercises, the same logic that informs soft-skills training programs (Urciuoli 2008). How well it works is hard to tell. The orientation program is designed to connect students collectively to a model of community built on morally and socially responsible personhood, and to channel relations with each other along lines compatible with that model. The counter-influence kicks in after orientation, with the ‘grassroots’ socialization of the school’s informal culture

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encountered through other new students and upperclassmen, societies, clubs, athletics, and classes. The informal sociality of the everyday soon outweighs structured community messages. Chambliss and Takacs (2014: 22–24) show through extensive student interviews how official messages promoting good campus citizenship get swamped in the ensuing resocialization that first-year students experience as they start finding their own networks. Despite the emphasis placed on faculty advising, new students tend to select courses based on quite a few other criteria, such as what they find familiar, what their dorm-mates choose, what fits the schedule they prefer (ibid.: 40ff). These conclusions are reinforced by an ethnography-based student study (Pollak 1999) comparing an official orientation program with informal introductions to college culture experienced by incoming first years. These studies, backed up by my own interviews and conversations with students over the years, show how hard it is to sustain an idealized and inculcated collectivity. Still, student life planners do their best. Orientation planning in liberal arts education has become part of a larger philosophy of student life planning known as the First Year Experience, which has grown steadily since the 1990s. It began with the University of South Carolina’s National Resource Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition, founded in 1986, and designed to aid the transition from high school to college (academically, socially, and psychologically), to establish relations among first-year students with each other and with the school, and to counteract the influence of some of the older students and of any distracting ‘party culture.’ In the 1990s and 2000s, these were largely found in major public universities to address retention issues. Since 2010, first-year programs funded by major donors have become a design feature of student life in liberal arts colleges (Urciuoli 2018a). In the mid-2010s, with major foundation support, the College developed a First Year Program with expanded administrative support, curricular development, and specialized firstyear housing, designed (especially the housing) to encourage community, class unity, and stability for incoming students.

The Work of Resident Advisors The idea that good residential oversight can positively affect student behavior is central to the work of resident advising. Each dormitory floor or small residence has one to three Resident Advisors (RAs), each receiving a room credit in compensation for a demanding job. Small

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residences include former fraternity houses, former college rentals, and private homes acquired and renovated by the college. Students are supposed to live in campus housing. They can share suites, or clusters of adjoining suites. Private society members often do so, which is an issue for RAs tasked with maintaining orderly dormitory life. The job of the RA, according to the current student handbook issued by Residential Life, is to: promote and maintain a positive residence hall community, which is conducive to academic achievement and personal growth, and respectful of the rights of all residents. By serving in the roles of peer counselor, advisor, role model, programmer, administrator and limit setter, the RA facilitates the personal, social, and academic development of residents. Under the supervision of an area director, and ultimately the Director of Residential Life, the RA is the primary facilitator of the residence hall community. Resident advisors are important informational resources and can offer students assistance in many areas of their lives, including residence hall concerns, questions about the College and personal problems. They are also responsible for bringing people together in the halls by planning social and educational activities, encouraging interaction among students, and fostering appreciation and respect among members of the campus community.

This is a pretty detailed charge. It was half as long in the 2000s when I interviewed this RA area coordinator (a member of staff who oversees resident advisors), who said of the even-then complex job description: It seems as though there’s been new components brought to the position; every year there’s been something more that’s being defined for the position. And just thinking back to some of the job descriptions that I’ve seen at other schools, it seems that there’s this need to bring in a new way of organizing, a new way of defining the role. Or, I think positions have been added to a lot because there’s new issues now to deal with, and with technology now, our RAs are required to use.

The stress this job description puts on making daily living productive contrasts rather starkly with what most students prefer to do when schoolwork and extracurriculars are done, which is to hang out. The job itself turns out to be less structured in practice (students who have worked as RAs say that one does what one can), but residential life does put a premium on ‘campus leadership’ experience (in athletics, in clubs, etc.) in RA selection, and seeks to hire as ‘diversely’ as possible. As not that many students apply, and especially not that many

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students of color, diversity ends up also being defined in terms of concentrations, activist groups, and private society memberships. As to the actual work of an RA, if one deals with minor infractions and nuisances (such as noise) one talks about ‘maintaining a healthy community.’ If one must deal with ongoing infractions, or dangerous or disruptive behavior (such as smoking in a substance-free dorm) one must talk about policy and rules. RAs are supposed to get different constituencies to at least respect each other without using intermediaries. This is a tough way to craft community, as was explained to me in a mid-2000s focus group on RA work with RAs Eric, Jeff, Courtney, and Adam. Much of their job was dispensing information about the nuts and bolts of dorm life (plumbing problems, broken furniture, etc.). Community building should be part of the job, and they told me that one can, kind of, build community with first years. Upperclassmen, however, seem to “clump together.” As Eric put it: We talked some about the difference between first-year community and upperclassmen community, and it’s easier when you’re dealing with first-year students because they’ve got to get along with somebody. Otherwise, it’s going to be miserable here. So, they’re easier to get together. If you have a program, generally those are the people who would go, or those are the people where it’s easier for you to kind of go in their room and sit down and play video games or whatever it is, versus upperclassmen who after that first year when they did that same thing, now they have their friends, they have the clumps that they belong to, they have the different social organizations or whatever it is they’re involved in. Then you have to compete with that stuff.

Community is imagined as equal participation as opposed to ‘clumps’ where relations must be negotiated. The idea of ‘clumping’, or cliques, formed around some shared private (non-community) concern came up often, as with Jeff’s example of sorority sisters who always sat together in the dining hall: “people’s loyalties … for the most part, came first to their group of friends, and then to the college, because what they cared about was people they were close with.” Private society sociality is considered quintessential clumping. Routinely typified as “alcohol culture,” the RAs saw this manifested in massive parties and a lot of breakage. As to private societies’ claims to social ideals, Adam considered them “basically being a load of crap,” with societies being “little more than drinking clubs. And I don’t really see them adding anything to the campus.” Adding to the RAs’ frustration is that

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societies can pack the student government and get around college regulations. Worst of all, parents of well-situated students can call the dean of students or even the president to circumvent disciplinary measures against their child. The RAs I have known take their jobs seriously and share the student life professional perspective: community building may be an ideal, but people should make an effort because it is an important part of one’s education. A community should be made of equally interacting individuals, not clumps sharing exclusionary identities. Each individual student should value abstractions like community and communication, respond to programming, and see the school as a network of individuals on an equal footing with each other.

The Role of OP and Posse in Student Life Despite the illusion that students of color are responsible for their own self-segregation, most clumping is done by unmarked students who see themselves as having the right to do so. Racially marked and unmarked students find the school through quite different channels, and once here move into quite different social networks. White, middle-class, straight students find most social life at the College to be pretty much congruent with what they knew at home. Many of them found the school through networks of family and family friends. They may know someone who went to the school and may know about the school’s social life from those contacts. Students from backgrounds of race/class disadvantage may never even have heard of the school until contacted by a recruiter, and the social performance that comes easily to unmarked students is much less familiar to them. Perhaps half the students of color at the College have come in through OP or Posse, the combined Posse–OP student population at any given time being about 180–200, most but not all being students of color. The program operations are worth a close look, as they are informed by contrasting aims—or, as a colleague with considerable experience in training put it, OP training is designed to have its students identify with the college, while Posse training is designed to have its students identify with Posse. OP students, in entering cohorts of 35–40, attend a five-week preparatory summer program. Until recently, this was run as a sort of boot camp, with limited outside contact and strict rules about what cannot be brought onto campus, including personal computers and cell phones. Students earn four credits toward graduation, taking courses

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in math, science, philosophy, government, and psychology, with stress on writing and oral communication. Many OP students of color, especially young women, form strong connections in the summer program, and become the core active participants and officers in the BSO, LSO, and ASO. The Posse program has students nominated for their potential as leaders and changemakers during their junior year of high school. Those selected spend thirty-four weeks, from January of their senior year into the following summer, attending weekly two-hour training meetings to aid their transition to college. They come to campus in a cohort of about ten per entering class, spending two weeks (after the OP summer program ends) working on academic preparedness with their on-campus Posse mentor. Posse also holds yearly retreats to which Posse students are asked to invite friends, many of whom are OP. Tensions can develop over notions of campus leadership played out in the cultural organizations, not to mention the fact that Posse students receive full tuition scholarships from the College whereas OP students come in with aid packages and loans. But, as both Posse and OP students point out, in the face of elite whiteness what matters is finding allies, which transcends how one was recruited and who is more of a leader. When Ms. Warwick came to the college in the 1970s as the first OP director (and probably the first-ever black administrator), she set up the summer program to help students with general study and writing skills. She had worked hands-on with thirty entering classes before retiring in the 2000s, not only recruiting likely OP students but coordinating services to provide for their needs once enrolled, services that the College never seemed to grasp, let alone provide without considerable prompting from Ms. Warwick. In an interview before her retirement, she described confidentiality issues with the writing and quantitative literacy centers that led her to seek outside tutors. She described students’ particular need for basic reading, writing and oral presentation skills to build their self-esteem. She described her frustration when students and faculty alike routinely assumed all students of color were OP, and vice versa. Most of all, she described her frustration with decisions made by Admissions, the Business Office, and the president with no regard for the effect of those decisions on people left out of the decision-making process: When decisions are made, you’re not brought in on the decision-making or the planning. I don’t know what the function of the planning committee is because they will sit down and they will plan and make

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decisions, and twenty minutes later it’s all thrown out and changed, and we’re going to do something totally different.

Especially consequential was the decision made in the late 1990s by the president and admissions director to initiate the college’s involvement with Posse. Ms. Warwick strongly criticized what she saw as their decision to boost the college’s ‘diversity numbers’ without considering the internal support structures that Posse recruits would need to deal with unfamiliar routines of college life. The same criticism was made by her close colleague Ms. Wells, the assistant dean of students and director of multicultural affairs, who observed: But the question I asked from the very beginning … and I have yet to get the answer, is that as wonderful as it sounds, what are we doing to prepare our community to accept [Posse], when we already have a program, the OP program, that has got a wonderful run here and it’s still seen as a black program.

Having expressed this concern to the college president and the admissions director, she said that they told her: It was too early to answer that question because we were just doing fact-finding. Next thing I know, we’re getting it [Posse]. Next thing I know, it’s now spring or early summer almost, the president has a meeting and invites Ms. Warwick and me to it and all the legwork has been done. I mean, it’s almost a done deal.

As Ms. Wells saw it, what the president and the admissions director, who worked closely to bring Posse to the College, wanted was for her and Ms. Warwick to sign on enthusiastically without taking part in the decision. After Ms. Warwick retired, her successor, Ms. Prentiss (who had worked with Ms. Warwick for some years before taking over) continued the same hands-on approach. In an interview early in her job tenure, she explained that because students coming in through OP have little preparation for life at the College, her job was to help them navigate the institution, including every component of their lives on campus: oversight of support services, academics, financial aid, career and personal goal-setting, living situations, and being accountable to the state: I’m not a faculty position yet I need to be aware of what faculty expect, what they do, their concerns. I’m not a staff person, because

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I have direct hands-on service that I provide for these students, and I have to be my own resources because it doesn’t fit neatly into any one corner of the institution, but actually right dead center in the middle … I collaborate between all resources and pull different components together, right through the admissions office, to ensure that the students who come here through these programs have everything available to them. That’s probably it as best I can describe it in a nutshell—a big nut!

As Ms. Prentiss had also served as a Posse mentor,2 she was able to compare OP and Posse, noting that once each incoming Posse cohort is turned over to its mentor, the mentor becomes the focus of their relationship with the college. Posse, as befits its roots in neoliberal thinking, is far more brand-oriented than is the OP, which shows in the way it organizes its students’ college lives—or, as Ms. Prentiss put it, its protocol: The Posse retreat is part of their protocol and brand so that it appears that the relationship [between the Posse organization and the students on campus] is very tight when it really is a protocol. But the most consistent and regular contact is with the mentor here on campus. So, the primary affiliation shifts to the campus.

She saw her role as Posse mentor as being much like her OP role, but with “twice the intensity” due to the Posse Foundation’s elaborate protocol. During their first and second years, each Posse cohort meets weekly, and each cohort member meets his or her mentor personally every two weeks. In addition, Posse staff visit each campus four times a year to meet students, mentors, and campus liaisons. There is also the annual weekend-long “Posse Plus” retreat on each campus, overseen by visiting Posse staff, with attendance required for all Posse students and mentors; the “Plus” is because Posse students are urged to invite non-Posse students and faculty, and many OP students are invited. By contrast, OP counseling takes place four times a year, or more if a first-year student does something that warrants counseling. Ms. Prentiss continues: But the Posse student is different in that everything in addition to the coordination of all their supportive services, you’re also obligated to insure their physical and mental well-being. So, when you’re meeting with these students, you want to understand what their issues are—personal, academic, social—and you’re looked to to help them coordinate and get to the root of those issues, as opposed to what I

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would do with an OP person. I may say (to an OP student) “well, you need to seek some counseling, go see our academic counselor.” With these [Posse] students they come to the mentor for everything … So, the student who may have trouble gets a great deal of my time. And with the regular protocol they have regular meetings that they have to follow. In addition to that, I have weekly scheduled conversations with the Posse Foundation, so you have to keep them apprised within reason of what’s going on with their students as well. So, while I may be dealing with the same types of issues for both the OP and the Posse, the intensity can be very, very deep with a Posse student.

The interpellative work that Posse puts into their recruitment is quite striking, and the thinking behind it informs their mission statement: The Posse model works for both students and college campuses, and is rooted in the belief that a small, diverse group of talented students—a Posse—carefully selected and trained, can serve as a catalyst for increased individual and community development. As the United States becomes an increasingly multicultural society, Posse believes that the leaders of this new century should reflect the country’s rich demographic mix, and that the key to a promising future for our nation rests on the ability of strong leaders from diverse backgrounds to develop consensus solutions to complex social problems. One of the primary aims of the Posse program is to train these leaders of tomorrow.3

The Posse website stresses its students’ performance of teamwork and leadership, with outcomes measured by on-campus performance, post-college graduate work, career trajectories, social mobility, awards, and other markers. As Posse sees it, the greater the measurable outcomes, the greater the amount of social change effected.4 As the OIA crafts images of the Good Student as the neoliberal product of contemporary liberal arts education, Posse crafts the image of the Diverse Changemaking Leader Student as their neoliberal product. Their various protocols are ways of interpellating the actual human beings whom they recruit to perform that ideal—hence all the micro-managing and the neoliberally saturated language. By contrast, the only place on the (much smaller) OP website that addresses program outcomes does so in terms of its effect on student lives; the only neoliberal language in the text is the words empower and choice: The success of the … Program is not in the numbers but in the lives of the students who are now empowered to make choices about their

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lives that would have been impossible without this unique partnership between the State … and its independent colleges and universities.5

I found the interpellative nature of Posse training particularly on display at the Posse Plus retreat, two of which I (partially) attended in the mid-late 2000s. Both were organized around workshop activities featuring balloons, koosh balls, paper tags, and hats. During the opening discussion and activities on the Friday evening and during the Saturday sessions, trainers would continually direct participants’ attention away from institutional structures and toward personal characteristics. On the Friday evening, students largely seemed to accept the trainers’ setting of these terms, as if trusting the trainers’ credentials over their own capacities to classify and explain. During the Saturday activities, students seemed more inclined to find their own discursive direction. The first retreat I attended (with a department colleague at the invitation of one of our students) focused on the role of students in forming a college identity, a theme developed through various activities. In one exercise, strongly reminiscent of corporate identity-building exercises, students were asked to address a series of questions about what helps or hinders formation of the College identity: what is the College identity; what have students gotten from the College; how have they been affected by the social scene; how has the College experience changed them; how has its environment encouraged personal growth and change; what pushes students toward membership in particular social groups; and finally, “What is something you’re passionate about that people don’t know about you?” Students were urged to respond in ways that focused on their experience as individuals, without raising questions about the procedures themselves. Several students in my group noted that the same questions were asked repeatedly, and in their discussion began to ignore the trainers’ ‘prompts’ in favor of their own conclusions. (My favorite example was that the college identity seemed to be something brought out for parents’ weekend.) A couple of trainers came by intermittently to reprimand us gently for not filling the time allotted for each part of the activity, or for going over that time, or for asking each other questions. We wondered, but never got to ask, what those rules meant and why they had to be observed. A colleague in another group reported the same dynamic: students quickly became more interested in talking and listening to each other than in following the required pattern. The small group discussion was followed by general discussion in which the facilitators, after again reminding us

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of the importance of sticking to the rules, asked questions focused on individuals’ direct effect on other individuals and on the ‘community’ as an aggregate of individuals: what did students learn from the discussion; what effect did they have on each other’s experience; and so on. Students occasionally started to deconstruct the premises of these questions, but there was little discursive opportunity for them to follow that up. My colleague and I wondered why students were discouraged from engaging in the kind of critical thinking that is presumably the point of a liberal arts education. The faculty attendees and the administrative liaison with Posse were not happy with the trainers’ insistence on the controlled scripts, nor could we figure out if the trainers envisioned specific outcomes to these activities. The one trainer I did ask said only that the point of the exercise was “team-building.” Although I attended these in the mid-late 2000s, Posse students and a Posse mentor in the mid-2010s told me that the pattern had not changed in their experience. What outcomes this interpellation has is unclear; more on this below.

Administering Community Diversity: Digging a Little Deeper Once one gets past the top layer of divisional heads and official College rhetoric, more complex perspectives on institutional diversity appear. This is made clear by administrators who oversee the various loci of diversity: multicultural recruitment in Admissions, Opportunity Programs, multicultural affairs and disability in the Dean of Students Office. The following interviews were done in the early-mid 2000s with next-level-down administrators, all African American except the two disability administrators. We start in the Admissions Office with the multicultural recruitment director, Ms. LaCroix, and her colleague Mr. Count, one of the associate admissions directors, who compared their own experiences as black undergraduates at a state university, managing their own social lives, with the way elite colleges manage student lives. They talked about the importance of learning to listen to students, and letting them figure out who to hang out with and decide when it gets problematic. Ms. LaCroix pointed out the “very thin line between building community and micro-managing students’ lives,” and said that for Admissions and the OIA, the hard thing is that your charge is to both show things the way they are and to show things the way you want them to be, but you

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shouldn’t expect [the college] to be perfect because—I really don’t know how to put it into words—but when you get out into society, if you have your whole college life kind of crafted, like people are inclusive and people respect you– they don’t.

It is not possible to make everything perfect. Students must learn how to deal with social issues. But, she said, at elite schools, well-off parents see themselves paying for their children’s social lives, including exposure to what they think of as diversity. They want to get what they pay for: a “perfect social life and perfect mix of races.” But as she and Mr. Count repeated, all students need to figure out at least some of the terms of social life on their own or they will not learn them. Privileged white students do not have to. As she put it: I’d like to see white kids go do a semester at, for instance, Howard, and see how tired they would find themselves at the end of the day, after spending the whole day outside their comfort zone. It’s not an administrative exercise, it’s your real life. It’s like the multicultural proposal for a diverse day spent in an experimental dorm. How would you market that to black kids? For white kids it’s diverse, for black kids it’s their life.

Mr. Count added: Yeah, like come pimp yourself. There’s a trade-off issue: affirmative action is good for whites “so long as it doesn’t affect me.” The whole idea of diversity is fine with a lot of white students so long as it’s cute, but not when it causes discomfort. At [Mr. Count’s alma mater], I didn’t feel like a minority because it was such an activist group. So, it’s not just about numbers.

Ms. Prentiss had this to say about diversity: The whole idea of diversity for me has gotten so obscured that I’m not sure. There was a time when I was studying what’s called ‘diversity’ now—then it was called ‘cultural competence,’ which I prefer. Because it speaks more truth. The principle is very simple: you don’t have to like it, you don’t have to do it, but you do have to accept that it exists.

She said that the upper-level administration speak vaguely about “bringing in diverse groups” which to her means a person of color. But what that means is complicated. The classifications are not as simple as they appear on the website: one must consider how students see

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themselves. Students classified as Latino/a are much more likely to refer to themselves by place of origin: “They say ‘I’m Guatemalan,’ ‘I’m Puerto Rican,’ ‘I’m Dominican.’” The same goes for her Asian students. And international students from Africa or the Caribbean consider themselves as foreign nationals, not African Americans. She concluded, “so it’s a very, very interesting concept now, this diversity.” What a term means in any act of reference depends on who does it when, why, and with whom.6 To Ms. Prentiss, what matters first and foremost are the identities with which students grew up, as complex and overlapping as those may be. The same point was made in an interview with Ms. Wells, starting with the umbrella nature of the then-common term multicultural: But what happens is, it begins to deny some of who they [students] think they are. And the best example I can give for that is the newly formed West Indian African Association. These are kids who have been members of LSO and BSO, and still are, but felt a real kinship with others of that Caribbean-African background that’s lost when we say, “here are these black kids.” Because they self-identify as Cuban, Guyanan, Jamaican. You know, I talk to them about what’s the home life like? It has nothing to do with the African-American experience. It is so far removed from that in many instances, so that this group has twenty-five people. And these twenty-five are still members of LSO and BSO, because they do feel a kinship. But this is an opportunity for them to say, this is more really like who we are. And that’s important. And that is a movement that, I’m finding out, is happening nationally. Because when I first came into contact with it last year, and the students showed up on my doorstep and said we want to do this new student organization, my first thought was—and I did not say this to them—was oh, no, we’re going to fragment ourselves even more. Here we go. One more group who’s too small, and the larger community doesn’t understand it all anyway … But having spent time with them, this was needed. This is how they self-identify. So then that needs to be nurtured … Now how we get, I guess, from where the points of disjuncture are—is how we get the greater community to appreciate all of this. And I don’t know how we’re going to do that.

Among other charges, the Multicultural Affairs Office provides funding and oversight for the student multicultural organizations as well as campus-wide specialty programming, as explained to me by one of Ms. Wells’s assistants, Mr. Regis:

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[For] Martin Luther King Day, we focus on a dinner that usually brings the campus together in a celebratory fashion to talk about issues of race, diversity, Martin Luther King’s legacy and life. The other half is a service commitment, a community service commitment, which we usually do the following weekend, and it usually involves going into [the nearby area] in order to do community service projects with the Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Club, and so on and so forth. So that’s one of our big initiatives; it really is a lot of planning and quite expensive.

Mr. Regis noticed that most of the communication took place within offices under the aegis of the dean of students: I think that because we are all a part of the same division, we are pretty much on key in terms of how we view diversity, and we have regular meetings, we communicate on a regular basis. I can’t say the same [about] Admissions because it kind of operates out there on its own. But the initiatives of Admissions are directly related to what we do. And it seems like we could create a better communications network.

The categories that most readily typify multiculturalism/diversity are Black, Latino/a, and Asian-American. The categories of multiculturalism/diversity that are harder to represent and less easily placed are sexual orientation, international students, and disability. Most everyone I interviewed saw LGBTQ students as part of institutional diversity, and they have been located in ‘multicultural affairs’ and in ‘diversity and inclusion’ in the student life administrative flow chart. In interviews, student life administrators have talked about the importance of representing LGBTQ students on the RA or orientation leader staff, or covering LGBTQ issues in orientation. But most of the work of representing and defining sexual orientation issues was done by the LGBTQ student organizations (on which more in the next chapter) on their own until the 2010 establishment of the diversity center, under whose aegis they have worked since. The center is also the only place on the college website where they are mentioned. International students, regarded as an academic and in some instances financial plus, are easily counted on the college’s “fast facts” page, and routinely appear on the website. They have always been institutionally overseen by the Dean of Students Office,7 their primary administrative concern being the facilitation of necessary bureaucratic procedures and provision of information, advice, and aid where

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necessary. Although I have no firm figures, a fair proportion of this group is white and English-speaking (as first or second language), so the work of contributing ‘cultural’ variety, so to speak, is done by a small selection of international students. Disability, also administered through the Dean of Students Office (until recently, under the same job title as international students), is largely invisible, consisting mostly of students with learning disabilities, scattered throughout the student population. Accessibility for the relatively few students with physical restrictions has been helped by building renovations since the mid-2000s. The associate dean in charge of disability, interviewed in the 2000s, explained: So, I guess in terms of identifying disability as a form of diversity and working with that, in my mind we do it through the student support aspect and the organizational aspect. And then also the institutional support aspect, making sure that students know they have an advocate in the Dean of Students Office, that we want to hear from them if there are concerns or issues. We want to make sure they’re getting what they need.8

Perhaps the least optimistic view of the college as a diverse community came from the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Acts) compliance officer: I think there’s a lot of institutional support in a way for both these categories, students with disabilities and students who are minorities. And yet I think a lot of it is lip service and marketing. It’s desirable to say you have a diverse community these days, wherever you are, whether it’s a work environment or business or whatever. So, I think as a college we probably want to say that we have a diverse community. Well, not really. We have foreign students, and we have multicultural students, and we have students with disabilities, and we have employees in these categories to some extent. So, I think we still have a bit of tokenism here in both groups.9

Establishing a Diversity Center: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same The question of a dedicated building had hung in the air for some years. A Black-Latino student organization had first formed in the 1970s (becoming the BSO, with a Latino/a affiliation on and off over its history), and a Latino organization (becoming the LSO) in the

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1980s. Both had used a dedicated Black and Latino cultural center, an old house used for meetings and other functions, and which even supplied a few residential spaces; however, these spaces were shut down (as were other non-dormitory on-campus residences) when the fraternity houses were closed. In the late 2000s, a student group, allied with some faculty, proposed the establishment of a multicultural center in a dedicated space. With faculty and student assembly approval, the then-dean of faculty set up a task force to look at suitable spaces in existing buildings, based on the number and size of existing student organizations that would use the space. Ms. Martín, an administrator involved in the project’s early planning stages, stressed to me the importance of establishing what she described as a dedicated safe intercultural space around which students of color could build a connection to the larger institution that would provide a sense of belonging. Herself Latina, Ms. Martín noted how easily Latino/a-related issues slipped through the filter at the college, with the ready conflation of national and racial stereotypes. She had found an intercultural space instrumental in her relationship with her alma mater, and she knew many students of color similarly felt the importance of such a space. The planning for it was triggered by an “Ethnic Night Party” (Chapter 5), which those attending found funny but which many students and faculty of color found problematic. With building plans still under discussion, college senior staff and trustees asked that the center’s administrator develop programming that would not be “divisive,” raising the question of what they meant by “divisive.” Two trustees in particular had for some years encouraged and were willing to invest in building such a center, with support from other trustees. An existing building was renovated and named for the two (though without direct reference to the building’s purpose in its name). A chief diversity officer (CDO) was hired in 2010, and he and the center’s board hired a diversity director to oversee its programming and to serve as Posse liaison. The director, Mr. Anand (interviewed in the mid-2010s), made it a point to get to know student leaders and their concerns, and to engage in what he called “heavy listening”: Students seek me out to lend a helping ear, so to say, when they are facing issues, challenges, problems on campus, often to do with microaggressions … the little pinpricks, the little– sometimes thoughtless, sometimes unintentional, sometimes intentional small

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comments or actions that people do, that stereotype folks who are historically marginalized in demeaning ways.

By and large, Mr. Anand saw his job in terms of problem-solving, much of which involved providing resources; with this, he found the college to be very generous. Nevertheless, the job could have used more staff. It was, as he put it, a ‘burnout’ job, in part because there were so few administrators of color, a proportion that has changed, not by much, only in the last few years; most are in positions pertaining to students of color. As to the faculty, Mr. Anand found little if any unifying political consciousness: In other institutions I’ve seen faculty of color and white faculty come together to form working groups to push the administration to do more about admissions, or to do more about student services. But it’s around a politically conscious set of values that says we need to work on this. Here I think people just do that work in isolation … we can have differences in approaches but if you and I share the same values, there’s ways to come to common grounds, to come to the work with a certain amount of humility. And yet … what we have is sometimes a room full of “I know how to do diversity best,” “No, I know how to do diversity best.” There’s a constant struggle to one-up in what has been created as a zero-sum game.

Throughout all these interviews runs a continuous thread linking student needs, limited staffing, administrative structural limitations, and unproductive faculty dynamics. A major point of tension was locating the position for the CDO. Moves had begun in the late 1990s to establish a CDO. Ms. Wells had (unsuccessfully) suggested to the then-president that her own position would be more effective reporting directly to the president than to the dean of students, given how much contact she had with day-to-day issues faced by students of color. The position of the CDO, who was hired as senior staff, was somewhat anomalous. Each of the college’s major divisions—OIA, Admissions, Business Office, Dean of Students Office, Dean of Faculty Office, Library and Information Technology Services—was headed by a senior staff member reporting directly to the president.10 The CDO position reported directly to the president but did not head a major college division; rather the job was a loosely defined bundle of tasks. This pattern, while not unique to the college, is not the norm either,

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as CDO positions are often (and more effectively) connected to a definite structural position. The CDO, upon his appointment, joined a group of liberal arts diversity officers who provided moral support and ideas as well as a perspective on why the position worked better at some institutions: “almost to a person they were also in charge of some other integral piece of their college,” including deans, vice presidents, and college lawyers. By contrast, after his term ended, and after the appointment of Mr. Anand as diversity center director, the CDO position itself ended for the next four years, when a new dean of students was hired and became CDO (thus, as the first CDO recommended, attaching CDO duties to a position integral to the college). It is interesting to note that of the (then) six (now seven) college divisions represented by senior staff, one represents students, and one represents faculty. The dean of faculty is also the one staff position with a limited term, and there has been frequent turnover. Senior staff make many decisions affecting college operations, which means that only a third of the decision makers represent student and faculty interests. Observations drawn from interviews and my own experience suggest that the OIA, Admissions, and Business Office heads—the positions most closely linked to the interests of the trustees—carry the most weight in decision-making. This is particularly true of the OIA. To put it another way, the decision-making process is more heavily weighted toward the mission of those divisions representing the college to external stakeholders than to the interests of those currently living on campus and taking classes, or those teaching and overseeing the lives and interests of students. Even less central are the interests of clerical or plant and maintenance staff, the people who keep day-to-day operations running—or for that matter, of administrators themselves. It is thus not surprising that much decision-making is done without consulting faculty or student life administrators, although they may be selectively sweet-talked after the fact. We saw this already in the observations made earlier in this chapter by Ms. Warwick and Ms. Wells. It is echoed in my mid-2010s interview with Professor Drake, the CDO, who noted that such decisions are made with an eye toward their effects on external stakeholders: donors, parents, and what are imagined as the least marked and potentially most generous alums or future alums. To this end, there has long been a powerful tendency to shut down, as Professor Drake put it, “anything that might not show well for the trustees or for students who might be averse to anything that smacked of diversity.” For example, Professor Drake and

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Mr. Anand met representatives of each student cultural organization and arranged for them to talk to the president and dean of students about their experiences of campus life. And while they both listened to and were moved by the students’ narratives, there was no uptake toward restructuring elements of student life to address what students routinely experience, as detailed at length in the next two chapters. At the end of his term, Professor Drake felt that little had been accomplished—that, although several trustees seemed to understand more about the problems faced by students, his fellow senior staffers remained largely unperceptive, perhaps because they seemed to have had remarkably little experience working with people of color like himself and Mr. Anand, the same concern raised years earlier by Ms. Wells (and I know strongly felt by Ms. Warwick and Ms. Prentiss). The one area where he felt he had made a dent was in hiring a diversity consulting firm for the faculty hiring process. But in terms of the needs of particular student groups, he seemed to hit a wall, as when he went to the dean of students about Muslim students’ experience of a desecrated space, and got little practical response. Control of student space is an area of some tension. The Black and Latino house mentioned above had been a safe student-controlled space. After 1995, the college took increasing control of that and other non-fraternity residential student-controlled spaces. They fitted those spaces into a master plan with greater regulation over student use of space, and always with an eye toward how those spaces looked to the outside, in effect incorporating spaces into the brand. Space control combined with maintenance issues led to decisions to demolish some college buildings and almost demolish others that were near and dear to many student and faculty hearts, including the Black and Latino house. That in the end was saved, as was another non-dormitory residential space with considerable student tradition. They were renovated around 2010 (the second one quite beautifully) and dedicated to student organizational spaces. When and how students could use them, especially the house, was much more restricted. The location for the diversity center was another old house (near the Black and Latino house) that had been used as a campus office. It was renovated, also around 2010, and repurposed to provide spaces for several cultural organizations, including the LGBTQ clubs which had had practically no space at all. Professor Drake explained: The whole idea of spacializing these minority community interests is really interesting. When I came into the center, the LGBTQ

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organization had a closet, literally a closet, that was their space. I thought, who allocated these spaces? How can you give this group literally a closet? That doesn’t make any sense … Student Life should be accommodating the LGBTQ community, and they’re not doing it. So we had to find a way of not only accommodating people but providing information—also for the broader community at the college—that allowed them to feel comfortable.

Similarly, the Women’s Center had lost their old space in one of the demolished buildings, and had since been meeting in the foyer of another building. So, the idea was to bring them in, give them proper space, put furniture in it, make it comfortable and encourage them to use that space. It took half a year to even get them to come over and use that space. They weren’t even thinking that the college was going to give them a space to use. So, all that work that’s been done with them, now they’re a viable group, they have comfortable meeting space that was never envisioned by the administration, at all. I think that’s a tremendous mistake. We have kids backing up to many of the professors in crisis mode because they didn’t have information that they needed. So just providing space and information, as support for that community, was something we did quietly. I remember the center director said one time, should we ask about this, and I said if we ask, people will say no. Let’s just do it.

The lack of actual spaces of comfort for marked students is exacerbated by the ways in which they slip through structural gaps. For example, if a student arranges for an internship through the career center (part of the OIA), expenses can be incurred that are not a problem for students from middle-class families, but a Posse or OP student may require extra financial resources. When Professor Drake supplemented those needs, he was criticized by a career center administrator for “interfering” by contacting the group with whom the student was interning to see if they could help. Over the years, Ms. LaCroix, Ms. Warwick, Ms. Prentiss, and Ms. Wells had all reported similar instances of students of limited means in situations where they needed help that middle-class students rarely had to think about. Finding helpful intermediaries who understand their situation is an ongoing problem for such vulnerable students. The structure is not accommodating, and there has never been enough staffing: two, maybe three, point persons but never quite enough. There are faculty members

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who do put themselves forward, but the problem is that some of those who do, as Professor Drake put it, don’t want to solve a problem. They want to cause problems, instrumentalizing people of color, the LGBTQ community or whoever it happens to be, that they can then hold against the college and say, “Bad College! You’re not doing anything for these students. We’re representing their needs.” But the problem is, with this structure the needs never get met. So students get more angry and more angry and more alienated because their real, basic needs are not being met.

At the same time, he notes, if faculty do not keep an eye out for these students, at least in terms of what can be done in the classroom or related academic facilities to help students, there are often no other options available for structural mediation. I have often observed, as have other faculty (including Professor Drake), how students can get pulled into positions in which they appear to be very active, such as on campus committees or performances or other activities, but they are not getting their own academic work done. This is also an area in which the OP has a better track record than does Posse. As pointed out by at least three administrators interviewed in this chapter, Posse has sometimes come up short in seeing that the students they select are adequately prepared academically. Posse training does not stress academic preparation. It stresses leadership and changemaking, which work as strategically deployable shifters for their stakeholders but do not add up to academic preparedness. OP by contrast has, since its inception, specifically sought to address academic preparedness in its summer program and tutoring program. To the extent that there is anyone in a position to provide that academic support to students it is because the OP and diversity directors, the CDO, and the multicultural affairs personnel have taken it on in addition to their own job descriptions. But as Professor Drake said, “it should be a position built into the structure to help with that transition. They don’t have that person here.” Nor are students of color the only incoming students who could use some help transitioning: white students from non-elite rural or small-town backgrounds can also experience quite a bit of social dissonance. Instead, the OIA continuously curates the presentation of anything related to diversity as an ongoing mosaic of the school rather than an actual set of issues to be dealt with. Or as Professor Drake put it, “When they’re making their films and doing stuff, it’s there, but it’s not there in anything else. It’s there with no substance.”

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Student Cultural Organizations: Race The student cultural organizations do most of the ‘diverse community’ representational work, which is a lot of unpaid work. Members learn to carry out organization business, work with a budget, deal with conflict, and keep people interested. They are a small population on a small campus, so none of this is easy. They may get so burned out by their third year that the bulk of leadership falls to first- and second-year students, usually women. Student organizations can be fluid, some lasting for years or decades, others appearing and disappearing within a few years. Some fraternities (though, as private societies, they are not really student organizations) are over 150 years old.11 Students apply to register an organization after providing a membership roster, leadership list, constitution, and organizational information. Funding is allotted through student government except for the cultural organizations overseen and funded by Student Life, including the BSO, LSO, and ASO. Until the diversity center opened, these provided much of the college’s diversity programming in the form of lectures and performances; since then, the center has done a lot of that programming directly. The job of cultural organization oversight (advising, helping manage budgets, promoting programs for theme weeks and months) has also moved to the diversity director, who now reports to the associate dean of students for diversity and inclusion, who reports to the dean of students, now also the CDO. Student organizations are classified as: club sports and outings; shared hobbies, activities, or interests; volunteer service; performance; public interests and affairs; religion and spirituality; media; and ‘culture.’ As of spring 2020 (the numbers do change from year to year), there are 242 organizations, of which 15 are classified as cultural organizations representing nation/language (Italian, Russian), non-US cultural area (Middle East, Caribbean), international students, women, LGTBQ students, and identities of color focused on but not restricted to US-based social identities. Of the latter, the primary ones are the Latinx12 Student Organization (LSO), Asian Student Organization (ASO), and Black Student Organization (BSO). Their mission descriptions vary with what an organization takes ‘culture’ to be. For the language clubs, the focus is on education and celebration. For women, LGBTQ and international students, and students of color, missions have become more serious and explicitly political than they had been. Until the mid-2010s, mission statements for student of color organizations emphasized cultural awareness, celebration, and education.

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The locution ‘educating the community,’ once widely used, now occurs rarely, but the idea remains. Current mission statements refer to “enriching campus diversity” and “engaging the campus community with ethnic diversity,” as well as “spreading awareness of issues and cultures,” and “empowering and giving voice to members,” and “social justice.” The International Student Organization (ISO) stresses cross-cultural and diversity awareness. The women’s group stresses education for social justice. The LGBTQ group stresses safety and privacy. Feminists of color stress political safe space. The BSO, LSO, and ASO also help their memberships acquire cultural, social, and symbolic capital. Much about the College that is easily accessible to unmarked students is less so for students marked in terms of race, class, and especially both. Marked and unmarked students differ in how they see and experience participation in their college social worlds, and thus differ in what the college will mean to them and for them. The most potent forms of college-related social capital do not simply derive from the school itself but from affiliations within the school. Unmarked students from privileged backgrounds start with a lot of it and acquire more through both ‘official’ and non-official school connections, the latter including private societies and friends, and alumni connections who may also be linked to family or friends. Those networks can extend years beyond college into worlds of work and marriage, as is seen in a quick flip through the “class notes” section of the alumni news: who shares whose apartment, who was at whose wedding, who met at what event, who works where. These associations enhance the symbolic capital associated with the school itself, which in turn enhances these associations. As marked students have fewer such informal connections, they depend for social and consequent symbolic capital to a greater degree on their association with the school itself. This is especially likely for women of color, men of color being more likely to make informal associations through fraternities and sports. One consequence is that the forms of interpellation that work most advantageously for students of color are those that link being black or Latina or Asian to a role such as leadership. Hence, when Posse talks about and addresses its cohorts as leaders and changemakers, those students are encouraged to present themselves in those terms, and there is some advantage in drawing and responding to such interpellation. Marked students, performing the roles allotted to them, are positioned to build symbolic capital by working out how to act and talk in institutionally valued ways within the roles imposed on them. While all students

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may learn to draw and respond to such interpellation, it matters especially to students of color. Posse and the cultural organizations give them opportunities to do so: Posse because of the continuous interaction with Posse staff and mentors throughout college; the organizations because doing organizational work means working with student life administrators.13 The following interview excerpts show some of the routine work involved in student leadership, work divided between educational and social programming. As LSO president, Lourdes described drumming up membership before the beginning of the term from lists of students self-reporting as Latino/a (provided by Admissions from application forms), and sending invitations for the first fall meetings. A lot of recruitment has grown out of the OP summer programs and Posse cohorts, as has the core of many executive boards. She and the board would decide what activities would interest us and other Latinos. And as we can see, parties are one of them. So, we plan a few of those, plus the first meeting we ask people what they want to see, and we ask for suggestions; some of them say like a camping trip, which we tried but it didn’t work. I think last year we had our first conference, we had some speakers come, and some other activities planned for that, and this year we decided to have carnival, to combine a little bit of– well, would you call it cultures? Latin cultures … from different countries? … I think it’s the same culture but different variations.

Lourdes went on to point out the centrality of food to culture, as “that’s basically what they go for.” (What culture means to students is addressed at length in the next chapter.) The club had tried to have lectures, which take work to organize and publicize, but few showed up except for the santería lecturer, who Lourdes characterized as “more exotic.” Discussions of these task structures with other club officers from the 2000s to the late 2010s confirm the similarity of leadership tasks, and how few people are available to do them.14 The class dimension is evident in that most students active in cultural organizations went to public schools. As to students of color from private schools, Lourdes thought that men were more inclined toward fraternity life, and women “have different ideas [from Lourdes and her friends] about what being Latina means.” Patricia, another executive board member, reeled off an impressive résumé of activities in her first two years, although she scaled back her last two years and took a semester abroad:

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My spring semester, first year, I became the LSO historian … Because I had been very involved, I was going to all the activities of the organization; but I was still taking more of a passive role, because I was still learning, supposedly, how everything was working, I was just taking pictures of the events. And then my sophomore year I was more active, I became the treasurer. And the way that we scheduled activities was to try to have lectures, at least one lecture per year, parties definitely because I don’t see having a Latino year without a party, because the music is very important in our culture. We have a lot of more intimate events among the members, like pajama nights, movie nights, let’s decorate the office,15 workshops like having you coming to the meetings and talk. That’s pretty much us. We try to have one major event per semester. The first semester, during the fall semester is Hispanic Celebration month—they use the term Hispanic because it’s like a national holiday or celebration. And then during the spring semester we try to have Carnival, and that we do with BSO, and it includes pretty much a party, dancing workshops, and food.

Cultural club involvement leads students to rethink what cultural identity can mean, and how to present it. Here, Rita describes the importance of the ASO for rethinking what it meant to be Filipina, an identity that had seemed stigmatizing to her in high school: A big part of my activities here at the College is based on the ASO. And I’ve gone back to Philippine culture and tried to learn as much as I could from my grandmother and my mom and my aunts and uncles … I’ve kind of grown an attachment to my Philippine culture, and a pride I’ve gotten … it’s been more of a positive type of experience and a lot of people know me through the organization … At first I didn’t want to be part of it at all because I had attached to it a stigma of– here’s a bunch of Asian people who were just strange and kind of talked. I know my first year, it was predominantly … Chinese American students who were part of the group. And I didn’t want to be part of it. But then a friend of mine who was Chinese American … dragged me to the meetings, and I would go. And we had this event that we have every year which is Asian New Year. And the president asked me if I wanted to do something, like a dance or something. I didn’t get a chance to coordinate a dance, but my mom had some stuff from home, a kimono and some Philippine clothes. And she mailed it up to me and I wore it to the event and did the fashion show and helped out with the dance and stuff like that. And I think from being part of that I felt the pride that I was referring to before that I didn’t necessarily have in elementary school or high school. Here … I felt honored to be Filipina.

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Rita’s account is striking, though not unusual, in that she frames her organizational experience in terms of identity experience shared with other students. A few young women who served as LSO officers also reported focusing their identity through organizational activities. It is possible that such identity experience is especially, though not exclusively, meaningful to young women. A more general account of organizational mission is here provided by Kevin, an ASO officer: “I think it’s just mainly about promoting Asian culture and correcting any kind of misconceptions that people might have; not necessarily educating the campus but say this is what it really is, that Asia is a huge continent, it’s not just China.” Isabel, a Posse student (unlike Lourdes, Patricia, Rita, and Kevin, who were all OP), served on the ASO executive board some years later. In her account, she cast her organizational charge in Posse terms, as a change agent and in noticeably more activist terms: We attacked so many projects this year, it was really good. [The president] and I really had visions when we first came here. We always wanted to do a lot for the club because when we got here it was just this group that served food well. Literally what they told the tour guides to say, was that they give free Chinese food every year and we were so ticked off about that … We fought a lot to bring political aspects back into it and awareness of cultural things … we tried to revise the organization’s constitution many times.

One of her key projects was a workshop on the commodification of Asian culture. Asked how she saw the college’s overall relation to the cultural organizations, she responded: “Honestly, I think Admissions sells us because we’ve become catchy when you want to sell diversity.” Leadership roles can be frustrating. Aaron described getting involved in BSO leadership his first year: And pretty much that entailed just going to the meetings and pretty much sharing ideas about ‘diversity,’ quote-unquote, at the College. And my second position while I was still a freshman was community service chair. My role in that capacity was to reach out to people in [city near the College] and pretty much ‘share our privilege.’

I asked if he was putting air quotes around ‘share our privilege,’ and if so, why? Yeah, it was actually because of the fact that the people, the individuals that reside in [that city] are no different from where I’m

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from. But at the same time, when you add the College to the equation, all of the sudden you’re elite, you know? You’re much better off. So that’s why you keep quoting things, little lines like ‘sharing your privilege.’ Actually, I’m not privileged. However, by going to the College, I’m ‘privileged,’ you know. And my role became much more of a leadership role in that I had to serve not only as a role model almost, but you had to be very proactive in that whatever you did in terms of– I would argue that the College is very limiting in terms of issues of diversity, in that there’s a framework you work within, as opposed to– you can’t offer ideas that are ‘out of the box,’ quote-unquote. So, I always had to remain optimistic at all times, in terms of the College’s claims [relating] to diversity. However, every year we admit the same amount of students of color.

Aaron’s perceptive summary foregrounds some key points: what it is like having to work within the College’s notion of diversity; how quickly one gets recruited into service; how much that service really does involve being institutionally interpellated as sharer of privilege (and below, as problem solver). Elsewhere in the interview, he talks about how quickly one becomes exhausted by the job, which both causes and is caused by recruitment to leadership in one’s first year. Tensions can arise over the cultural charge taken on by the clubs, especially as college demographics shift. Since the 1970s, when the BSO first formed as a Black and Latino club, it has reformed a couple of times as students have tried to figure out whether to be two separate and parallel groups or one combined with a separate LSO: cultural definition or united activism? Similar tensions arose over the formation of the (relatively new) West Indies organization, as David, a Latino student, describes: The BSO is headed mostly by African American females and the [West Indian organization] is headed by African and West Indian cochairs. And they think their issues and what they have to do are different, because “we’re African-American Black but you’re Black Caribbean.” So that’s become a needless squabble between these two organizations, and it’s really disgusting how blatantly prejudiced they are toward each other. They [the West Indian students] don’t understand that they’re thrown into the same group with Black in the United States.

Throughout these accounts, it is obvious how exhausting student commitment to these organizations can be. This is not restricted to the

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College. Here, a University of Virginia undergraduate tells of her experience as student leader: I ran for the position of ASU [Asian Student Union] president because I believed that I could do a better job than the two presidents before me. There were so many problems, I remember thinking, but if there have been so many ideas for change, how come UVA remained so problematic? … The answer … I decided, was apathy. If the other ASU presidents had only done their jobs in addressing it … if they had actually gotten everyone to understand the problems, then everyone would have come together, and then we really could have gone far. Where they failed, I resolved, I was going to succeed. (Nguyen 2005: 22, cited in Childs, Nguyen, and Handler 2008: 181)

So long as she showed, as one dean told her, that she was the kind of student UVA valued, who could “learn how to make good decisions, how to motivate others to work toward a common goal, and how to manage a budget” (Childs, Nguyen, and Handler 2008: 183), so long as she was willing to be interpellated as a problem solver, she retained her institutional value. Once she stopped responding as a problem solver and instead expressed frustration at administrative intransigence, administrative support diminished, as did the social capital that went with it. Although none of my College interviewees put it in quite these terms, they were in much the same position. Aaron made this clear when he talked about having to stay within the ‘box’ of the College’s notions of diversity in his leadership role. All this makes such roles exhausting. The designation ‘cultural organization’ might suggest that ‘culture’ is a given and the students running the organization need to sustain it in some way. But students are collectively inventing that culture. They recast racial markedness as culture, creating content for ‘Black,’ ‘Latino/a,’ and ‘Asian’ as campus identities. Some of this works for them: a source of pride and a connection to home, as Rita said of learning to be Filipina at the College, and as we will see in the next chapter. That sense of culture is personally meaningful. But it also projects Good Student diversity by showing the ‘skills’ of the students producing it.

Student Cultural Organizations: International Students and Sexual Orientation We now look at the cultural organization model applied to international students (who share not being American) and LGBTQ students

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(who share not being straight). As with the BSO, LSO, and ASO, we see a few students interpellated as leaders doing a lot of similar organizational work and getting burned out. How they supply cultural content is less comparable. Jean became ISO treasurer in his second year and then served as president for a year and a half (“I was president of it this year and am trying not to be president again”). He described the details of its administrative and budget processes, and the difficulties of raising the budget and getting people to attend meetings or events. International students generally come to the College with considerable class advantage, and without much pressure to unmark themselves. Maryam, also an ISO officer, started her second year as secretary and then became president. She found that while ISO members were interested in promoting ‘cultural events’ such as dinners, they were less interested in “how to fit into the community,” and avoided race issues. She wanted to find an organization that addressed what she saw as her own identity elements. She was active in the Middle Eastern Union and attended BSO and ASO meetings to understand race in the United States, and to see what it might say about her own identity. She also attended meetings of the Islamic Association, which focused primarily on religion. But as interested and active as she was, she was not interested in educating the public or in leadership. As she put it: “I never heard the word [leadership] until [I got] here … I know that’s a total résumé thing that I—see, I don’t have a résumé, so I don’t even care about this ‘leadership’ stuff … I didn’t even know if you could say ‘leadership skills,’ if there is such a thing.” Unlike black, Latino or Asian students, Maryam was in a position not to be interpellated as a leader or changemaker or otherwise a neoliberal product. And while she was curious about what race meant in the United States and what that meant for her, and while she and Jean wanted Americans to better understand their home societies, neither saw their role in terms of serving up an unmarked version of their ‘culture.’ The student facilitators who headed up the LGBTQ organization were particularly overcommitted. Karen, who headed the LGBTQ and the Native American (and sometimes other) organizations, started serving as LGBTQ coordinator in the second semester of her first year, replacing older coordinators who were, as she put it, ‘burnt out,’ and then doing it again in her fourth year. She managed organizational budgets and programming, including the annual Celebrate Sexuality Week. She was also active in the Women’s Center and in the antiracism and prejudice coalition her first year, adding a few

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more activities her second. I asked if this pattern was common and she said, “It’s always the same people who are in six or seven different things, and it’s usually the same few,” which, while exhausting, at least meant those organizations knew each other’s activities. Otherwise “you aren’t working with people who you know really well and who you can co-sponsor things with, and you don’t know on the other activist-type fronts what exactly is going down … [or] give the support that both organizations need to function.” On the other hand, she pointed out, more involvement means more meetings. She noted problems growing from organizational bureaucratization of student activity, including spatial allotments decided unilaterally by the Business Office and inequitable funding across organizations (which have long vexed all cultural organizations). Funding was complicated by the fact that the student government board responsible for delegating all organizational funding at that time consisted of “six white boys.” Joseph, Karen’s fellow LGBTQ coordinator, elaborates: One of the biggest debates that I was involved in during my years here was whether or not multicultural organizations were given special privileges by being funded through the Multicultural Affairs Office, and whether or not in fact they should be included on the Student Assembly budget. Because the Student Assembly budget is for the wider community and if our programming is for the wider community, then it makes sense that our funding should be coming from Student Assembly … let’s look at the people who are on your budget committee, and then can we talk about what exactly do [our organizations] do.

Karen argued that money allotted for LGBTQ programming had to cover more ground than the same money for, as she put it, a white, hypermasculinist and very straight organization, and she compared her and Joseph’s task to the “amazing amount of stuff on campus” done by the ISO on a very small budget. Robert, an LGBTQ member also involved in multiple cultural organizations, reflects on what Karen described as “the same people in six or seven different things”: So, I think one reason [the LGBTQ organization] divvies us up in so many ways is because it’s constantly seeking allies, because it’s … at the bottom of the social culture. So, you’re the one going ‘oh come on, let’s work together’ because you have a vested interest in that … they’re legitimizing you … that’s one of the reasons why [we] get split

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up a lot, because it has this marginal status. So, its members try to be involved in a whole slew of things.

He also describes what he sees as the pressure on LGBTQ students to participate, and the club’s “insane” mission to do “social, educational, and political” work with only a dozen members, “all split in a million different ways”: We have this huge broad mission. We’re supposed to educate the campus first of all, provide social opportunities for queer students, we’re supposed to inform students of what queer issues are about or what queer culture’s about, all these huge, huge issues. And there are constant battles within the organization, with some people going like, well, I don’t think we’re being political enough, we’re too busy throwing parties and we’re too busy trying to integrate into the social framework of the college … And other people are like, we don’t do enough for our members, we need to have more organizations, right, for queer students? … And some students are like, well we should do trips to other colleges and see what other organizations are doing.

Robert personally sees value in combining a social and political approach. What he would like to see is less scattered energy: “I’m like how many directions do I have to go in at once?” So, you have all these responsibilities, not least of which is your academic work which frankly at some point you have to do. Most of my last semester I had meetings or class or was doing work from about 8 [in the morning] to 11 o’clock at night, and then I began my homework at 11 at night and went to about 2 or 3 in the morning and then went to bed for 4 hours and woke up at 8, and do it all over again for like months. I had no social life. I’m trying to cut back because I can’t do it anymore; I’ve learned my limit, you know… There’s this sense that you’re valued by your productivity, right? So, the student who just goes to classes and doesn’t get involved in extracurriculars is somehow less of a person, less valuable—to the college, they’re less valuable, right? Because they’re not participating in the social climate and making things better.

Robert could not state more clearly the neoliberal agency bind into which socially marked students get interpellated as leaders, and the symbolic capital riding on their performance. Nor could it be clearer how much the marked are expected to project their value to the unmarked. Given how few people take this on, it might be useful to think

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of cultural organizations less as organizations and more as tightly organized networks of very committed students.

Conclusion These administrative positions and student organizations should, ideally, provide space and resources without giving the people in charge of them a never-ending task. Perhaps this is what happens when marked studenthood is valued for what it ‘brings’ in return for the school bestowing its resources on them, and when marked students are continually interpellated toward that end. Unmarked students have so many more options for gathering symbolic capital outside the official institutional purview than do marked students. The options open to marked students mostly rearrange the dynamics through which markedness is maintained. In the next chapter we will see in greater detail the consequences of this in marked students’ daily experience.

Notes   1. Allan (2013) illustrates this in her analyses of narratives by Toronto immigrant job seekers.   2. Posse has no directors in its partner institutions because institutional operations, including mentoring and retreats, are directed by the Posse regional office. Rather, Posse has liaisons in each partner institution.   3., accessed 22 November 2020.   4. See, e.g., 2016_pages.pdf, accessed 22 November 2020.   5., accessed 22 November 2020.   6. In other words, denotation does not exist apart from language as social process, a point insightfully elaborated by Agha (2007a: 124).   7. Currently by the assistant dean for international students and accessibility, which split off in the mid-late 2010s from the title “associate dean of students for multicultural affairs and accessibility services,” with “multicultural affairs” having become “diversity and inclusion.”  8. There was also, briefly, a Disability Action Group but it ended when its organizers graduated.  9. She also asks why consideration of diversity is generally limited to students and faculty: “We’re appalling in our hiring of staff and administration positions.” The answer might be that they do not figure into marketing. 10. This situation has changed. At this writing there are seven division heads (all vice presidents), the OIA having split into two. The dean of students is now CDO. Six of the seven are women, and one is a woman of color.

The Administrative Structures of Student Life  ♦ 145 11. Although they are private societies, fraternities and sororities are listed as “Greek organizations” with other student organizations on the student activities website. This springs from long-term efforts by the Dean of Students Office to bring private society life into conformity with college social rules. More on this in Chapter 5. 12. The term Latinx replaced Latino/a in organizational usage in the mid-2010s. 13. This resembles what Carr, in her ethnography of a different kind of institution, calls “anticipatory interpellation” (Carr 2010b: 153–54). Speakers in disadvantageous institutional roles can claim some agency through their use of the language prescribed for those roles, by having authoritative figures address them in ways that allow them to respond using that institutionally limited language to their advantage, maximizing their institutional agency. 14. Of the cultural organizations listed in 2020, the highest membership number reported on their web pages was eleven. Except for a few ‘Greek’ organizations and club sports groups, this is about the same for all the non-cultural organizations as well. The pattern for some years has seemed to be many organizations, but smallish memberships. 15. This was when the LSO and BSO still had full use of the Black and Latino house.


Turning Markedness into Culture rrr

Every now and then, students remind the college what markedness feels like.1 In the mid-2010s, several students formed what they called the Collective (pseudonym) to focus campus attention on their routine experiences of inequalities, especially race. Without identifying themselves individually, they organized campus marches, published a list of ten concerns and two demands, and established a blog describing incidents and microaggressions. Their blog narratives made clear the many ways in which they saw themselves judged, as straight white students rarely are. In this chapter, we see how students in their position experience, perceive, and analyze markedness in their everyday lives. We also see how they can recast race as culture, even while experiencing its inequalities. It is easy to conflate what they are doing with the facile phrase cultural diversity found on the website (and as we will see in Chapter 6, in faculty talk of educational goals). But cultural diversity does not begin to convey what students who provide it put up with. Class and race as lived conditions cannot be reduced to labels or checked boxes. Class is especially hard to pin down. In Class and Campus Life, Lee (2016) describes the experience of lower income and working-class students recruited as “scholarship girls” at “Linden College,” a liberal arts women’s college. From their arrival, they are told they belong to the Linden community—“we’re all different and all the same”—in much the same way as community membership is described by the College and its peers. Scholarship girls at Linden are quite aware of unnamed differences in belonging, and that their function is to provide class diversity without naming class. That message is conveyed when they hear about developing good taste or writing thank you notes for what the school has done for them, in what Lee calls a semiotics of class morality. Nor is this restricted to Linden: students on aid at the College told me they too were urged by the OIA to write thank-you notes to benefactors. Students thus interpellated get

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the message that they are expected to show they belong in ways that the better off need not. Unless unmarked college students have some motive to perceive difference in terms of structure, the chances are they will not, as Chase (2010) shows in her study of urban university students talking about difference. While student social justice activists highlight structural distinctions and inequality, and the need for change, most of the student population takes for granted a sameness among all students, with differences in race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and political views simply marking different varieties of otherwise similar people. In the latter “abstract inclusion” discourse, unmarked students tune out reference to structural inequalities in the social spaces they occupy, whereas marked students see those same spaces as pervasively white. In their study of black students’ college experience, Feagin, Vera and Imani (1996) show the same pattern. Torres (2009), in research at a school much like the College, analyzes black students’ experience of race/class ‘cultural style’ differences (and concomitant cultural shock) that mark differences in the cultural capital they bring to their college experience. The students interviewed by Torres and by me gave very similar responses. Ethnographic accounts of student experiences of race and class are also provided in the collection edited by Lee and LaDousa (2014b), particularly by Jack (2014) and Hurst and Warnock (2014). To get back to the students in this chapter, their sense of culture is, on the one hand, a sense of connection that they value for themselves and, on the other hand, something that they willingly provide the school and that they see in structural terms, even if the rest of the school, like the modern institution it is, does not. In “Culture in Spaces of No Culture,” Gershon and Taylor (2008) argue that modern institutions see themselves as acultural, making culture a value-added quality obtained from cultural providers. How does this happen? Examining the process of what he calls ethnolinguistic recognition, Silverstein posits a ‘topmost’ position of secure unmarkedness from which hierarchic relations move out and down, creating spaces within which social actors come to see themselves as bounded groups. That secure topmost position, where whiteness is generated, is reinforced by its capacity to have those who are socially (ethnically or racially) marked become cultural providers in assigned spaces, in “sociocultural scheduling of emblematic identity displays” (Silverstein 2003b: 538). Providing value to an institution through such identity displays is a lot of work: enacting cultural content through performances and programming, ‘educating the community,’ representing diversity on

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college committees. Urging marked students to take this on lets the unmarked avoid learning how markedness really works.

What Labels Mean to the Labeled I start by looking at how students give meaning to what they are labeled. When I began this study in the mid-1990s, multicultural was more widely used than diverse, fading (though not entirely) through the 2000s. Hispanic and Latino/a were just about to be no longer interchangeable; Latino/a dominated from the late 1990s through the mid-2010s, when Latinx found its way into student usage and the student-generated website description of the LSO. Black and African American were always both contested and interchanged. Asian always seemed in use. I asked students when they first encountered these terms (except for Latinx, as explained shortly), what the terms meant to them, which ones they valued, and why. In the following interview excerpts (in which I briefly mention their family background, most having grown up in the United States), students comment on which terms they find personally meaningful and which are largely institutional. They particularly question what the labels imply, include, and exclude.

Multicultural or Diverse? In the late 1990s, when the interviews in this section were done, the term diversity had gradually been displacing multiculturalism in higher education usage. A few students remembered these terms from elementary or middle school, and some from high school, but no one used them then. They became familiar, and “official,” at the College. Janet (Haitian) told me: I did an actual research paper on multiculturalism and the opportunity program … So, I had the numbers from Admissions on the number of different races who are admitted, of people of color. Yeah, I knew off the bat that what multiculturalism really means is just diversifying this campus.

I asked if people learn to be in those categories, and she responded: I think it’s not like they learn to be but they’re like forced to be in those categories, when you choose to come to the College … well you’re here anyway so you just started playing, or you can get more involved in the campus as a person of color, a multicultural student.

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Joseph (West Indian) details the contrast between promotional talk and daily reality: From the very first day of Orientation onwards, it was like boom, boom, boom: multicultural, diverse, multicultural, diverse … during Orientation that’s one of the things that’s thrown at you constantly, this whole idea of how very diverse you are as a class coming into this school, and how you represent all these groups and cultures and things like that, and what wonderful contributions you will be making to the College community and stuff like that … On the one hand there are instances where it’s capitalized on in terms of describing the College community, in terms of putting out the numbers and figures and stuff like that. But on a day-to-day basis, being a part of the community, it’s sort of pushed aside and it’s not recognized or embraced or anything like that.

Ana (Dominican) comments on the complexity of finding the ‘correct’ term of reference for marked identity when terms are always shifting: I guess they just use it instead of saying black or Hispanic or Latino. They just say, well, just kind of colored people … like some people say you shouldn’t say minorities because it’s kind of a degrading name, and they say you should say multicultural. So sometimes I still say minority and then I’m like oops! multicultural! … and then like new words, I’ve noticed the same thing with Latino and multicultural, like new words arrive and you leave what’s kind of the other word. Like if they used Spanish, now they use Latino, if they used minority, now they use multicultural. And in a few years, it’s not going to be multicultural, it’s going to be something else … What sometimes just upsets me is that we’re the ones that they’re having trouble categorizing, that they always have to find the right word for, but then with whites there’s nothing.

To Ana’s perceptive summary of how unmarkedness works, Niki (black) concisely adds “It’s just white,” and Ana agrees, “It’s just white, it’s so simple.” Finding ‘correct’ terminology applies to markedness, as Sonia (Dominican) explains: It’s like in some ways that whole term, like multiculturalism, is a way of segregation … it’s like multicultural people are these ‘special’ people, like you know how they have Special Olympics? Well, we have special people at the College, and we claim them all as multicultural because we’re not normal, you know? We’re not upper-class white Anglo-Saxon … so … the College wants to make

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a quote-unquote space for you, for you to feel comfortable, then, [they have] this term multicultural. I had never heard the term multicultural until I got here. And it’s so surprising that it’s not only [the cultural] organizations …, it’s the [LGBTQ organization], it’s the Women’s Center, it’s the International Student Organization, … it’s like they grab you all and they clump you into this one category and you’re dealt with from one office.

As to Hispanic or Latino, African American or Black, and Asian, how students saw them was contextualized and subject to change. Here is an overview of perspectives, tracked over a decade.

Hispanic or Latino? The terms Hispanic and Latino have distinct social histories (Oboler 1995). Latino took on meaning for students in the 1990s, as we hear from the following interviews from the late 1990s. Michael, who self-identified as Puerto Rican, first encountered Hispanic in middle school and Latino in late high school or early college, in references such as “Latino awareness.” Celia self-identified as Ecuadorian and Cuban (“well, my parents were”) and often as simply American. She said she never thought “oh, I’m Latina,” at least not until late in high school when she started applying for college and scholarships, and her teachers would point out “Oh, here is a Latina scholarship.” Before college, Lourdes self-identified specifically as hondureña (Honduran), and Rosa as puertorriqueña (Puerto Rican) and generically as Hispanic. Latina did not enter their register until they started college. Both mentioned their friend Sonia’s influence. Sonia used Dominican at home and Latina at the college, and was very definite about why: Not Hispanic because Hispanic is a name that was given to people of Latino descent by the government … Latina I use a lot … because it’s a self-labeling term, a term that Latinos or Hispanics in the ’80s used to self-label themselves … I think it has more to do with raising consciousness within ourselves.

Sonia had learned this before college, in the youth organization Aspira, as had Ely. Ely explains: I was part of Aspira in New York for a couple of months in high school, and they told us … to learn to identify as Latinos because

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that means you are of a certain country, like Puerto Rico or Cuba, whereas if you’re Hispanic, you’re more related to Spain. And that’s not exactly what most Latinos or people of Latin America want to be related to.

Ely had identified as Neorican (New York Puerto Rican) in high school, and as Puerto Rican in Puerto Rico. Latina became salient for her at college, as it did for Ana, who at home self-identified as Dominican. Born in Ecuador and moving with her family to New York in her early teens, Patricia had thought of herself specifically as Ecuadoran and generally as Hispanic, or more colloquially Spanish.2 In our first interview, in her first semester, she was feeling lonely, as her summer program had fewer “Spanish people” than usual. “And the people that were Hispanic … I’m not saying they were not Hispanic but I’m saying they were not the way we are back home.” But by her senior year: my own perception of the terms have changed, evolved throughout the classes, my personal experiences and stuff like that, and I have chosen to identify myself with the term Latina … because those are activities that are closer to me, things that I deal with every day, people that I talk to every day. So, they’re more personal.

Especially important for Patricia was the course on US Latino experience taught by Professor Burgos (whom we meet in Chapter 6): And I guess it was really powerful for me that I really identified a lot with the contents of the books that we read, and the characters. Most of them were autobiographies. So, it was not something fiction, it was not something that they just made up, it was more personal for the others, and I just came to realize the same thing, it was personal choice and I just feel more comfortable with it. Hispanic– the term Hispanic is more of a general term, more the way a society is named, more of a political term.

For Patricia, Latina came to connote agency, and Hispanic, a macro-level classification, such as “referring to the labor market, Hispanic workers, or the Hispanic-American labor force. Immigrant, Hispanic immigrant. Terms like that.” In the LSO, she said, they would talk about how: “A Latino comedian is coming up, a Latino speaker— that’s it, I mean, that’s the way we mention them between us, the people in the organization. And we never use Hispanic now that I think of it.”

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Patricia, Ana, Ely, Sonia, Lourdes, and Michael were all from New York. Their classmate Julia, whose parents were from Ecuador, had a different take. Light-skinned and red-headed, Julia grew up in Florida, identifying as white generally, and Ecuadoran or Latin American more specifically. She too came to define herself as Latina (“I say Latina when I’m with my Latina friends”). She also came to think of herself as not white. She cites the influence of Professor Burgos’s courses, taken by most of my Latina informants, on US Latinos, which provided considerable background on the history and connotation of identity terminology. As Julia put it, she “told me I was Latina. She’s like, you know, ‘we Latinas, we have to stick together.’ I was like, ‘hmmm, I guess I’m a Latina.’” Similar patterns emerge by the early 2000s. Alicia, a Dominican New Yorker, had called herself Hispanic or Spanish before college, associating Latino with Mexicans or South Americans. In college she started thinking about where identity terms come from. Citing Professor Burgos’s courses, she said “But now I’m becoming more conscious that Spanish is used to refer to people from Spain.” Felicia, a Puerto Rican New Yorker, said “[In college] I’ve used Hispanic, I’ve used Latino, but I didn’t really use those growing up … I said Spanish, Puerto Rican.” Much the same is reported by Rachel, whose complex background included Puerto Rican, Thai, Cuban, and Chinese: “We grew up saying Spanish … I never used the term Latina, I always associated it with like Latin America, Central America. I’m like, Latina? What kind of term is that? … But it grows on you.” Melissa, another Puerto Rican New Yorker, said: “I’d say Puerto Rican … I might have used Hispanic, but I never used Latina … Latina was here.” Nick, Dominican from New York, said he grew up using Dominican, then Hispanic. He only started using Latino in college, though it seemed ‘PC’ to him: “It’s more because now there are these categories and you’re put into them whether you like it or not, so the term comes up.” Gina, Puerto Rican from upstate New York, gave much the same account: “I think here was the first time I had encountered it actually. Before it was Hispanic. Here, I encountered it in the organization meetings … as well as with people. “Oh, so you’re Latina, so where are you from?” and I was like, “Oh. Yeah. Yes, I am Latina.” By the mid-late 2000s, the use of Latina/o had become more familiar before college, though unevenly. Bianca (Puerto Rican), who regularly used Latina by the time she graduated high school, said she first associated the term with music: “I saw it more as Latin, just reading magazines, you’d see an introduction like “person X, this rising Latin

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superstar.”3 Dora (Ecuadoran) reports having heard it but not having used it before college: “Before then I hadn’t identified as a Latina … it was just another word.” But she adopted its use among her closest friends in the LSO. David (Cuban) first encountered Latino in high school, but it took on meaning for him in college: I never really looked at my identity in the US, how it functions, until I came here; and not even freshman year, until I began taking Latino studies courses is when I began to notice. I initially came into contact with it because my high school was about 60-something percent Latino, 30-something percent black and like 1 percent white. So, coming to an institution that’s the complete opposite of that, like 90 percent white and very little percent Latino and people of color in general, was the first big shock.

Bianca’s friends Danielle (Colombian) and Vanessa (Puerto Rican) describe the impact of the US Latino Experience course. Danielle said: I know when this came up, we actually took a course– I never really thought about it, I always said Hispanic. And then I took a course with Professor Burgos, “Race, Culture and Gender”? Something. It was us and Dora and everybody else. Every other Latina on campus.

Before the course, Danielle had seen Hispanic and Latino as equivalent, whereas Vanessa had said Latina “for years.” Finally, Danielle noted, “Yeah, I don’t really hear a lot of guys say Latino. Tell you the truth, never. It’s women.” And, interestingly, my last two informants (both Puerto Rican from New York), completely unprompted and unrelated to the prior interview, said: “Well, I’ve always viewed myself, I’ve always been proud of being a Hispanic male” (Richard); and “I was the only Latina that graduated from my grade” (Sara). Latinx came into use in the mid-late 2010s and is now the website and cultural organization standard. It is also a routine self-identifier among students, along with Latino/a and probably occasionally Hispanic. In the one late-2010s focus group I did with the LSO, I did not ask about it and no one brought it up, so my conclusions are limited. Having said that, I want to add that as Valdez (n.d.) argues, concerns with getting labels ‘right’ point to what that ‘right’ label can do. It can ethnicize rather than racialize. It can do political and representational work for people who have not been well represented, and can thus serve as a form of resistance. This was true of Latino/a in the interviews written about below, and it is true of Latinx now.

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African American or Black? In these interviewees from the late 1990s to the late 2000s, we find that nearly everyone routinely used black, most preferring it as a self-identifier, while finding African American institutional and somewhat problematic. For one thing, not everyone was born in the United States; as Sabrina put it: “I’m Haitian, not African American.” Niki, who was US born, found African problematic: “But I would describe myself black, just because I’ve never been to Africa. If I went there, people wouldn’t consider me African.” As Anthony put it: In school it was African American, like with teachers and administration. But with my friends and everything, it was just black … Like African American would be like the proper way, like what they say on TV or whatever. Black is like just– every day, I guess.

Khia’s take was more detailed: This is my problem that I have with these lists: if I tell you that I am African American, why would you put African American or black on the same line? Because they’re trying to save space on the paper? No. You don’t do that. It’s either one or the other … I was like, excuse me, no. In the beginning they said African American, black. Then they had every type of Asian person you could even dream of trying to be.4 Why didn’t they have Nigerian, Ghanaian, all this other stuff. I understand seriously why they don’t is because they don’t have all those people there … The other reason is, African American or black still does not identify a race. Those are just terms.

Khia sees African American in opposition to, not synonymous with, black, and she notes a false parallel of African American with Asian as she had elsewhere with Hispanic or Latino. The latter two could be subdivided by nationality, the former could not. Janelle pointed out another aspect of black identity. Although her father was Italian, she said: I always defined myself as black. I didn’t really get into this whole Italian thing til I was I guess like six or seven, was when my mother really sat down and tried to explain it to me. But I was always black.

I asked Khia and Janelle if they had ever called themselves African American before college. K: No because that’s a term I despise.

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J: I hate it. Thank you.

Angela, who generally called herself black, saw the terms as context sensitive: The thing is, everything was constantly evolving into the right PC term, so you were black or African American depending on who you were talking to. I guess in casual terms you were black … And I didn’t know there was a difference between black and African American til I came to the College.

Keisha brings up the frequent question, what if you are not only black: I think just black … I don’t remember growing up hearing myself say, “I’m an African American.” When I filled out all these things– since, by the way, I’ve been filling these things out since I finished elementary school, because once you get into private school that’s when you get these kinds of applications, my mom and I, we sat down, and she wanted me to put down Hispanic and African American and that’s because that’s what I am. I’ve always said black.

Niki adds: On applications it’ll be Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, and a person like me, I mean my grandmother’s Latina, she’s … from Puerto Rico, but if I classify myself as African American– I don’t know, where do I put myself?

Then again, as Janelle points out, even being part something else does not change being black. She is Italian on her father’s side, but: He was the one that sat down and said, well, you’re not really black … he was like, you’re Italian because you are whatever your father is, whatever. But by then it was too late because I had been black for too long … But then my mother sat down and explained to me that I was a bit of both but all you could see was black … But as far as like identification, I’ve always said black, and then I would say, but my father’s Italian or I’m part Italian, but I’ve always said I’m black but I’m part Italian.

Janet elaborates on the exclusionary nature of African American: Well, a lot of times you don’t say black so I would put African American, but lately I’ve been– because I’m Haitian, I’ve been

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looking at that Other and wanting to put Haitian-American. But I’m like, that’s not a real category … I really don’t see myself as African American and I remember in the women’s studies class that I had, that came up. Because a lot of the students kept using African American, I guess to be politically correct or something like that. And I was like, well, they’re not talking about me. I just had that feeling they’re not talking about me … Sometimes I feel it’s just like when people say African American, they’re like separating from, you know, Caribbean-Americans or blacks who weren’t even born in America. So, I brought that up and I was like, I’d really appreciate it if the class would use black instead of African American because you’re excluding other black people.

For Janet, Haitian American is certainly real enough, but not a real enough category for an official document, where what is ‘real’ excludes her. Joseph, who came to the College directly from the British West Indies, found the ‘official’ labels similarly problematic: When I saw this section in the application form, I was like OK, so what do I do? Because as far as I’m concerned, I didn’t fit into any of those … African American or black … what does that mean. So, what I did was, I ended up crossing out African American and put black Caribbean after that, because I felt that that was much more accurate in terms of my own situation … I grew up as a British West Indian, you know?

Aaron pointed out how being black gets foregrounded at the College: Well, actually, your self-definition becomes an issue here. Before anything, I’m black at the College. And that’s not thrown upon me literally, but at the same time I assume that myself; in women’s studies, the professor asks you to write down three self-descriptors. My friend, she wrote out black, woman, and another adjective, intelligent, something along those lines. And I remember putting, black, funny, and something else– but black was always the reoccurring description.

Aaron added that he probably would not have done that in high school—or even if he had, it would have, as he put it, “taken on a different complexion … against the College background.” The label he selected would have been inflected by what worked in the context

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he used it in. Then Jared brought up the bright lines that distinguish categories: Whichever specific one it is because you know how they choose, White, Black, Latino. And there’s no room for anything in between. So, you fill in the Other box.

Ariel compared African American to Latino as referents: I call myself black, I don’t call myself African American, because I think … it’s the learning process, you’re educated and if you’re blessed to have a professor like Professor Burgos … for Latino studies, she’ll break it down for you. For me, it was [another professor] and … Ms. Warwick … you define yourself as African American as a political term, very political. Black associates with culture, ethnicity, racial. It encompasses a lot of things because I don’t consider myself African in any sense.

Ariel’s assessment parallels Niki’s early in this section: African does not work as an ethnic identity.

Asian These interviews span the late 1990s to the mid-2000s. Kevin, from New York with parents from Hong Kong, summarized the informal classification that he grew up with: “In my high school … I was Chinese. Everybody was Chinese. Everybody Asian was Chinese.” Yin, whose family had moved from China to New York some years before she started college, said that she occasionally heard Asian as a generic in her high school but usually it was more Chinese, or the region you came from. You just say “Oh, I’m Fukienese.” … Usually when I go anyplace, I’d say “Oh, I’m Fukienese.” It’s not like I’m Chinese or I’m Asian. It’s not even a category. It’s just because I was born there.

This specificity changed when she came to college: Nothing specific, it’s just Asian. More people will ask me … just naturally and then I will say “I’m an Asian,” I guess because here it seems to a lot of people not much difference whether I’m a Chinese or Japanese. They couldn’t tell. So, they just say, OK, Asian. It’s just

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a general term. It doesn’t mean much to me. It just made me realize, OK, I’m an Asian. That’s it.

Rita, Filipina from New York, reports that growing up: I thought of myself more as Filipina, as opposed to Asian. But I guess when I came here, I was grouped as “Asian”—in quotes again—and I knew I was in that category. But I still did categorize myself as a Filipina.

She reports hearing the term Asian, though not commonly, in elementary school: where you’d get your test back and you’d have your “ethnic name”— quotes again—most of the last names would end in Lee or Kwan or something that people would consider an Asian background … the students would get back the tests and it would be Wendy Kwan or something. And they’d ask me, and I’d say no, that’s not my test. And it just kind of struck me in that way that I’m put into this category Asian. And whatever last name that sounds or is thought of as Asian is given to me, if that makes any sense.

Rachel, who described her complex (Puerto Rican, Cuban, Thai, Chinese) background above, discovered the limits of complexity for administrative purposes: I’m Asian and Spanish. So, I’m two categories. But interesting, I had a friend who works in the Business Office and he can get into the computer, and I found out I was taken off the Hispanic—the Spanish— list, because I was needed to fill the quota as an Asian.

Isabel (Chinese from Boston), who graduated several years after Yin and Rita, said “I think I had always defined myself as Asian American.” This distinct shift from a pattern of ethnic or nation-specific identity roughly parallels the emergence of Latino: students of (and since) Isabel’s era also mention encountering Asian before starting college.

LGBTQ At the time of these interviews (early 2000s), there were two LGBTQ organizations, one providing activist programming and education, one providing safe space. Joseph and Karen served as co-facilitators of the former. Karen described realizing that “I was queer or whatever”

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in high school. She personally felt “I don’t think people need to identify their sexuality,” and preferred to think of it as a continuum. But she recognized the politics of choosing a definite identifier (lesbian or gay, bisexual, queer or straight) to be taken seriously as an activist. For Karen, that fluidity made it hard to see sexual orientation as parallel to race/ethnicity. I asked if the question of counting LGBTQ students ever came up and she said it was unlikely: People identifying as a race is much less touchy than people identifying as sexuality, because the culture is so erotophobic that identifying, or asking someone to identify, their sexuality is– it frightens people. And the school would have to cross that very touchy, icky line and say, we want to know how you identify sexually in order to put it in our numbers and have it as a statistic.

Joseph, when asked about counting, said it was easier for the College “to go for what you can count than it is for you to go the route of counting sexuality and things like that, because the way things are right now, you don’t want to offend anybody by asking what are you.” But he felt that the organizations could be better highlighted, and found the administrative attitude perfunctory at best, as if he and Karen should be satisfied that “you guys have an organization, you have an office, what more do you want? There aren’t any bashings going on.” I asked Karen about her characterization of the organizations: B: You keep using underprivileged. Is that ironic or what? K: Because I don’t like multicultural, that’s why … In a way, there is a queer culture, a gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered/transsexual culture, whatever. But it’s not culture in the sense that most people think of it, as an ethnic group. Within the queer community, there are so many crossings of lines, of race, class, ability, everything. B: Sort of a culture of sexual and every other kind of complexity– sort of a culture of complexity? K: It is. Exactly.

For Karen, underprivileged connotes the politics of representation, whereas multicultural implies bringing culture to spaces of no culture: I think that the word multiculturalism is another element of the patriarchy … that the College is not a culture, and we have to bring in

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culture to make the College look OK … So, what they do is they bring in underprivileged groups or they support underprivileged groups, and call it multiculturalism … The College looks like it has many cultures when really … [it] is also a culture, and it’s made up of all these underprivileged groups competing with the privileged groups. So, I think multiculturalism is a term to disguise the class and race and whatever struggle in the community.

Karen’s take on culture thus foregrounds the critique that opened this chapter: the neutral institution enriched by culture without regard for structural inequalities. Could LGBTQ issues be thought of in cultural terms? Drawing on the history of the women’s movement, Karen said: It’s more a history of dealing with issues, in dealing with the line-crossing of that group, of women or queers with underprivileged groups, that’s been most problematic. I mean obviously there’s a history and there’s heroes who are the cultural ancestors, and that people try to emulate, or they call on as their mentors. But the history is more marked by “this is when the movement added lesbians to the gays,” or “this is when our movement started dealing with racism.”

Joseph offers his take on the sexuality/diversity disconnection: The thing that is really problematic about the way that diversity-slash-multiculturalism is talked about here is usually in terms of race, and everything else in terms of, say for example, class diversity, cultural diversity in terms of different cultural backgrounds, national diversity in terms of whether you’re American or a foreign student, all seem to fall out of the debates.

This was especially frustrating for him personally, as “apparently I’m quite the anomaly because I am black and openly gay,” which several BSO members found strange: And that’s been one of the hardest things to get across is getting people, not just white students, … but also getting people from minority backgrounds to realize, hello! They are part of our community as well … Because it’s been like, well, “them kind of things, them are white people issues.”

The same observation was made a few years later by David, who served on the LSO executive board and as facilitator of the LGBTQ activist association:

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Once you get on campus, some of these organizations that use racial or ethnic identities don’t want to collaborate with—or don’t even want to acknowledge the fact that there are—members of their community that are also homosexual.

Especially disappointing in this regard was an organization for men of color formed by and for black men; David suspected this was in contrast to the BSO, which was overwhelmingly female—and, as it turned out, very much straight.

Encountering Whiteness at the College High school counselors have played an important role in steering students of color from working-class backgrounds to the College, clinching the deal with the financial package. Ana, Celia, and Patricia spell it out: B: How did you pick the College, all of you? A: Money. C: Money. P: Money.5 B: Oh. Well. How did you hear about it? A: Lourdes came here.

Ana, Celia, and Patricia all came to the College through the Opportunity Program, as did Lourdes. Lourdes had heard about the school through her high school advisor, the same advisor passing on the information to Ana. Celia and Patricia had also heard about the school through high school advisors. Advisors often steered students to the “Multicultural Weekend,” once held annually by the Admissions Office. As Kevin put it: K: I first heard about the College from my guidance counselor, my college advisor. B: What did your advisor say? K: Just said “The College is having a Multicultural Weekend, are you interested?” “What’s the College?” “I don’t know.”

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The school’s physical beauty helped. Gina described her guidance counselor recommending the school, but the deal was sealed by her campus visit “when everything was blossoming, not in the middle of winter.” Nearly all the New Yorkers admitted through the Opportunity Program had the same story. Richard and Sara add some extra dimension: B: Why did you pick the College? Or did it pick you? R: I think it was sort of a little of both. I mean, we went to a private school and we had college counselors. And they very much placed you in a college before you left high school, to make sure you were somewhere. And basically, they told you to apply to around seven schools … and basically out of the schools that accepted you, you’d just go with the best. And the minute I got into the College, pretty much it was decided, everyone was like, OK, you’re going to the College. I wouldn’t say I had much of a choice in the matter, but it probably would have been my choice regardless. S: For me, I knew two girls that already went here, both of them happened to be Hispanic, and I came, and I was definitely worried about diversity on the campus, and stuff like that. And they explained to me that it was not as diverse as they would want it to be but they were doing OK and they really wanted me to come … they always want more students of color to come. R (with a slight laugh): The College always encourages diversity. S: So, I came, and I visited with her and I mean I really wanted to go to a small school because I didn’t– I felt like I needed to have a connection with my professors, and in a big school I felt like I’d kind of get lost. So that in combination with the fact that the College gave me the most financial aid— R: Yeah, financial assistance has a lot to do with it. S: —made me decide to go here.

Notice that Sara uses diversity as a synonym for racial identity when she says that she and her friends would like to be with more students of color. Richard on the other hand practically puts it in air quotes as he implicitly comments on diversity as part of the school’s public image. The students who came in through Posse heard about the College because it was one of three schools that had contracted with their city’s Posse program, so their initial connection and, for some, their

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continuing connection, with the school was mediated differently from those who came in through the OP. As Jared put it: I didn’t even know the College existed til I was recruited to try for the Posse scholarship—until then I had no idea what it was. I thought it was an opportunity because they were offering so much benefits that came along with the scholarship, so I said, why not try it and find out about the school. And I hadn’t really researched it much because at that point I was still in the process of applying for many colleges, so this was an easier ticket into a school. So, I said why don’t I see what happens with this? And then we came to visit once, and the College didn’t seem so bad. But it was kind of that everything was presented to us with a silver ribbon on it; they made it seem like the school was just the perfect place, it was in a great location where you could be comfortable and safe. But when we got here, we just had each other so we weren’t really concerned with the campus as a whole, we were more concerned with getting to know each other and being able to function once we got on campus.

Jared effectively summarizes the picture for most students of color: a little island of ‘people like me’ surrounded by white kids of a sort not previously encountered. As Bianca put it: So, I thought the College was like the [OP summer program]. I thought I was not going to have this culture shock as I did this first day of freshman orientation … I’ve never had a cliquey kind of group of friends, so when I got here, I didn’t have as much of a culture shock as the average Hispanic person, probably, but it came to a point that first week where I was like, all right, students of color, come on, like any minute.

Bianca added that her high school was at least half white, but working-class New York white. At the other end, Danielle describes undergoing this transition between middle school and high school. In her middle school, everyone was black and Latino, and you know, you did have your token white kid, but they were poor … everyone’s the same because no one has money. Then when I went to boarding school, that’s when the whole diversity thing came in. There were only two of us Latinas in my class, and one black girl, and when you looked at the spectrum of students, 350, you only had a good handful—I would say ten all together. It was like eighth through twelfth grade, and I

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would say in the whole school there were probably like twelve students of color. So that’s when I was introduced to it. I think when I got here, I was actually really excited because for me it was diverse as well, because I already had that mentality—like obviously twenty-five is more than three.

“Diversity kicked in,” as Danielle put it, with the shift to a situation where white and upper-middle class was unmarked; clearly diversity did not mean “everyone was black and Latino.” Opportunity Program students experience a particularly strong sense of connectedness, as Ely pointed out: Well, when you come to this school you come as an OP student, and you come to the summer program. And then you have to identify as an OP student, you’re all in the same shoes, for you to make it to the College you have to pass a certain program and then you become associated with the people and the people tend to be all lower class or people of color, but there are some white students. And you have something in common then. But when you hit the big scene which is September, you realize that if you don’t identify with who you are … then you don’t have a group in this school because the rest of the people are too busy with their own things like the drinking and the parties and things like that. So, you need to know who you are.

Jared, Bianca, and Ely summarized the core reality experienced by students of color, especially from working-class backgrounds, when they start autumn classes: there is their cohort and then there is the surrounding sea of middle/upper-middle-class whiteness. Some find College whiteness easier to negotiate than do others. Gina, whose family had moved from New Jersey to Puerto Rico when she was seven and then to upstate New York when she started high school, had already spent some years in a largely white environment. So, when she entered, she found the College less racially contrastive than did most students from larger cities. Rita picked the school for its small size and its potential for close faculty relations. The aid package helped, but she did reject a school with a better offer because of the “student interaction” she had experienced on a visit there. What sealed the deal at the College for her was an April visit for accepted students. As for that sea of whiteness: When we came here on campus when orientation started and everything, I didn’t have a problem integrating. I know a lot of other

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students that were in the Opportunity Program did. That might’ve been because I lived with a family who was American and white, and I knew their culture and I was able to integrate just fine.

However, she did add that after two years “the social life has been stale, I guess, for me. So, I’ve submerged myself into my studies, basically.” Whiteness back home and whiteness at the College were often different. Melissa, a Puerto Rican first year from New York City, said: M: In the city I never felt like “I’m Puerto Rican, this person’s white.” Here I totally feel it. My best friend in the city’s white, I didn’t feel any racial barriers or anything. And here I feel it totally, it’s really present here for me. B: In what ways does it come out? M: People’s tone of voice, the way they look at you, just– I don’t know.

Janelle compares College whiteness to whiteness at her high school in a city near the College: I wasn’t expecting it to be so white. I mean, it’s really white. I mean, at my high school there was a lot of white students too, but I guess you don’t really feel it because no one treats you any differently, you know. There’s definitely a socioeconomic difference, but because everyone dresses the same, everyone hangs out together, we’ve all gone to school together for all our life because there is only one high school and two junior highs, and we’d already known each other for so long that you don’t really feel like you’re in such a white community. When you come here it’s like [imitating stereotypical white girl voice] “Oh, so you’re from [name of city]?”

In the same interview, Khia describes moving from a demographically complex neighborhood in Brooklyn to a relatively segregated school in Atlanta in which the white kids all knew each other and the black kids all knew each other, and neither were easy networks for Khia to fit into. As she put it, “So after that experience … I really don’t have much of a problem here.” Rachel described the contrast as follows: R: And I was aware of the racial issue, minorities, and the white population. That didn’t bother me so much because I didn’t think it was going to be a big thing until I came here.

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B: What did you find different about dealing with whites here from in New York? R: The whites in New York are city oriented, and here they’re not. Here most of the white students come from privileged families, upper class, and just their perception of minorities—sometimes it’s very degrading.

“City oriented” suggests a class habitus familiar to Rachel, who typifies the elite habitus of college whiteness as “everybody driving their little BMWs, J. Crew magazines everywhere.” This was widely echoed. Women of color talked about makeup and hair, mentioning “blonde,” “pearl earrings,” and “blow-dried hair.” Men of color, in my limited sample, talked about clothing style (“popped collars” and “khakis”) and personality characteristics (condescension). Everyone talked about Jeep Cherokees.6 Pearl earrings, J. Crew, popped collars, and so forth iconize whiteness and index a non-white viewpoint. And while some of my interviewees did themselves own J. Crew or North Face or other ‘white’ brands, the image is of white students performing brand consumption. As Rachel put it, “Or like if you’re rich, you always have to wear J. Crew. God forbid you go like to Deb’s and you get something that’s not name-brand.” Consuming name brands and displaying certain dress, hair, or clothing styles pointed to what the privileged could take for granted. Whiteness is a figured world (Holland et al. 1998: 52) in which race/class privilege and protection are ‘normal,’ as signified by brand consumption and style. Richard shows how ‘normal’ works with an example from his fraternity pledging, when pledges were asked to wear odd costumes: My costume was simply a pair of khakis and a polo shirt, that was my costume, that’s all it was. And they were like, the reason we’re doing this is you always walk around in such baggy jeans and Timbs [Timberland boots] and like whatever, we want you to know how it feels to walk around like this. And part of me was saying oh, so you just want me to be– but part of me thought it was funny, like yeah, I would never ever be caught dead in any of this normally. And it was weird, because on campus I would have people coming up to me, “Oh my God, you always wear hoodies and baggy jeans and now you’re in khakis you look so nice. Did you change your style?”

I heard this talk of race/class signification among students of color for years, in class and in conversations in my office as well as in

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interviews, always making it clear how much negotiating the divide really does fall to racially marked students. One of the toughest adjustments for students of color is recognizing how they are perceived and assessed, which is not always obvious. Ely gives an example: I know for the general College culture which is all students in general … if one person is out there, one Latino or Latina, and is really, really loud, this person is seen as “they’re Latino.” Period. Like every Latino acts this way. But … like Rosa, she goes out and she’s really quiet and she doesn’t interact much with people … She goes out into a classroom and they’re like “but this girl, she’s not meeting that expectation, she’s not like that other girl that we met? Why? She’s Latina, she’s supposed to talk loud, she’s supposed to be loud.”

Typification is not unique to white students—Ely gives examples of Puerto Rican typifications of Dominicans or Mexicans—but white students do it from a position of advantage. Sometime typification is experienced by default; as Ely put it, “Definitely when you’re in a class and you’re the only person of color. That’s when you feel like you’re on the hot spot.” That hot spot can take the form of regarding a student as a collectible, as Isabel describes: I think at this college when they hear Asian, they think like “Asia”– that’s all they think, like a big land mass, and like exoticness and something very different. I think even to a lot of students here, they’re not aware of Asian Americans. I always come back to this because it was like my first week here and this white chick comes up to me and she goes, “Oh my God, you’re the first Asian I’ve ever met.” And I was like, “All right, do you want to take a picture?” I was like, where is this girl from?

Joseph describes coming from the mostly black British Caribbean and encountering elite white US notions of racial otherness as nothing but poverty and ignorance: After a couple of weeks, a month or so … of being the only black person living in a building of 132 people, and I was on an all-male floor, and engaging people in conversation and things like that was just absolutely amazing in terms of—I don’t know how to describe it except to say that a lot of it was very stupid and I think grossly ignorant. For example, this one individual was engaging me in conversation, and was all distraught because he’d been to the Caribbean

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on a cruise and had been to the Dominican Republic and all he saw was poverty everywhere and he was very much concerned because he wanted to know how my life was before coming to the College and how it was different being here because you don’t seem like a peasant and you speak such wonderful English and all this other stuff. And I was like, whoa, where’s all this stuff coming from, which was absolutely beyond me. And it was also walking through hallways and listening to people talking about how international students and minority students are getting the tons of money that are available for scholarships for students and everything like that, and how most of us are really stupid and the only reason we’re here is to fill up quotas and all that stuff.

Niki describes race stereotyped as a condition to be pitied or escaped from: I came very optimistic, even though I knew how the situation would be at the College. And when I got here, during Orientation, … our Orientation leader asked everyone “where do you come from” and this and that, and this one girl from Australia was like, “oh, I’m sorry that you’re black.” Not, “I never met a black person before” but “I’m sorry that you’re black.” And that was like my first negative experience of a thousand negative experiences at the College.

Niki describes another (to her, surprising) stereotype that aligns racial otherness with predetermined political position, while negating the agency of the racialized. Here she describes a suitemate’s question about a friend: [my friend] is a Republican and he’s a little bit conservative but he’s not a hardline conservative, he’s one of my really great friends. We have totally different political issues, but he never said “Niki, black folks are on welfare and black folks are this and that.” He never used race as an issue. So, me and him, we got along perfectly because, you know, I could understand where he was coming from … And one of the girls goes, “I can’t believe you study with him and you’re black. How could you study with a Republican? And you’re black.”

In other words, the suitemate’s notion of blackness is laminated to the suitemate’s notion of politics; how can Niki act otherwise? The suitemates generally seem to have trouble understanding how Niki might act outside their expectations:

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They wanted to understand why black people, every time they won an award, they thanked God. “I don’t understand that you’re black and you never smoke marijuana. I don’t understand,” stuff like that … Like they wouldn’t expect me to hang out with a Republican who was WASP, who was rich. I had to have all poor, destitute friends … And they’d expect my social life to entail drugs, marijuana … I just didn’t do those things. I guess they didn’t expect me to be a law-abiding citizen in some ways. And they didn’t expect me to have good internships.

Similarly, Janelle observed: It’s not even the fact that they are white people, that seems so racist, it’s really not an issue of people being racist, it’s just the way people look at you. I think that for a lot of the kids that are here, it’s their first time seeing anybody that wasn’t white, you know what I mean? So seriously, people just staring at you, people touching your hair, people asking about your hair. It’s just weird.

Khia, in the same interview, gave as an example the following interchange that took place while she was in Niki’s room along with Niki’s white roommate and the roommate’s mother: Her mother got up from [the other] end of the room, walked over to behind me at the computer where I was seated, stood over my head— and at this time, I had just had some braids in my hair—she stood over my head, picked up a braid and talked to her daughter across the room over my head, “Now, is this extensions?” She was just so lucky I was raised well. I really could have jumped up and beat this woman, because personally, I just don’t like getting touched. Aside from that, this was the first time in my life– I don’t know people that just randomly not only touch you but then talk over your damn head like you’re not there, like you’re just some little specimen or whatever.

This kind of racializing behavior turns the recipient into a non-agent. Another bit of racializing behavior, described by Janelle, messes with agency in a different way: My roommate first year said to me, “I don’t see you as a black person” and I was like “Oh, really?” Because I’d never heard anyone say anything like that to me, “I don’t view you as a black person,” and think that was a compliment, and think it was something like great.

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Because I’m not really—[it would be like] “Bonnie, I don’t really see you as an Italian person, you’re not really Italian.”

Here again, race is typified as something one would want to escape from or rise above: ‘my’ not seeing ‘your’ race makes ‘me’ a better person for recognizing how ‘you’ have ‘risen above’ it.

Posse, OP, and Whiteness Despite their distinct criteria, recruitment practices, and training programs, and the fact there are white students in both, the Opportunity Program and Posse are routinely conflated as programs for black, Latino/a, and Asian students. How do students of color see OP and Posse in relation to each other and to not being white? Bianca, who came in through the OP, said: I found that from talking to my Posse friends, that they always say, “we were found as leaders of our schools, and we’re here just because we were leaders of our schools, and then we found out that we get full financial assistance, and so that’s why we’re here.” Nowhere did I hear that it was that they were of lower income, or it was because they kind of have borderline grades, or anything of that sort. Whereas in OP, I was told that it was not a financial basis, it was just basically that you’re a borderline student, not that you’re failing, and that we want to help you out … and that we think you can have complete success here if you just took the right supportive systems. That’s what I think OP is for. Nowhere did they say “You’re a leader,” even though I was … They just phrased it very different from the Posse program from what I hear. And like I said before, I think they just sugarcoated it for the Posse program, but in the end it’s just the same means for the same ends … when I got here and met the Posse program, there’s always this rivalry– we didn’t even know what we were rivaling about … and it wasn’t even some barbaric rivalry, it was just for the first week and then you got over it because you knew these people were actually the only people of color so you had to be their friends.

David describes Posse–OP student relations as “a rivalry of sorts,” with very different drills: They [Posse] seem to have more organization in a way, when they get on campus, because they have to have weekly meetings, they have to go to all these programs and events. So, they come in with an agenda, as opposed to OP where … we take a remedial course in the summer

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for five weeks and then we come into the College and that’s it, that’s our OP duty. We meet with Ms. Prentiss once a semester or whenever we have trouble, get book money, and that’s about it.

David, like other interviewees, noted that come fall of their first year, “the white students seem to just break from that clump, break away from identifying as OP or Posse, and they just blend into the rest of the community.” David continues: These students kind of felt that to identify as OP or Posse was not to identify economically with it but to identify racially with it—to say oh, you’re part of this Black, Latino and Asian rubric. That’s kind of the alienation I think they felt, though they were not alienated during OP. I see videos and stuff of OPs that came after me and they were all very united, all these students, very integrated, very united as a group of OP students. And as soon as they stepped into the school, the students of color from OP and Posse would stick together, that’s a similarity between the two groups whereas the white students in these respective groups would disappear.

Jared, who came in through Posse, reflects on its stress on communication and leadership skills, and how being a leader can get complicated: We facilitate the conversations and facilitate the workshops, so it makes us stand out when the workshops come into play and when we have to run these things. So, we feel important too, we’re making the impact on these students. But then, they recruited us because we stood out the most among how many other candidates there were, so—it’s a good thing and a bad thing, when you put ten leaders together. It’s pressure for us to work together but at the same time it’s useful because we can get tips from one another, and we can learn to follow as well as lead.

Some of that ‘learning to follow’ means working with students who did not come in through Posse. Jared continues: And you come to campus here and you have to start at the bottom and work your way up. You have people in the groups who were presidents of their class and then they get here, and they join organizations like BSO, and they have to be like secretary. It’s hard for them because it’s like, “well when I’m at home, I was this,” which also makes it equally hard to be here because then you’re like, “well I’m not shining as much as I was someplace else.”

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Adjusting to the presence of other leaders is a challenge missing from Posse’s promotional materials and training: interpellating everyone as a leader has its drawbacks. Then there is the possibility of breakdowns in the training process, as when Jared’s cohort’s mentor could not continue for a second year: So, we’re supposed to come up with a Posse project. But in light of his absence, it’s difficult for us to … get some structure going on in the group because we don’t have someone to lead us. We’re ten leaders so everyone’s trying to take that role and then it becomes difficult to function when everyone’s trying to run the game. It doesn’t work that way … a lot of things we wanted to do we couldn’t do because it proved difficult without someone to guide us … it’s just difficult with choosing the right faculty that will help guide us and give us the support we need in order to make an impact on campus.

Above all, the capacity for the unmarked to conflate all racial markedness is too much for Posse or OP to overcome. Jared said that before arriving on campus, he and his cohort felt confident in their understanding of their mission in the college and their support from Posse. However: when we get here it’s like, what are you, OP or Posse? So, then it’s hard for you to even want to contribute to the campus when you don’t even feel worthy … Because these are the only two programs. It seems like you’re in one category or the other. I find that kind of difficult … it devalues your worth here … because then it feels like you’re just helping the College fulfill what they need to do for a quota, or to make their campus more diverse. And at the same time, it doesn’t feel like you’re appreciated as a student.

Isabel, who entered with the first Posse cohort, was surprised at the rivalry, and at the rumor she had heard that the OP students were told, “they’re bringing these top kids from Boston and they’re competing against you, and you’ll show them up.” This ran counter to what Isabel saw as the warm welcome her cohort received from the College’s president, the Admissions director, the director of Multicultural Affairs, and the dean of faculty: “But one by one all these people who were so key in bringing us here started leaving, and we started to see the qualms about our program on this campus.” The Posse program had been brought to the college in a wave of publicity. When the president and Admissions director made the decision, they did not think about

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possible tensions among students. As we saw earlier, Ms. Wells as Multicultural Affairs director, and Ms. Warwick and Ms. Prentiss as OP directors, had guessed what might happen. The way the OP directs student socialization differs strikingly from the way Posse does. Where Posse students are brought in with leadership training workshops, OP, at least at the College, has been a ‘boot camp’ with intensely structured discipline. Sara elaborates: You’re not told about, really, the details of the program until you get here. I mean I walked into the house and I see signs all over, no smoking, no cell phones, no this, no that. I come in, they ask me my name, they ask me if I have a cell phone, they ask me to give them my cell phone, you’re not allowed to have any cell phones, we have a curfew, we have mandatory classes, you have tutoring sessions, you have gym classes, and it’s rough. And it’s also the summer between your senior year of high school and your freshman year of college, and to me it was an important summer.

Sara and her classmate Richard described how their OP experience figured into their recognition of race at the College. Both were from Puerto Rican families in New York working-class neighborhoods. Both went to mostly white private schools in Manhattan. Both reported learning during high school to negotiate the contrast of their own backgrounds with that of their more privileged classmates, and to understand the effect of race on people’s perceptions. Even so: R: It’s just so obvious when you get to the College, how significant a role race plays in your life. I know a lot of people experience this. I think I can look at absolutely any minority on this campus and say hi to them and not feel weird about it. And it’s because— S: When you first come to school— R: There’s so few of us that it’s sort of like they look out for each other. S: It’s funny, when you first come to school, you know no other minorities, but when you pass each other— R: They’ll say hi.

Sara and Richard agreed this was especially true of Black and Latino students, and “Asian students as well because they were in our OP class.” Richard’s sense was that Asian students tended to see themselves as part of, but slightly apart in the Black/Latino/Asian taxonomy. Richard

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and Sara agreed that, generally, diversity meant students of color, and specifically black and Latino. As Sara put it, “everyone always clumps the two together.”

Recrafting One’s Own Markedness Faced with this wall of whiteness, students of color rework the meaning of black, Latino/a, and Asian, taking terms that were little more than labels when they started college, and giving them meaning, providing content for the school, and constructing culture for themselves. How does this work? One way, as Ely explains, is to foreground key elements of her Bronx Puerto Rican Spanish bilingual self. She stresses the importance of markers of the familiar world, not just for her own comfort but to let new acquaintances know who she really is: I mean, not acting Latina but—I guess it has to do with bringing the Bronx closer to home. Like I put up everything, my pictures … I mean to teach the people around me, because a lot of people are really interested, like a lot of my white friends really mean it, they really want to know about me. And I don’t mind teaching them, so they could learn. But also, for myself, for my purpose, if I act this way at home, why should I change the way I act here?

Ely’s friend Rosa sees the contrast in less defined terms: I don’t worry about acting Latina, I just act the way that I am, whether it defines me as Latina or as Rosa or as a woman, that’s just how I act. I don’t think about it, “Oh, I’m acting Latina, I should act like this more.” I just act the way that I act every day.

Ely’s fellow New Yorker Alicia describes how strongly her sense of being Dominican emerged in contrast to her surroundings at the College: Some people here might not understand the need that I feel to practice my culture even more here, because I feel threatened, or because I miss it. Like when I’m in New York City and what not, I’m not turning on the radio all that much, I’m not listening to merengue all that much, because I’m within that environment. But when I’m here, I just keep buying and buying merengue and that’s all I listen to here, while at home I only listen to English music. When I come here all I listen to is Spanish music … and I try to speak Spanish whenever

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I can, I talk about my country whenever I can, I dance, everything. It might seem to them like I’m trying to push it on them, but for me it’s that I miss it so much. I’m afraid I might lose something, so I feel compelled to do things more.

Gina was struck by the contrast in the experience of the New York City natives in her OP cohort and her own as an upstate New York resident. Yet she found herself crafting a Latina identity congruent with theirs: But you’re not really aware of these things until you’re actually put into a setting where you have to be aware, where people identify you a certain way or point you out as a certain thing. So, you have to accommodate into that. So, I think that’s when, throughout my four years, I definitely have created this sense of what it is to be Latino for me, and what it is, the Latino culture, for me. I think a lot of people come in, being minority students, formulate their own Latino culture or black culture, you know? It’s very interesting, very interesting from when you come in, most– not most of us but a lot of us through the OP so we already in the summer before freshman year, we formulate something. So, when we come in you see the faces, you see the people you spend five very intensive weeks with, and you’re able to have something. And by your senior year you have this niche, you have this creation, this process you’ve gone through the past four years, and you know who you are, or you try to know who you are. You graduate with an identity that you’ve created in your four years here, helping by the culture you’ve experienced.

Like other interviewees, Gina served as president of the LSO; like other interviewees, she stresses how programming and coursework help define being Latina. Michael did not “always hang out with the other summer program kids,” because if he “only wanted to hang out with black and Latin students, I could have stayed home.” Nor did he appreciate what he saw as the reduction of possible social experiences which, as he put it, “reduces who you are to a few options. Yet there are so many different ways to be even Puerto Rican. It’s different if you’re from New York than if you’re from Puerto Rico.” As my interviewees were mostly women, I know less about how men see themselves as culture makers. Women told me that social options were gendered. Having a range of options (to paraphrase Michael) did seem both more important and more possible for men of color, who could join sports teams and fraternities. I talked to enough male students to know that racial markedness could get under their

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skin, but most seemed less likely to respond through identity crafting. I think this is truer of straight than gay men, based on the few gay men of color I interviewed, such as Joseph and David. I asked Angela why finding men to interview was so difficult. She answered succinctly, “Um, guys talk to guys,” elaborating: I know guys talk to guys about these kinds of things. And I know guys who are friends who sit around and talk about this kind of stuff, but they tend to do it with themselves. And guys—I can speak for black men—they have a lot of pressure on them, and they have a lot of racism they experience and a lot of things that don’t work for them. But they’re still able more than women to get past it. Because guys will be guys. And there’s more guy things you do that don’t matter what race you are, that they do together, like sports or cars. Guys have these guy things that go across culture in ways, in all this, more than women do. So, I know the men I know have more people that they know who aren’t like just in their club than women do. And guys don’t get as close to each other, so they can have all these different people around them– OK, these are the guys I play ball with, these are the guys I do this with, and they’re just the guys. That’s just who they are. But when they’re with their women is when you can find other parts.

Through compartmentalizing their social lives, men can narrow their presentation of a marked self to a select few venues, which does not generally include the cultural organizations. Several of the women I spoke to pointed out how hard it was to get most men of color to take an active part (besides attending parties) in the BSO or LSO. The OP summer program has long been central in building social relations among black, Latino, and Asian students, often extended into the cultural organizations. As David put it, “I found a community in the OP community because we were all more or less in the same boat—we shared the same anxieties, the same nervousness in the classroom.” The effect can also be polarizing, as Alicia notes: Most of the people there will be minorities from your same kind of economic group, same background. So, it serves to even push you more toward hanging out or interacting more with minority people when you get out from there … You feel almost defensive when you’re coming from there, and then a lot of people here, white people, will assume that you’re minority, … [and that] you came in that program, the school’s doing it as a favor, that we don’t deserve to be here. And you get even more defensive from that, like you’ve

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got to prove yourself. I find that a lot of these kids come with the mentality of “us” against “them.”

And not without reason. Jared spells out how, through racialized perceptions, you get clumped into these groups where you’re just considered whatever minority is on campus, either in the OP or Posse. There was actually an interesting—well not interesting but sad—display of this, where there was a dispute in the dining hall with a student who got into a verbal argument with one of the cooks, I want to say. And it was a heated argument and at the end of the argument he [the student] was like, “well I’m going to tell Ms. Warwick,” who at the time was the coordinator of the OP. And it turns out she [the cook] was a Posse student. So, it turns out if you’re not in one group you’re in the other, and maybe she might have been neither. But he made that assumption based on the fact that she was a minority, and that’s the two groups that bring minorities on campus.

Marked students see sources of connection other than physical markers. Light-skinned, red-headed Julia came to see her persona as Latina in opposition to ‘white’: I kind of feel like if I put ‘white’ I’m really negating or rechazando my past, like my family … It seems like people that are black or that are Latin, are like “you are Latin, you are not white. Like no, what’s the matter with you?” And white people are like, “that’s interesting,” like they don’t really care which way I go … Like when I first started at college, the reason why I’m so “now I know I’m a Latina” is because one of my friends said to me, he’s a black man, he said, “I’m never going to marry a white girl.” I go, “You’re not?” He goes, “No, I’m never going to marry a white girl.” I said, “No, there’s no chance for us.” He said, “Julia, you’re not white, you’re Latina.” And I was like, “Oh, OK.” And that’s really what opened up my eyes: white is a not just a color, it’s race.

Julia had to work at learning to be Latina, particularly as most LSO members were at that time Puerto Rican and Dominican New Yorkers. But she pushed herself to speak Spanish much more than she had, served as LSO president, and took coursework on Latino issues. Over her four years, she found that solidarity with college friends mattered, however their backgrounds and looks and variety of Spanish might differ. In such ways, being Latina came to make

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sense and acquire value, a process that took place over the duration of her college career. Crafting one’s own markedness produces a ‘culture’ about which one ‘educates the community’ (the unmarked). Such ‘educating’ involves, in Goffman’s (1959) terms, frontstage work, presentation management to minimize markedness for unmarked interlocutors. Such work can be tiring. It is also done much more by women than men, as female organization members often pointed out. But that same culture is also deeply felt to be one’s own, brought from home and shared with family and friends. The referent culture may appear discrete, objectified, and possessable, but it is used in different ways. Educating the community about one’s culture as a contribution to the institution may signify alignment with a neoliberal perspective. But students talking about their own culture signify alignment with each other through a deep attachment to their social history, to the very elements that can be read as marked. As culture providers, marked students embody their culture. Its institutional value lies in its capacity to be offered for consumption in discrete and ‘authentic’ forms (food, music, performance), like the Québécois national culture analyzed by Handler (1988), augmented by a neoliberalized and globalized notion of culture as a possessable, marketable skill set (Gershon 2008, Dávila 2008). As such, culture takes on value to outsiders insofar as it fits the structurally available slots in modern ‘acultural’ institutions. As higher education is a site for producing the rational, culture provision must support that production. To the extent that culture providers fulfill this function, they perform markedness in an unmarked frame, and thus contain it. But so long as something remains recognizable as ‘culture,’ some markedness remains. Both unmarked and marked students see it that way. This was made clear to me in several interview comments about the unlikeliness of ‘white culture,’ or as Janet put it: “They particularly use white culture? The two words together? I’ve never heard of that!” At the same time, the culture that students create is a system of interpreting and understanding who they are and what they say and do; that very semiotic process makes it real to them. It can include elements not part of their pre-college life, like meanings of Latinidad learned from professors they value. Older elements can take on new meaning: dance, food, music, and language that may have been taken for granted at home become connections to home, to share with new friends. Thus, Alicia does her best to get her roommate and other friends to LSO parties:

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I feel I’m teaching them. I’ve taught them a lot about Hispanic culture. I drag them over to [our] parties and events. I’m always playing merengue, I taught all of them to dance merengue. They’re like up to here with my merengue. I’m always speaking Spanish, and with my mother, and they love it. I feel I’ve been very instrumental in teaching them, because they’ve never been around a culture … My roommate’s from Vermont, and where she’s from, I don’t think she’s ever seen a Dominican except for me.

Rita’s sense of being Filipina clarifies the importance of family-based continuity, however marked that might be: For me I think it’s something people seem to categorize, as like backward or indigenous. Something that’s kind of rooted toward rituals and obviously not the norm or the white culture. I guess going back to ways of life, family, traditions, different ideologies, like I know we were talking in my class today about families in the Philippines, you live with your family, you don’t move out of your home after college. You go back home, and you raise your family with the parent and the grandparent in the house, you don’t separate yourself.

For Niki, culture is something to hold onto in an often difficult environment: Having a culture? It’s more so identity, keeping your identity as a group of people in a certain place. Like at the College, I feel like I haven’t lost my culture, I’m the same person, like cultural identity, the four years I have been here. And I haven’t denied any aspect of my culture, or whatever. I haven’t made excuses either. I try to explain certain issues to people and they can just take it however they want to take it … I love my culture. I’m not giving it up.

Objectified as Niki’s references to culture may seem, what she describes is alive, and links to a world where markedness loses its bite. Much of the work of culture-making takes place in the cultural organizations. Most students interviewed here were active in them, and the bureaucratization of culture production is clear in their descriptions of their work, as we saw in the previous chapter: recruiting members, organizing meetings, budgeting, programming, buying and cooking food, bringing speakers and performers, arranging publicity, preparing and setting up events and cleaning up after, working with student assembly, coordinating events with other college organizations or groups on other college campuses. It is hard work getting

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unmarked students to attend their events, especially as, unlike Greek societies, college-funded organizations do not serve alcohol at their events. The students who do this work do want to meet the expectations of administrators they respect. But there are also limits, as Ely explains: Ms. Wells wants everyone to be involved and more active on campus. And I don’t see anything wrong with that because I think we should be involved in this campus because it is our campus. But I don’t understand how they want us to be that involved or how to educate people. We can only do so much. Just because there’s twenty of us here, we don’t have all the information to say “okay, we’re going to teach you everything about Latinos,” because our experiences [as individuals] have been different … we can share as much as we possibly can generally, but we can’t educate the whole community.

And, as Aaron explains, administrative expectations too often outweigh student preferences: I would say, as much as I would like to go against it, the charge of the BSO is to provide the diversity programming for the College. Despite what the students want to do, we still have to get our budget approved so we can get our programming approved, and if we don’t fit into the mold of well, how is this going to affect the campus as opposed to an insular event, we can’t really do it unless—well, what’s the College campus benefiting from, in you doing this event? So, I know that the charge of the organization is to pretty much—it’s institution driven, it’s driven by the administration.7

No matter how their mission statements may have been worded over the years, the BSO and LSO members with whom I spoke see ‘having a culture’ in political terms. Both organizations were founded (in the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, respectively) with the idea of giving a campus voice to underrepresented people. At a late 2010s event celebrating its 35th year, the LSO founders confirmed their original emphasis on activism. The fact that current mission statements have grown more explicitly political may reflect the frustrations that also led to the Collective forming in the mid-2010s. Certainly, as Bianca suggests, there are administrators who have found the culture provided by the BSO and LSO too ‘urban,’ and who would have preferred more self-paying ‘minority’ students who were also less culturally active to fill out the diversity demographics:8

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There’s this assumption that if people– that if minorities are admitted to the school and there’s a certain amount of financial assistance they would require, let’s say that assumption goes out the window and we deal with, OK, well why don’t we admit like the higher end, the high-income minorities. And then they come here and then they act white, and they’re really not … active minorities … they [the College] don’t want to admit the minorities that are more active from urban areas who really identify with their culture because there’s all these expectations and assumptions—so it’s like around the wheel and around the wheel.

In other words, Bianca concluded, they would not fund students to just come and ‘clump.’ Aaron, describing his job of budget administrator for the BSO, similarly observed that, while the college is generous in its funding, the sense I got from that was … we [the College] are satisfying our diversity component so it doesn’t hurt us to lose this amount of money to pretty much placate or appease the people of color at the College, so that we [students of color] don’t look to complain about diversity because of the fact that they’re giving us a sum of money to do what we want with it for diversity programming.

Students who saw their identity in political terms were also willing to do committee work, which siphoned time and energy from schoolwork but did at least provide a chance to give input into college decisions, as Dora said of her work on a presidential search committee: I was the student representative, so I read résumés and CVs, and I interviewed different candidates for the position. We did a couple of different rounds of interviews. I was able to ask questions … [and] I was asked questions by the candidates. And I sat in the meetings to discuss, after we had just finished an interview … Whenever I was extra quiet, they would call on me and make sure I had something to say. So, I definitely feel I was as much a member of that group as anybody else was. I must admit it was a little intimidating because there were a lot of trustees on the committee, and I have a problem articulating what I have to say—at least that’s what I think. And so, a lot of times I do stay quiet because of that. But they did make sure I spoke up, so that was good.

Dora was not the only student of color with an intense list of commitments. Ariel described her service résumé for her first and second

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years: Class of ’07 representative and Diversity and Disabilities chair on the student government; Coalition for Social Justice; president of the BSO (whose perspectives “are totally different from Student Assembly on which I am the only woman of color on that body”); Tae Kwan Do (“really the only organization where I got to sit back and have fun”); Intercultural Women Empowerment Series (sustained by a faculty grant) “to build coalition with women on this campus” through workshops on topics including “sexuality and sexual empowerment, and communication in relationships” and “breaking down the -isms between white women and women of color”; choir (which she also sees as a locus of “coalition building on a very subtle level”); Harassment Grievance Board and the Library Task Force; and, on top of all that, fourteen hours of work-study.

Standing Outside the Taxonomy: Another Kind of Markedness International students occupy a different position and are marked in different ways. They stand outside US taxonomies generally, although they are counted as ‘diverse’—which is to say, the percentage of the student body who are ‘international citizens’ is listed on the “fast facts” page as part of the college’s ‘diversity’ in a two-line description following the number of states and countries represented in the student body, and the percentage of the student body consisting of US students of color. Their organization, the ISO, is funded through student government. Interviewees Elena (from Eastern Europe), Jean (Western Europe), Joseph (British West Indies), and Maryam (Gulf States) attended the College in the mid-1990s to mid-2000s. They made several common points: international students seemed to be largely background ornaments in college life; few students, faculty, or administrators were all that curious about them or where they came from; they were largely recruited as achievers whose grades boosted the College’s Grade Point Average (GPA) and thus its reputation. Although some international students pay full tuition, many do not, instead receiving financial aid packages, which means they work a lot of campus jobs and are thus perceived as working all the time, which further backgrounds them. As Elena put it, international students at the College seemed only to “matter on paper”: I’m saying that neither at that official level nor at the practical does the fact that we’re international make that much of a difference …

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Rarely do American students even realize where we come from, or have any interest whatsoever, which in a sense would be the idea, that international students would come and share their heritage and their culture and their experience with the American students, and so on and so forth.

Moreover, many American students seem to prefer ignoring the fact that people who did not grow up in the United States might speak a language other than English. This reality does not intrude all that often. Besides the fact that many international students are Canadian and British native English speakers, most of those whose native language is not English have had thorough English language education, often in international baccalaureate programs, and often with little if any ‘foreign’ accent. Nor are they often heard to speak in their own language, as they would find few fellow speakers. And, as Maryam observed, “If you speak a foreign language, like something besides English, people automatically see you as different.” She added that American students largely ignore a language they can’t understand and that American friends could not understand her fondness for music with words in languages she did not herself know, a common taste where she grew up. She and Elena both reported surprised comments from Americans about how “good” their English was, though with differences. Elena reported American comments on her accent as “cute” or “hot” which meant that it was ornamental if it was no effort to understand, whereas Maryam reported surprised reactions that she spoke Arabic because she had “no accent.” Jean did a course project on international students’ perceptions of American students’ perceptions of international students. His interviewees reported American students reacting to their differences in accent and interaction style as “miscommunication” (and not just different).9 American students thought foreign speakers should work to control those differences, excusing themselves from having to expend effort to understand or accommodate them. Not terribly surprisingly, when Jean asked the Dean of Students Office if he could make the result of this research available in pamphlet form for incoming international students, the answer was that it was “too negative.” Such responses to accent parallels more general responses to visual cues. Maryam described a reaction from someone who had just learned she was, as she said, “Arab”: And he was like “Oh, you don’t look it” and then all of them were like, “yeah, you don’t look it” and I was like, “no, I do!” … And then,

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what’s so funny is, my friend went on trying to make me feel better– “no, no, really, I would never be able to tell, I swear.” And I was like, “no, I’m not embarrassed, I want to look a little Arab, I hope I do.” And he was like “No, you don’t, if I saw you, I wouldn’t have thought you were any different than any American here.”

Maryam said she often got comments like “‘I wouldn’t be able to tell’ or ‘oh, you look normal.’” A great deal could be said about this expression of disbelief that one could be marked without looking or sounding marked. I will focus on how appallingly unable too many privileged Americans are to accept anything marked, even when they think they are being ‘broad-minded’ (as her interlocutors doubtless did), and how much they expect the marked to unmark themselves so they would not feel uncomfortable.10 Elena thought that American students generally avoided understanding international students on their own terms: “We do get put in certain categories that Americans can handle, because they’re somehow represented in US society, and when it gets more problematic is when we don’t fit in any of these categories.” She gave an example of this from her experience as a tutor in the college writing center. The standard format was to have students provide an introductory paragraph with a thesis statement, reinforced by the topic sentences of succeeding paragraphs. Any other format was not simply different but wrong: So, it’s very interesting how these notions of writing and structuring knowledge and meaning have to fit the particular code. What would be wrong about the French students doing it their own way? They’re just visiting students here, right? Why wouldn’t a faculty member be flexible enough to adapt to the fact that, no, they have no thesis at the beginning of their introductory paragraph.11

She gave another example from her first-year orientation: One of the orientation leaders told me from the very first week on campus that this is a place where you have to make it work for you, you have to take what’s here and make it work for you as an international student, as someone who’s diverse, who’s different.

In both these comments we see the institutional attitude that it is up to the marked to accommodate the unmarked. Another informative take on only fitting into categories that Americans can handle is provided

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by Joseph, who was continually pigeonholed as African American and had to explain that British West Indian is not African American, and the West Indies is not all Jamaica either. Because the College has connections with his home island, he, as an OIA student-employee, was often asked to represent it at trustee events. But that ended up not being about him but about the College: It’s like “yes, we’re doing all these wonderful things, look at him, and he’s involved in this and he’s involved in that, and blah blah blah.” And it’s all so very exotic. “Oh, you’re from a tropical island. Oh, how lovely, do you all speak English?”

When he was not framed as international, he was read as African American, as in a choir performance in a nearby town where he also overheard someone reading him as a sign of the College’s beneficence: And the woman two persons down from me was turning to a friend of hers and was like “Oh, isn’t this College just lovely? We’re making such wonderful strides, look, there’s even an African American in the choir.”

To return to black foreignness, “do you all speak English,” and the reframing of interpretation, Joseph describes getting a grade of C on two written assignments. When he went to discuss the grade, the professor told Joseph, “I wasn’t aware that your first language was English.” In fact, Joseph’s variety was closer to British English than that of his professor. Joseph said that his next paper grade was A–. The very terms multicultural and diversity were not pertinent to the experience of foreign students. Maryam said: “So those terms were totally new to me when I came here. I didn’t know what they were supposed to really mean, or what they included. I think that international students here sometimes don’t fit into ‘diversity.’” At home, she added, the usual term was international. Nor did people “talk a lot about the sort of idea of ‘respecting’ it or everyone to get together, this kind of like ‘we all want to be together as a community.’” Maryam raises the same point that Lee (2016) raised about Linden College: the ideology of a college ‘community’ in which everyone is different in the same way. Joseph first encountered the terms multicultural and diverse at orientation. He first encountered the OMB race/ethnic terms while filling out his college application and visa application. His problem was:

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OK, so which one of these do I fit into? And then it was sort of like, well just put that because that’s what they expect. Because my parents, when I was filling out this stuff, were like, “well I don’t know what that means.” For example, where it says Asian American or Pacific Islander, what is that to me?

Even being ‘white’ is not all that simple as Elena explains: I’m white. However, I’m Eastern European and I don’t fit easily into US notions of Eastern European immigrants. I really don’t fit into what Americans think of as “Oh, I’m of Polish descent, we make kielbasa and eat this and that.”

As Maryam’s observations above indicate, there is some tension between identifying as white and identifying as Arab. She commented on Americans she had met who had a Lebanese or Palestinian or Syrian parent or grandparent, and who seemed shy about identifying as Arab. And though she often saw area residents who she was sure were of Arab ancestry (the local area has a long history of Lebanese and Syrian settlement), it seemed to her that, “if anything, they’re very tight-knit in their own communities, but they don’t expose themselves, they don’t go around saying ‘oh, I’m proud to be—’ … for some reason, I feel there’s more of a stigma about that here in America.” Although this conversation preceded the World Trade Center attacks, US hostility toward the Arab world had been growing for decades, so her observation had some real foundation. Elena first thought that the Americans she met simply lacked exposure to difference, but she came to see class also playing a role: As time went by and I got to know American families better, I realized that most of them come from privileged, upper or middle class— though this notion of everybody being middle class in American kind of troubles me—coming from upper middle-class families. And they don’t even realize that the way that they belong to this class makes them be oblivious to differences, whether social or cultural.

Elena’s point is important: ‘middle class’ is not a precise designator of economic status but it carries a great deal of weight as an ideological element of American social identity.12 Middle class is a position of normality, of unmarkedness, from which one need not accommodate or even recognize difference. By and large, international students are assumed to be ‘middle class’ and therefore to ‘belong’ at the college

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in ways that ‘diverse’—racially marked—students do not. Another example is provided by Maryam, from a conversation with a white American student who had been complaining about the college’s emphasis on diversity: [He] was like “I don’t know, I don’t like this,” but then … he goes “but no, no offense to you, you’re international, it’s different. You’re here because you’re smart” … And I was like, “Oh, my God,” and he was like “but other people, they’re here because they’re getting a free ride, because they’re—this whole ‘we need diversity.’” So, I wasn’t included in diversity then, because I was international, and internationals are automatically very smart people … I actually wanted to say, because he was a football player, I was like, well, “I don’t know how you got here but you probably did because you play football, you’re not that bright either.” But never mind, I’m not going to get into that discussion.

Both Maryam and Joseph got involved in various cultural organizations but had trouble finding a place that fit because they were not American. Joseph said being the only black male on his floor did draw him back to the BSO because, as both he and Maryam noted, its members did talk about US social issues. But in the end, it was hard to penetrate what amounted to an American obsession with being American. Elena said her closest friends were other international students. Joseph said, “I found much more of a community and much more support with … international students, because here we were all outsiders, culturally … as opposed to race.” Would I have found this same degree of outside-looking-in had I interviewed Canadian or British students, who are, to US students, very unmarked as ‘foreign’ students? Perhaps not to the same extent, but informal conversations with such students over the years suggest to me that they too found many aspects of US residential liberal arts to be, shall I say, insular.

Conclusion: Once Again, the More Things Change … The Collective formed in the mid-2010s precisely because of the issues spelled out in this chapter. In the document listing their concerns, they led with the importance of awareness and understanding for the concerns of all marginalized campus groups. Everything specified in the document speaks to the experience of disconnection and microaggression. They asked for two reforms: a required course addressing

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structural inequalities, and the formation of a student–faculty board to address incidents, which would meet regularly with the president, dean of students, and alumni of color representatives. The course requirement does exist (see Chapter 6). The board, to my knowledge, does not. I cannot say how those reforms would have changed students’ experience, but the fact that they were asked for suggests that the experience of the students asking for them would not look good on the website. Conversations, classroom discussions, and course papers throughout the 2010s told of continuing incidents like those described by this chapter’s interviewees. These included a few angles I had not heard before: a Posse retreat discussion of students of color ‘code-switching’ their demeanor to sound and act less marked (and correspondingly less like themselves) in spaces dominated by white students; a few women of color deciding to make a point of getting a table in a pub space usually occupied by white males, explaining what they were doing, and then taken to task in a school paper editorial for assuming they were being excluded when there was no explicit statement of exclusion; and a college ‘town hall’ meeting to discuss student concerns including racism, mental health and sexual assault, during which discussion, the latter two received much more attention than the first, despite attempts by students of color to redirect the conversation.13 In 2017, I presented an overview of this book project to a couple of focus groups of black and Latinx students, who said that such incidents keep happening. There were still Posse–OP competitive tensions. The College still saw diversity in terms of numbers and imagery posted to the website. Their own control over programming had grown even more constrained since the diversity center was established. Although they were allowed organizational space in the old Black and Latino house, there were now increasing limits on when they could use it because campus security had designated it a ‘classroom building,’ making it less accessible to students. They were frustrated by their limited opportunities to represent the school in admissions tours, in which students are asked to draw on their own experience (within limits set by Admissions, and emphasized in training sessions), as few students of color are selected to serve as tour guides. Few white tour guides were likely to know or say much about the diversity center, especially as it does not have the word “diversity” in its title. They commented on OIA routinely photographing their organizational activities, an especially sore point: they have little control over space for themselves, they face more programming obstacles than they used

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to, few can serve as tour guides, and yet they are expected to provide marketing material with minimal say over how they are represented. Thus, a quarter century after I began this study, the routine experience of social markedness, especially race, has changed much less than the ‘diversity’ numbers and website narratives suggest. It has remained up to students who are marked to demonstrate that they add value to the institution, the same students whose institutional life is constrained in ways generally unacknowledged, and who deal routinely with microaggressions that most of their white classmates do not even see. International students are similarly expected to add value, and they certainly encounter unnerving not to mention uninformed reactions, but they are not similarly embedded in US structures of racism. LGBTQ students are in an even more anomalous position, least likely to be acknowledged as visibly part of the college, so with little place in the marketing metanarrative. Nor is there any national standard for referring expressions comparable to the OMB (or Affirmative Action) classifiers. Identifying as LGBTQ makes one likely to be seen only in gender terms,14 and may make one a target of harassment and moralistic stigmatizing and disapprobation, possibly by sources that might carry weight with some college stakeholders. Education and safe space take on urgency and, as we heard in the previous chapter from the College’s first CDO, LGBTQ students in particular were not getting that from Student Life. It does not have to be that way. There are policies and interventions that can benefit marked students without focusing on advertising, looking good to stakeholders, or playing to the comfort zone of the unmarked. For LGBTQ students, an excellent example is a project started by College alumna Gillian while still a student, and since developed into a workshop with language work and exercises through which people can come to understand how differences in sexual orientation or gender identity can affect one’s goals and relationships, and change how the world might appear. And, as Gillian pointed out, while the workshop would not boost any school’s position in the rankings, it could benefit a school’s reputation as LGBTQ-friendly. As to everyday inequities, there are internal structural interventions that can help, starting with instituting the message that it is not the job of the marked to make the unmarked more comfortable. No one should interpellated to do that job, to provide culture or leadership to the institution to confirm they deserve to be there or to make the institution look good. Having students do so is not ‘changemaking.’

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The insides of higher education institutions are pretty much overdetermined, and students are in no position to change them, however hard they try. Nor does an institution or any organization have the right to take credit for students making such effort. The real cost of marked students ‘bringing culture’ to a supposedly acultural modern institution is its reinforcement of the position of unmarked hegemony.

Notes   1. Parts of this chapter appear in Urciuoli 2016 and 2018b. For elaboration on cultural diversity, see Urciuoli 2009.   2. Spanish or Spanish people was (and perhaps still is) a common self-identifier among people of Latin American or Hispanophone Caribbean background. I heard it routinely during fieldwork in New York in the 1970s and 1980s.   3. As this suggests, Latin was sometimes used interchangeably with Latino.   4. Khia is quite correct. The 2020 census form lists the following race identifiers: White; Black or African American; American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian subdivided into Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Other Asian; Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander subdivided into Samoan, Chamorro, Other Pacific Islander.   5. See Torres 2009: 894 for the same response to the same question at a similar college.   6. See Torres 2009: 893ff. for very similar commentary, especially about J. Crew and North Face.   7. Hovering implicitly over cultural provision is a sense of quid pro quo: you have financial aid, so you do this in return. By contrast, the Posse trade-off is explicit: we brought you here, so you perform leadership.   8. Recall that the diversity center was founded without the word ‘Diversity’ in its title.   9. Semiotically, accents are not reducible to pronunciation difference. They reflect how those judging accents see themselves as well as the person whose accent they are judging; see Urciuoli 1996: 121ff. 10. Although not quite the same, Maryam’s acquaintance saying he could not tell Maryam was foreign recalls Janelle’s roommate saying she did not see Janelle as black. 11. This one-pattern-fits-all operating procedure of the writing center was also a sore point for many departments. 12. For further discussion, see Urciuoli 1996: 28–29. 13. Thanks to Hyein Kim for bringing these to my attention. 14. Lee and LaDousa (2014a) chart how LGBTQ students juggle new spaces for identity with concerns about being identified only in gender terms, especially pigeonholed in gay-specific roles such as the ‘gay friend’ to straights.


Students Just Wanna Have Fun rrr

What is college life like for unmarked students, and how do marked students fit into it? Students of color and LGBTQ and international students may be institutionally encouraged to craft their markedness into design features for the ‘college community,’ but that is not the same as fitting into unmarked social life, especially as unmarked student life has many elements that college administrators would prefer not to exist and that college marketers ignore. For students of color, that social life is what Janelle was talking about in the previous chapter when she said, “I mean, it’s really white.” Elite college culture is not an undifferentiated mass of rich, white, heteronormative maleness. Whiteness, straightness, Americanness, and economic advantage are positions of symbolic capital reflecting social capital. People who have a lot of such capital tend to see their position as natural, and so to a great extent do those without. Not all the unmarked are equally privileged, and not all the privileged see their privilege as right and natural. Some white students have never encountered very well-off people before entering college. Some straight white American students, even well-off ones, try to examine, understand, and even critique their own privilege. But many do not, and no one has to. The one thing shared by everyone unmarked (by race or class in particular) is that they are so much less vulnerable to the constraints, obstacles, and booby traps routinely faced by marked people. As Janelle observed about the most obvious manifestation of unmarkedness, much of what gives that wall of whiteness its peculiar quality of intransigent cluelessness is class privilege. Students running up against it experience what sociologists Lee and Kramer (2013), building on Bourdieu, described as “cleft habitus,” a sense of weakened connection between the habitus of home and school. This is the flip side of what more privileged students experience as a continuity of home and school, the easy connectedness among families who ‘belong.’ We see this in the likelihood that middle-class white students

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are more likely to come from ‘college families’ who interconnect to provide post-college benefits. That can start in exclusive prep schools, as Khan (2011) shows. In these ways, well-off students can acquire the symbolic-capital-laden social experience and connections that provide a smooth transition to elite college sociality. Many find college through family and family friends who might well be alumni, perhaps generations of alumni. If they went to public high school, they probably went to well-resourced ones like that documented by Demerath (2009), where they learn not only to compete but to present themselves as individually successful—a point also covered made by Khan. Through family and friends, they have access to college-related cultural capital, some of it decidedly unacademic, shared among networks of social capital in the form of family, friends, and school contacts. Being unmarked means relatively easy access to informal social spaces (including private societies) that generate fancy symbolic capital unconnected to academics. Such value, readily recognizable among others from like backgrounds, is associated with but not actually generated by the institution: the ‘right’ fraternities can provide social capital found nowhere else in a college, and have done so for a long, long time. In his detailed ethnographic analysis of the structures of liberal arts fraternity life, Mirick (2003) shows the parallel operation of official campus structures and what he calls a ‘shadow campus’ of fraternity autonomy. Drawing on Turner’s (1969) notions of liminality and communitas, Mirick outlines the practices through which social bonds form, from pledging through alumni status, and he shows how fraternity life produces autonomy, unity, social capital, and meaning. The symbolic capital transmitted through fraternities is evident in the high proportion of fraternity alumni who become elected officials, CEOs, and other influential public figures, echoing Nicholas Murray Butler’s 1920s ideal of Columbia fraternity men as future leaders. The informal networks that start in college extend years, even decades, beyond into worlds of work and marriage. They are also documented and made more real in texts and images produced by the OIA’s alumni affairs staff, as in “class notes” sent in by class representatives, often with photographs, on the social, personal, and career doings of members of each graduating class. For years after graduation, it is possible to see who got what job, who married who, where, and who went to the wedding, who has how many kids, who lives where, and so on. All this feeds back into the school’s symbolic capital among its alumni and, along with its academics and reputation among donors, provides a foundation on which OIAs build fund-raising efforts, telling alumni,

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in effect, this is the world you loved, remember it when we ask for donations. And that works. But as we have seen, that does not work as easily for students of color, nor for other socially marked students.

Student Fun: A Brief History Students as outcomes to be managed and students as autonomous agents are ideas that have been in tension for a long time, certainly (as we saw in Chapter 1) since the curricular arguments of the nineteenth century, and doubtless before that. In Chapter 3, we saw how much that management has become the business of student life professionals. In this chapter, we take a long look at unmarked and unmanaged student sociality. Rudolph (1962) and Bledstein (1976) trace the history of residential life, discipline issues, and the history of fraternities. Horowitz (1987) provides a comprehensive history of US college students from the early nineteenth century, showing how “college men” and “college women” (unlike “outsiders” and “rebels”) define themselves as students by their investment in an autonomous and significant “college life,” and how they pass on that social order, maintaining an identity as apart as possible from administrators and faculty authority. Moffatt (1989) provides an extensive ethnography of student life in a large public university in the 1970s–1980s, when the growth in size and number of undergraduate institutions and programs reflected the massive increase in the proportion of US families whose children attended college. Nathan (2005) provides a similar participation-based account of a comparable university in the early 2000s. In both, we see how (now heavily professionalized) student life management is charged with creating ‘community,’ bringing much of what used to be autonomous, student-run extracurricular activities under administrative oversight. Students respond by pushing their spheres of autonomy further from college-identified activities or groups. Moffatt and Nathan both address the rhetoric of community and its disconnection from actual student life. Moffatt (1989: 71) describes the “officialese” that “emphasized student choice and … obfuscated deanly authority. Dorm floors should be ‘interdependent communities of caring individuals’ who ‘enhanced their college experiences’ together, the deans recommended.” The programming and other structured activities through which community is supposed to be fostered is the on-the-ground responsibility of student preceptors at Moffatt’s school, and of resident assistants at Nathan’s. Nathan also describes

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the orientation activities and mandatory first-year colloquium designed to inculcate ideas of community, citizenship, and diversity into incoming first years, much like the community-building activities assigned to RAs that we saw in Chapter 3. And as Chambliss and Takacs (2014) argue, official activities designed to elicit community behavior in students, however well-meaning, are not as effective as setting up possibilities for students to make productive decisions outside official programming, particularly choosing their friends independent of planned activities. Building on Moffatt’s observations, Nathan elaborates on the importance of ‘fun’ as a defining condition of college experience (Nathan 2005: 23). Fun is basically what we do not see Good Students doing. Nathan points out that the amount of time that students put into fun, at least at her university, is considerably less than one would expect, given how much students talk about it. But fun indexes the world of peers, following a direct line from the cultural patterns of nineteenth-century student life elaborated by Horowitz: a world of hedonism quite apart from and unspoken about to faculty or administrators “as markers of the real ‘college experience’” (ibid.: 108). The archetypal locus of autonomy and fun is the Greek letter private society, which even for non-members can dominate the social scene. Still, the sphere of student autonomy may be more promising as an ideal than a lived reality, perhaps because it is embedded in a hyper-scheduled, heavily managed and inevitably fragmented contemporary institution. Blum (2016) questions the idea that conventional academic inculcation can possibly be as meaningful or even central to student life in college as it is generally imagined to be by faculty (or administrators, or concerned adults generally). Faculty, like student life professionals, tend to believe that students can be ‘trained’ out of problematic ways of being, which makes ‘fun’ the enemy. But as Blum points out, the real problem is not understanding what kind of learning is meaningful to students. Training and classroom content that focuses on future outcomes is much less meaningful than the engagement embedded in the here-and-now sociality that comes with deeply absorbing activities, an absorption that can make time seem to stop, and that Blum identifies with the psychological notion of ‘flow’ (ibid.: 157). What matters about student notions of fun is less the activities identified with it and more an intense sense of ‘fun’ as the flip side of such controlling inculcation, perhaps even more so for people perched between childhood and adulthood in a liminal situation with not that many options.

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Based on participant-observation research in twelve selective undergraduate colleges and university programs, Seaman (2005) suggests that the intense and fragmented nature of student social life may reflect more general societal conditions of fragmentation. He charts the ever-expanding menus of consumer choice of activities and products, and the profusion of social and personal complications that characterize students’ lives. He also charts, from observation and interviews supplemented by news stories, the ways in which student practices like ‘pre-gaming’ and ‘hooking up’ push notions of ‘choice’ to, and often beyond, the limits that administrators, faculty, and parents would consider sense, such practices becoming a fetish of autonomy. He also shows where autonomy clashes sharply with administrative regulation on race and gender issues, often leading to actions defended by students as ‘harmless,’ but with offensive or potentially offensive outcomes. He gives the example of a problematic editorial cartoon depiction of a generic black person in the Indiana Daily Student (ibid.: 143ff); later in this chapter we will see problematic race and gender theming at a couple of student parties. Such instances readily sprout where autonomy and privilege combine in a closed ‘figured’ world. Students develop their sense of who they are and what they can do in what Holland and her co-authors describe as figured worlds, “a socially and culturally constructed realm of interpretation in which particular characters and actors are recognized, significance is assigned to certain acts, and particular outcomes are valued over others” (Holland et al. 1998: 52). Holland et al. emphasize the psychological and emotional salience of figured worlds as shared and interactive, bringing into play the location and enactment of agency and identity-formation through Bakhtinian self-fashioning or self-authoring from key positions within social activities (ibid.: 169ff). Figured worlds are chronotopic, their constitutive social relations anchored in shared time and place. Thinking about student life in these terms emphasizes how identity and agency operate as lived experience: evolving, fluid, openended, and relative.1 Students’ social lives are organized around what Nathan (2005: 55) calls “ego-centered networks”—personal networks of friends among whom there are constant interactions, which surely serve as entry points to students’ figured worlds. Interestingly, people in the same networks can move at the same time among contrastive figured worlds, as we see in two student ethnographies done at the College. In one world, Fieldhouse (2010) examines narratives of college ‘fun’ as drinking and sex. In another, Gordon (2010) examines students earnestly learning and practicing TESOL methods. Yet as Fieldhouse

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and Gordon both confirmed, the same students might readily inhabit both worlds, and in some cases did. In the first, they live in a present world of fun; in the second, they live in a practicing-for-the-future world learning to see themselves as experts. Both are budding modes of American adulthood, and both are about operating as individual agents. Performance is key to the agency of ‘fun.’ LaDousa (2011) examines the performance of college fun through the medium of signs on student rental houses at Miami University of Ohio. These house signs (examples include Octopussy, Sex on the Beech, Liquor Up Front, Poker in the Rear) are characterized by word play on sex, liquor, and related themes, plus references to popular culture elements (James Bond movies) and local places (Beech Street). Most important, the signs are meant to be ‘fun’—not overexplained, not taken too seriously. Reviewing the literature on the history of student life (some of which is covered above), LaDousa notes that while forms of college fun may shift, the notion has been around a long time, part of the liminal quality of the college years, and the indeterminacy of one’s status as a budding adult. LaDousa notes the metacultural organization (Urban 2001) of the performance of fun—the cultural practices that point to an organizing pattern for performing and interpreting an important practice. In house signs, the important metacultural elements include their playful punning deployment of transgressive elements, and the ‘just-a-joke’ attitude toward the contents. Skating as close as possible to (or sometimes over) the edge, playful elaboration of form, a ‘don’t-take-it-seriously’ sensibility, and a clear distancing from academics and administrators, have long characterized college sociality. While many students do not claim some or all those values, what matters is that such notions and performances characterize autonomous student social forms (whether formalized as private societies or informally as off-campus living arrangements) and the ways of acting associated with them in a liminal space–time envelope. Demonstrating such sociality becomes a sign of belonging ‘inside’ such a figured world. Acting like an insider can create or reinforce one’s self-definition, aligning one’s own subjectivity with one’s fellow insiders. The performative work through which such belonging emerges is grounded in masses of interpretive connections—indexes— specific to that world, to the point where it is highly unlikely that participants could, even if they wanted to, identify or explain them all. This is true not only of student figured worlds but of any of the figured worlds that we all, as humans, belong to: we all inhabit worlds

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drenched in indexes of familiarity and belonging. What makes all those worlds different from each other is their metasemiotic organization, their overall patterns guiding specific interpretations, which we experience as ‘culture.’ And as LaDousa shows, in the metasemiotics of ‘fun,’ overinterpretation destroys the whole point. Whether all students can or even want to live in this figured world, it is very hard to ignore. Elite college culture is more than generic youth culture. It involves a lot of selection, such as the awareness of certain styles and name brands as signs of unmarked belonging, as Richard told us about in his pledging ‘costume’ of polo shirt and khakis, and the compliments on his ‘new look.’ Such indexes come with the habitus. The hegemony of unmarkedness in youth culture, reinforced by market forces, starts early. Its force in college is exacerbated for many students because the social playing field is so uneven. Some young people have a comfortable head start on college life subjectivity because they have already learned a comfortable agency in compatible figured worlds. They easily connect with people ‘like them’ in ways, many hard to spot, that can substantially set them apart from students of less privileged status who see their own interactions with ‘insiders’ in ways that ‘insiders’ generally do not. An outside perspective often makes it possible to understand such interactions in terms of defining common elements lost to ‘inside’ perspectives, recognizing how and where ‘the same kinds of things’ get said about and to students of color, as we saw in the previous chapter. Such patterns of circulating discourse in these distinct social envelopes play a key part in shaping racial subjectivities, as Dick and Wirtz (2011) show.2 Being racially unmarked generally means growing up in structures that shape access to resources, opportunity, property, capital, and wealth.3 Growing up in privileged structures especially shapes perceptions of difference as structures of feelings (Williams 1977: 128–35), as in the previous chapter: “too bad you’re black” or “I don’t think of you as X.” Such judgment-making points to those doing so also distancing themselves from even acknowledging their own perception of race (or any form of marked difference), an ideology of ‘color-blindness’ critiqued by Bonilla-Silva (2003), Bush (2004), and Chase (2010).4 Students from less privileged worlds cannot so ignore the effects of privileged sociality. Being 17–22 years old, they too would like to be able to relax and have some fun. But it is hard to find a way into an unfamiliar habitus on unfamiliar footing, especially for students so extensively interpellated to act a type (“diverse leaders”) to maintain their value to the college.

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Imagine social connections as an unevenly woven fabric. Where connections are tight and interaction frequent, that fabric is densely woven. Where connections are looser and interaction less frequent, the fabric’s weave is more open. Where it is denser, the social signs connecting people to each other (indexicality) become mutually reinforcing and powerfully cumulative as is the situation among those sharing a figured world: they ‘read’ each other more often and more accurately, and they manage their footing more easily, their sense of alignment played out in how they manage what they say and how they act (Goffman 1981: 124ff). This density characterizes the figured world shared by unmarked students, and the figured world shared by marked students. It does not characterize relations across those worlds, where the fabric is looser and where indexical interpretation becomes more hit and miss. Marked and unmarked students can read some but not all of each other’s indexicality. It is much easier to miss their footing, and the consequences of missed footing are tougher for the marked. The sense of a ‘thick weave’ of privilege among students also connects them to a world of privilege outside the college, unlike the world of the less privileged. And where their world is administratively mediated, they have fewer and thinner ties to the more privileged student world. So, students in the less privileged world end up doing most of the weaving to connect themselves to the world of greater privilege. When, in the last chapter, Karen spoke in terms of ‘underprivileged,’ she was spot on.

Private Societies and Sociality To understand how that intense sense of connection forms, let us hear from society members about what societies mean to them and why they joined.5 As of 2020, there are twelve private societies at the College: four sororities (formed in the 1980s and 1990s) and eight fraternities (some dating from the mid-1800s). There have been as many as seven sororities and nine fraternities, including, at points from the 1990s to the 2010s, a Latino fraternity, a multicultural sorority, and a specifically Latina sorority. The older societies tend to be larger and better funded. The multicultural and Latino/a societies were small. Since the late 2000s, all private societies have been urged by the administration to emphasize an orientation toward philanthropic activity, but as Ms. Julian, then director of student activities whose job included oversight of private society activities, told me, sororities have always had that orientation. She also pointed out that the smaller the society, the more limited their programming options, the more sweat

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equity is invested by the members, and the more events are co-programmed and co-hosted with other societies. As she said: We’ve got a very small campus, and historically black or Latino/a sororities and fraternities won’t colonize here because they don’t think that our numbers will support it. So luckily there are schools nearby where our students can join off-campus organizations. Short of that, [the multicultural sorority] formed as a way to bring that to our campus. So, they’re local. I worry about them though because … their alumni support is limited because they’ve only graduated two or three classes. And they’re very, very small. And they don’t have any national support or local support.

How do private society members see all this? Whatever their size or demographics, what society members value is an existence at least theoretically independent of the college. This theme emerged consistently in focus groups (mid-late 2000s) with members of the intersociety (fraternity–sorority) council and of two sororities. Here, five members (all white) of the school’s intersociety council— Jacob, Dylan, Leah, Emma, and Susan—describe how they thought private societies were perceived by other students. All agreed that college students are naturally cliquish, and that non-members (‘independents’) who singled out private societies as cliquish were unfair and probably jealous. Jacob: I think it’s kind of—maybe not a jealousy but a difference that is definitely apparent. You can note it when people speak about it if they’re independent. Dylan: I’d say that the school is predominantly made up by cliques, just some are labeled, and some are not. So, I’d just say it’s fairly natural for kids, especially our age, to do that. And so sometimes I think that the school, or other kids that may not be in societies like ours, are pretty quick to label us, and to label societies in a very specific way, regardless of the fact that they themselves are forming just as tightly knitted cliques. Emma: [People] have this perception of societies and this jealousy when they’re in their own clique themselves. The same girls who were yelling at me for being in a society are part of the hockey girl cult or the basketball girl cult. Dylan: In a way it’s frustrating, when I’m asked by someone who I’ve known for a while, if I’m in a society, and I tell them, and there’s that little pause where they’re just sort of considering things: “oh, I would

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never have picked you as being in a society.” Well, what does that mean? How can you say that? You don’t know.

Emma commented on the popular perception that each sorority and fraternity had a characteristic type of member, and that people’s affiliations could be guessed from their associates and activities. She considered such generalizations usually inaccurate. Yet she and three others talked about the attraction of finding people with whom they could fit in. Both fraternity members spoke of personal connections, Jacob adding: There’s also a lot of people from my high school that have a history of being in my fraternity. I knew probably five or six guys that were in it, that had graduated or were still in it. So, it was a very easy decision, I guess.

Later, he commented on the transformative aspect of membership: People think it’s kind of shallow, the whole idea of forming a group just to have a lot of friends, and that you have to pay dues to have friendship. And to a certain degree I can see where that idea would come up. But just from having been in one, it’s afforded me a lot of different opportunities and experiences that I know I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else, and I know they’ve really changed me for the better. So, if they want to say that I’m paying a lot of money to have fifty friends on campus, they can if they want to.

Dylan described how he had been drawn to his fraternity by his older brother’s best friend, who introduced him to a lot of “great guys” who were “so much fun”: So that mystique was there, it was this sort of mystery, this sort of enigmatic idea of a fraternity, what is a fraternity. And I know every guy in my family has been in a fraternity, so it’s that—what is in store, what is this all about? I’ve got to find out. But then the people who were in it really drew me to it. So, I just sort of walked into it.

Two of the sorority members commented on the nature of the sociality. Leah started college in January and the friends she made were already rushing, so I just sort of went along for the ride, I think. And I did really like the older girls I met. I kind of look at it as a social thing … the fraternities

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and sororities throw the parties, they’re fun people to be around, … I really liked the company and just kind of saw it as a social thing. It was a really good way to meet people too, when I first got here … I liked having this collective experience.

Her friend and sorority sister, Emma, added: I immediately found a support system, and … I had all these girls who were immediately interested in me and wanted to help me do this and give me advice on this. Even when we were pledging, all these older sisters knew all these things about me, and I was like, oh my goodness, I felt like I could turn to anyone if I needed anything.

Emma added that in choosing a society, “you don’t just go around and decide [that one] sounds kind of cool; you see what your friends are doing, people you have stuff in common with.” At this time, private societies had just been recast as college organizations, overseen by Student Life and under increasing pressure to present a community face to the College. Ms. Julian, herself a College and sorority alumna, reviewed some details of her oversight: We talk about their responsibilities during pledging, you name it, we just do a lot of housekeeping at the beginning of each semester because that’s when they usually switch over their leadership. I interact with a lot of them when they do social host training … to do parties with alcohol, but that is by no means limited to Greeks. But they often take part in those training activities.

Emma had noted that fewer students were rushing, and that societies might be in the process of dying off. This observation was corroborated by Ms. Julian, who noted that while the number of societies had increased, the size of the membership had decreased; some were very small. Emma had also thought that in its pursuit of higher USN&WR rankings, the school was probably trying to attract students who would not be interested in joining societies, students who ‘they’ thought would work harder, adding “but we work hard.” Ms. Julian had also heard these rumors and was not buying them: They want to believe that we’re out to get rid of them. And I think as a college we’re not. I’ve seen no evidence that we’re trying in any way to eliminate societies. I think we’re trying to make them safer, and for their own benefit, and to make them more informed and accountable for their actions. But I don’t think we’re trying to get rid of

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them. But my God! I think some of it is just urban legend and lore. They just pass it on from year to year, “it was so much better with the houses”– well, how do you know, you never lived in one?

Nevertheless, the bureaucratic processes attendant on “making them safer” sat heavily on the societies. Societies were now asked to submit annual reports, including mission statements, to find faculty advisors, and to undergo yearly review by a committee appointed by the Office of Student Life. This is pretty much opposite the shadow-campus autonomy that is the private society raison d’être, and, as Susan articulates, it is quite a sore point: They’re trying to foist upon us faculty advisors … like you meet with your faculty advisor once a month and you talk about what you’re doing—if you’re doing things for the community, or what kind of parties you’re throwing. At one of the meetings, I went to, I think [the associate dean of students for academics] wants to get together a system where everyone in a society has to give their GPA, and then they’ll tally up all the GPAs and see how that relates to how students drink on weekends, that sort of thing.

All five agreed that this administrative push to reorganize societies as campus organizations doing community and philanthropic service were forms of control: if an organization says in its charter that it will do these things and it does not, then it can be, as Dylan put it, “quite easily scapegoated by the administration, I think. And I know that most brothers in my fraternity would agree with me.” All five said that their societies rendered the campus the important service by providing it with a social life in the form of large parties with alcohol. If societies are heavily regulated, they cannot do it. When they do provide parties, non-member students are often ungrateful and do not understand how expensive and labor intensive it is to provide this service, given the complexity of regulations. Worse still, administrators and faculty members have been known to come to these parties without notifying the host organization, probably looking for evidence of drinking games, which they would like to outlaw. All in all, Dylan said: It just sort of speaks to … a real lack of understanding between the administration and the student body as a whole. The whole idea that the administration is seriously saying “there are drinking games going on, this has got to stop, but we want our students to be happy too”—well, OK, you don’t have a clue.

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Further perspective on private societies and the autonomy of student social life is provided by a 2004 focus group of four senior women (again all white)—Katie, Lauren, Kristin, and Liz. Kristin and Liz were founding members of their sorority. Katie and Lauren never pledged but had Greek society friends, including Lauren’s boyfriend. The discussion opened with student life. All four had substantial student résumés of athletics, media, student government, judicial board, Hillel, volunteer work, and sorority leadership. Their general assessment was that although the College afforded a lot of social contact opportunity, there were also factions and a lot of administrative micro-management and impression management of student life. As Lauren put it, “I think that a lot of times the administration has a preconceived idea of what they want, and as long as they can say that students have input whether they really do or not– that’s a problem.” As another example, all four pointed to attempts on the part of the Student Life administration to correlate grades and partying, and to develop policy accordingly. All four saw the College as a pretty ‘WASPy’ place. By comparison, Katie pointed out, “When I went abroad it was an eye-opening experience … I really did live in a diverse environment,” including the international roster of residents on her apartment floor. This sometimes led to conflict, which was up to the residents to sort out, whereas when conflict arose at the college, “we [the college] want to try to minimize it, and in doing so, squash diversity in some senses. I don’t know.” Liz commented on the minimal contact between whites and non-whites, and noted the lack of campus support for Hillel cultural activities, which she saw as a contribution to college life. Regarding minimal white and non-white contact, Lauren recalled serving two years on a multicultural recruitment committee for Admissions with several black and Latina girls who, she thought, were less than interested in her participation. When discussion turned to Greek life, I asked about society members’ perceptions of faculty attitudes, particularly when antagonistic. Kristin recalled a faculty meeting discussion about a jitney ride from a party in the local village in which the driver was injured in an overcrowded rush onto the bus: That was a horrendous, horrendous faculty meeting to sit through as a Greek society member. Because they all had gone out privately to get the facts about these things, and they threw them all together without anyone really knowing– they were on this crusade and they all just came at it, and it was just one story of one thing that had

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happened. But they were like, this is why fraternities need to be eradicated, this is why things are bad.

Liz added that, more generally, the issue is that those passing judgment on how students should act do not have to answer for their own actions or attitudes: “You can’t be having a one-sided conversation all the time.” Katie, not a sorority member, elaborates: The only involvement I had with them was the parties they threw. And freshman year, that was the social life, … and sophomore year, there was no other social life, until you can start drinking and until you can go to the Pub—that is the only social life there is on campus. My best memories are from those parties. Maybe that’s wrong, maybe it shouldn’t be that way, but the professors aren’t there for those parties. They go home, they go to their lives and the students are left on campus and they need something to do, and gee, maybe we don’t want to spend twenty hours a day doing homework for a class.

All four concurred that students who pledge societies are adults, and if they let pledging, partying, or other social activities get in the way of work, they should take the consequences like adults. But they also all criticized how societies were demonized, as Kristin observes: I’ve heard one in particular professor discuss the role of fraternities and how they degrade women, and they hold women down and how they create a sense of fear when a woman student walks in. This is like a quote from her, when a female student walks into Commons on a Sunday brunch morning, at a high peak time of attendance, and sees twenty large fraternity men sitting around a table, she’s intimidated.

All four found this absurd. Lauren and Katie, the non-Greeks, described watching TV in a dorm lounge comfortably with several fraternity men, and pointed out that such criticisms were leveled by people with no knowledge of local networks or spaces. They also resented faculty criticism of theme parties, which Kristin asserted were meant to be satiric. Regarding the sorority that she and Kristin had helped found, Liz added: Like for instance our sorority does ridiculous amounts of community service, the fact is that we founded ourselves on wanting to be philanthropic. And I just feel like they ignore that and look at the other stuff, and not to toot our own horn but I think that we’re helping to change perceptions of Greek life a smidgen.

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Katie thought that society membership had the advantage of allowing people to find their way into college life through a smaller, more manageable group. Lauren, who had served on the judicial board, thought the social hosting regulations were unfairly set up: “The J-Board has looked at this extensively. There is no way that anybody can throw a party without breaking the social honor code or the social host form. It’s impossible, so it’s designed to be flawed.” She added: I think quite honestly the College is wanting to control everything. I mean they want to control everything that’s on their campus for liability reasons anyways, and that’s something else entirely, I think. But some of it I think is just pure an eye for an eye kind of thing. They do want that control for other reasons than their own liability or saving students’ lives and things like that. So, I think that it’s really tough. [The societies] are supposed to be on their own, but they can’t really get out of the grasp to be on their own.

Discussion then turned to the tension between actual students and how the college projects itself, including the ongoing OIA promotional talk of ever-improving ‘better’ incoming students with higher test scores, which current students resent. Then there is the attitude described by Lauren: “I’ve had a particular faculty member who told me that my grades need to reflect on her for how people look at her. They don’t need to reflect my grade.” She added, “I think to a certain extent the College has that issue, that we want to prove to all the other NESCACs and Harvards and whoever the hell else we’re trying to match up with that we can be as good as you, and things like that.” But as Kristin pointed out, she herself did choose the College because of its high ranking—if she was going to spend that kind of money on tuition, she wanted to get her money’s worth. And in the end, she thought she had. All four agreed they had enjoyed the College, especially Liz who had transferred from a large urban university for her second year.

Private Societies and Social Markedness For students of color, joining a private society can be a challenge. As one student explained in a course paper, students of color may prefer, or may feel expected to prefer, to put the time and effort into a cultural organization (BSO, LSO, ASO) and may feel they cannot belong to both. They may find the expense of a private society prohibitive and may feel they have nothing in common with a mostly white membership. Being in a Greek society may feel like a permanent state of

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double consciousness (Du Bois 1903: 3), of having to be aware how white members see non-white members, with the burden of wondering if and when they should edit how they talk, act, and dress.6 Nevertheless, private society membership and social markedness are not always mutually exclusive, as explained in an interview with Tessa, one of a very few Native American students in the school’s history. Tessa chose the school in part because it was a liberal arts school with a Native American organization, but when she arrived she found that Karen, who was not herself Native American but was the one student who had kept the organization going, was about to graduate. Tessa looked first to BSO and LSO, but found she “just didn’t really fit in with the group dynamics.” Most of the people I know that are involved in cultural organizations aren’t involved in Greek life at all, and vice versa. I don’t really know why that is. It’s kind of– I was looking at a lot of the cultural organizations before I joined a Greek society, and as soon as I did [join a sorority], I felt more comfortable there, so I stopped.

She chose a sorority that had the most people from different countries as well as different states, … where when I went to visit other sororities … it was mostly like New England. And I just wanted to get to know a lot of different people, and also it was the most diverse culturally… And that’s what I was looking for, I wanted to be a part of Greek life, but I didn’t—I wanted diversity too, because that’s my comfort level. And then I just really liked what they stood for.

She became very active, serving as president and as an intersociety council member. Tessa’s sorority, founded in the early 1990s, was meant to be service oriented and to draw from a wide range of demographics, but it was not specifically founded as a multicultural sorority. The first specifically multicultural society was founded in 2000. Rita, one of its founding members, was active in BSO and LSO but saw an important place for a sorority modeled after “bigger national ethnic sororities” that could “bring in all kinds of women.” I asked her to compare her sorority to the cultural organizations, and she responded: I can tell you a big difference obviously which is that a sorority is an exclusive group. But I think that for the goals that we have and the

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ideals that we try to live up to, are basically the same. We try and educate ourselves about our different cultures and in turn try, even if it’s in a small bit, by word of mouth, sharing our experiences with other people. And something different that we all have, we have what we call big brothers, so we share our experiences with these other people that will in turn share with other people. And that’s the way I see it working and how it compares, with the exception that a sorority is exclusive and just for women.

Similar views are expressed by three Latina members of the same sorority—Danielle, Vanessa, and Bianca. All were active in LSO. They saw their sorority as distinct in its promotion of membership among black, Latina, Asian, and white women; Danielle saw this mission as especially suited to a school the size of the College. Their primary focus was on service, but they did throw parties. The three members emphasized their sorority’s support of activities sponsored by college cultural organizations; they also sometimes collaborated with other, larger societies on social events. They saw themselves as a special kind of private society, retaining the sense of participation in the Greek world while rethinking some of its terms, such as the selectivity. Similarly, a member of the short-lived Latino fraternity told me that his fraternity avoided the term “rush” and its affiliation with social pressures, expenditures, and partying, preferring to think in terms of recruitment, and to emphasize friendship, self-development, and shared resources. When I asked interviewees if they thought the College administration recognized such distinctions among societies, all replied no. As Vanessa put it: “They just see societies as a whole. They see one, they see it all. They don’t really distinguish them, from what I’ve seen, they don’t even take the time out to try to see the differences out there. They just kind of see the whole picture.” Vanessa further detailed how the requirement for societies to submit annual reports used formulae that effectively standardized them along a set of measures clearly meant to “separate the good societies from the bad ones” and that allow the “good” ones relative autonomy while keeping the bad ones under supervision—a sharp departure, as Vanessa notes, from an earlier model in which all societies are equally autonomous. So why have a private society given its small size and limited autonomy? For one thing, it provides a defining connection. Danielle and Bianca described a possible scenario during a job interview: Danielle: The person interviewing you might have been in a society, and then just by you mentioning it, they’ll say, oh wow, great, what

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society are you in, mine did this, I remember in college– it really bonds people on different levels because of the way societies are, even if they’re not the same, it doesn’t matter. Bianca: Yeah, I had an interviewer, or a recruiter, who was in a society and he pointed out that. And even if they don’t know much about it, they can understand the nature of being in a society, and obviously they’d know about the initiation process, so he was like, I don’t really know much but I’m sure if you didn’t have your stuff together by freshman year, they whipped you into shape. So, there was an element there that he knew, that I had matured from whatever, there are just elements about being in a society that can serve as conversation pieces.

Danielle added that because society membership provides that connection based on shared experience, it is quite distinct from having been in a regular campus organization. As other society members also told me, Bianca added that Admissions brings students to college, but societies keep them there. Ms. Julian saw the student population sorted out as “Greeks, friends of Greeks, and independents.” And though many faculty members lump all Greeks together, she said: And I think what’s really interesting is that within the Greek community, which represents about a third of our students almost, they can’t agree on anything because they’re representing such different groups. You’ve got sixteen groups that cannot come to a common consensus about anything. It’s like pulling teeth within the intersociety council to get anything done, because they all represent such different groups of students on campus.

An especially interesting point emerges from this discussion: the effort toward an integrated sociality tends to come more from sororities than fraternities. This point is coherent with a larger pattern noted by Chambliss and Takacs (2014: 98): sorority members tend to be more active in, and less dissatisfied about, the whole range of college extracurricular activities.

Sociality and Sports Another area of dense sociality is athletics, which overlaps heavily with private society membership. The football team was of particular interest to me in its range of ethnicity, race, and class. Football requires

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a significant time commitment, with three-hour practices six days a week to prepare for eight games from late August to mid-November. A lot of football team members are also members of the same fraternity, which is also probably the most racially, ethnically, and class varied on campus. Football players generally talk about the team as a site where racial awareness is secondary to being a team. Here, Anthony, who is black, describes his perception of race on the football team: “Yeah, you’re so busy, you can’t focus on race. You’ve got practice and everything and then you go back to your room and do your work. It’s not that big of an issue.” When I asked if race in sports differed from elsewhere in college life he answered: I guess it’s because, in the general population, it’s made more of a big deal to focus but in sports the goal is to win, and you don’t care who helps you win so long as you get the job done. But part of college is to debate and see other points of view, and diversity is pretty important to that, to see different people from different areas and different backgrounds, to see their point of view.

Here, Sam, Ryan, and Jim, all white, all football players, and Sam and Ryan members of the above-mentioned fraternity, talk about their perception of race and class differences: Sam: You don’t look at it like that in terms of– it’s just like a family. There definitely are distinctions and people know there’s distinctions but you’re not there to play upon that, you just– Jim: You’re just there to play football. Sam: You’re just there to play football, yeah. Ryan: I’ve never really considered who has a lot of money and who didn’t. Like I met all my best friends through here; anyway, it gives you something in common with people as soon as you get here, it’s easy to relate to people. Jim: The bonding thing is something you don’t realize til afterwards, if that makes sense. Like you go through four years and you look back and you’re like “wow, we did this, we did this, it’s brought us closer together, look at the things we’ve done, look at what we’ve accomplished.” But when you’re in it, it’s so time consuming and so fast paced that you don’t really– you’re not out there at practice going “we’re really getting tight here.” Ryan: When you’re out there, I just think of everybody as a teammate, you know? I never really consider that stuff until you get off

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the field. It’s like you just forget about any differences you have for three hours, and just practice. So– I mean I don’t really notice the differences until we’re off the field, then like you can tell there’s cliques, and groups that hang out.

I asked Ryan and Sam to describe their fraternity. Ryan replied, Well, it’s not all white, we have Asians and blacks and everyone in there. We all come from different backgrounds too, because there are a lot of really wealthy kids and then there’s a lot of kids who aren’t.

I asked them to compare their sense of connectedness on the team with the kind of connectedness that develops in non-athletic student organizations. Sam pointed out the difference between being in an organization in which “you meet once or twice a week for an hour, whatever, and for football it’s six times a week for three hours, and it’s draining.” I then asked to what extent they thought the diversity of the football team was recognized. Jim answered: If they [the college] are so concerned with image, and football is your most diverse part of your campus, and they don’t support us, why wouldn’t they put more support into us? Not only does it show more support for diversity, but they also stress the student-athlete, because I mean how many– more than half our school plays sports. And instead of just being good academically, why wouldn’t we want to be known for both academics and athletics? So, something that’s their most diverse—they don’t support.

Jim then elaborated on what he saw as a marketing attitude on the part of the school: Like all this stress on all this cultural diversity, you know what I mean? It’s stressed so much, on all the campus tours– I never actually took one, but my red flags would go up if that’s all they kept stressing. Why is it such a big deal? Because you don’t have it, you’re trying to make the school something it’s not, trying to portray it as something it’s not.

All three of them express resentment at what they see as the gap between the school’s efforts to structure, even engineer, their social lives, and the students’ rights to determine their own; in Jim’s words, “It should be about the students. It’s our school. We’re the ones who pay to go here, we’re the ones who chose to go here.”

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All also express anger at the way they are stereotyped as football players. I asked if they meant the “meathead” stereotype? They did. Sam thinks people respond to stereotypes of football players as wild and uncontrolled: Sam: And that’s why they look down on us—which is kind of strange, because we don’t really do things like that. We’re no angels but we’re no worse than anyone else. Jim: I respect athletes a lot because I know what it takes to go to practice all day and then come home and get your work done and get decent grades … I had a T-shirt on that was real short [-sleeved] in class, and the teacher saw both my tattoos—you should have seen the look on her face, she was just appalled. A look of disgust almost. Hey, that’s who I am. That says a lot about who I am. And so does football. Ryan: I just would never comment on something that I don’t know anything about. Nobody knows that football—it’s a thinking game. There’s a lot of thought that goes into every play, and a lot of discipline. There’s more discipline in football than in any other sport I’ve ever played. I think people just assume. When you don’t know anything about a certain subject, you shouldn’t pretend like you do, and I think a lot of people do that.

The perspectives expressed by Jim, Ryan, and Sam are echoed in interviews with the football, basketball, and golf coaches. The key themes in these interviews are the ways in which the realities of class run counter to some faculty attitudes. As Coach Merrill (football) put it: If they fit the bill that the college is looking for, then we will certainly recruit that individual. The makeup of our current team, there are some students of color there, there are some parents that can write the full … check, there’s some that need a host of financial aid, there’s some that need partial, minimal, what have you. So, when you look at diversity from that standpoint, our team certainly tries to encompass—we throw everything out other than academics, and then we proceed accordingly down the road.

Like the football team members, Coach Merrill saw diversity on the football team in terms of class as much as ethnicity and race. He criticized Admissions decisions that he saw focused on “categories and test scores” without taking into account the player who scores lower but may work harder: “You’re looking to fill in blanks rather than put

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together a group that can work together.” The class theme was elaborated by Coach Petroff (basketball): I haven’t seen a big change in the makeup of our teams as far as a diverse population. If anything, I think it’s gone the other way, where some of the teams are made up almost exclusively of full-pay kids that are from upper-middle class or above families. That certainly wasn’t the case back in the early ’80s or back in the ’70s, where most of the teams were made up of kids from working backgrounds.

Coach Petroff was critical of what he saw as many faculty members’ limited interest in student performance in class rather than students as all-round people, and he thought this reinforced the sense projected by the college of students as statistical categories, driven by the USN&WR rankings to “make themselves into something that I really don’t think we are” rather than do the best with who we have. He saw “real diversity” as people learning from each other, not as a statistically driven product to enhance the school’s standing in the rankings: Real diversity and product diversity are two different things. Some of the diversity at the College to me is just a quota system. Minorities may not be real minorities … If you start thinking the color of their skin makes somebody diverse, I think you’re wrong. And those are the figures they keep throwing out.

Coach Petroff emphasized throughout the interview that the college’s emphasis on demographic diversity, while meeting a threshold for SAT scores, ignores class as well as people’s capacity to work together on a team. His take on this closely matched that of Ms. Warwick, who had worked closely with him and other coaches to bring athletes to the College through the OP. Professor O’Hare, the golf coach (and an academic faculty member) similarly compared the team as an environment, where everyone has to cooperate and negotiate differences: “I do think this idea of having to get along with people of very different values is a very important one. And there aren’t a lot of contexts where we can make that happen.” He also points out faculty who only value diversity when working-class masculinity does not enter the picture: I remember we had our first meeting with the football team, and one player comes up to us afterwards and says (this is the first day of school) he says I just met with my advisor for the first time and the

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first thing he said to me when I walked in the office was, I just looked over your transcript and I see you’re a football player, you won’t be with us long … faculty claim to be very sensitive to class distinctions and things like that, and against classism, whatever that– but I’m not sure they always act on it. I’ve seen faculty treat men in Physical Plant in ways that I don’t always think is great.7

Many faculty regard athletics (or at least football) not only as an indicator of limited academic capacity, but as bad student behavior. Professor O’Hare continues: “One faculty member stood up and said ‘I treat everybody the same, my rule is that if you cut a class I don’t care if it’s because you had a game or because you were drinking all night and you were too drunk to get up. It’d be the same for me.’ Great, right?” He also noted the faculty tendency to make pronouncements and pass judgment: I heard a professor say, “Well it’s [the golf team] just a bunch of country club kids.” And to some extent, yes, there are some kids who fit that stereotype, they come from upper-middle class or wealthier areas, and they belong to private clubs. Many of our best players grew up playing on public courses … So, I think there’s more diversity than one thinks on teams where you wouldn’t think there would be diversity. And again, depending as you said on how we define it.

What we hear from these students and coaches is this: Admissions and OIA focus on statistical competition with peer schools, and too many faculty conflate and discredit masculinity and sports, making it clear that institutional ‘diversity’ can be a very selective reading of complicated intersections of markedness.

A Tale of Two Theme Parties Theme parties play a major role in undergraduate life, and figure frequently in private society party planning. They also tell us a lot about unmarked and marked sociality in their illustration of the metaculture of fun. As discussed earlier in this chapter, LaDousa (2011) analyzes signs put up by university students naming their off-campus rental houses, playing on themes (sex, booze, etc.) pointing to the party-ready nature of the residents. Signage also signals the location of upcoming parties, and how to interpret such places, people, and parties in ‘fun’ ways, with the text not to be taken literally. This is important, as a lot of the ‘playful’ elements can get a little (or a lot)

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transgressive—itself an important element of ‘fun.’ This is the general logic of themed parties, which characteristically involve play on elements meant to be both transgressive and not taken literally. The metacultural function is served by the name of the party, particularly as played out on the invitation. Here I look at two theme parties given some months apart by different fraternities: the first themed around ethnicity, the second around gender, and the first generating a more heated reaction than the second. The ethnicity defining the first party, not widely represented in the college population, indexed an inside– outside contrast: those who customarily went to private society parties and those who did not. The gender element defining the second party required participation by young women. So, in one, the marked element defining the theme was interpreted by many students (and faculty) as a signal of who was excluded; in the other, the marked element defining the theme had to include the marked, even if (as many non-partiers thought) problematically. At this point, I remind the reader that we are talking about 17- to 22-year-olds, mostly middle to upper-middle class, mostly white, mostly American, and to a large extent at college with expectations of having a great social experience in a liminal time and place. Most students operate at least sometime in a space of protracted adolescence, insulated from the consequences of problematic actions, especially if their parents are well-off or well connected. But even those not all that welloff can be relatively insulated. One of the effects of indexical density is to generate a sense that if ‘we’ are well intentioned, ways of talking or acting that seem perfectly OK among those ‘like us’ cannot really hurt people less ‘like us.’ Partygoers perform typifications. They inhabit them as faces, figures, and ways of talking, dressing, and acting—clusters of imagery that say more about the social location and experience of the typifiers than the typified. The markedness exists in the eyes of the typifiers, who see it as the only relevant characteristic in their typification. This can lead to some pretty dicey theming, especially when it takes place in a densely figured world whose inhabitants commonly assume that everyone shares the same social reality. Those who see a problem must decide how to object or react, which can be difficult, given that such social situations are often intensely enclosed, with people often acting with iffy judgment, or wanting to get attention, or make a splash. In a themed party, dress, behavior, food, drink, music, and games are organized around a ‘fun’ theme. Theme parties are staples of Greek sociality, and draw a lot of non-Greek partiers. Examples are readily available on websites listing college party ideas, and nearly all provide

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potential for risqué gender performance.8 They often play on exotica of class, race, ethnicity, nationality, and culture. Playing on some form of social markedness means they can all too easily lend themselves to problematic performances of social categories, as interpreted by dyingto-be-edgy 20-year-olds. Gender is always in the mix, because otherwise what would be the point of the parties? Explicit gender themes may be set up as a rhyming opposition of the ‘X bros and Y hoes’ (plural of ‘ho’) variety, or the male half as a social or occupational role and the female half combining a corresponding role with ‘hoes’ such as Golf Pros and Tennis Hoes, or CEOs and Office Hoes. Class may be themed as white trash, redneck or Kentucky parties. Then there is the continuum that runs from ethnic or national culture to flat-out race. Ethnic/national culture themes suggested by college party websites include Mexican, Middle Eastern, Asian, Italian, French, and Hawaiian. There are also parties where markedness is quite clearly racialized, like the now-notorious 2010 Compton Cookout at the University of California San Diego, or variations on plantation-themed parties, or the Miami of Ohio Ghettofest described by LaDousa (2011). Finally, there are themes that do not play on race or class markedness but do allow plenty of scope for gender performance: vicars and tarts, pirates and wenches, Catholic school, robots, Hollywood, James Bond, and, yes, togas. Ethnic/national culture themes may or may not be played out in racially marked ways, but they all have an exotic touristy vibe not to mention scope for exotic female costumes. Whatever its theme, the party creates a pocket of contrast with the school’s institutional context—that is the whole point to ‘fun.’9 Within this pocket of contrast, themes provide opportunities for everyone to dress up and perform as what they are not, in ways that also allow for some edginess, especially some sexual acting out, in interpreting those roles. What gets interesting is how students themselves signal awareness of themes getting problematic. The assorted “bros and hoes” themes have stirred up some internet chat along the lines of “that’s so sexist,” and “oh, get over yourself; if you don’t like it, don’t go.” One sorority life website drew a line between acceptably fun uses of ‘hoes’ (or ‘sluts’) in party names, invitations, and costumes versus the tendency of ‘sketchy’ or ‘creepy’ guys to take it literally and act on it.10 The exotic culture theme parties set off even fewer internet alarms, and neither did the white trash parties. By contrast, there seems to be some online consciousness among college party planners that ghetto as a party theme is problematic, a stance that may have grown stronger in recent years.

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With this discussion in mind, let us compare the two parties. The “Ethnic Night” party was one of the most frequently suggested on party theme websites. The question I raise here is not, was the fraternity or the party theme racist, but what was it about this party that some saw as racist and others saw as just fun? Here is what was publicly visible. The fraternity sent out paper invitations for an Ethnic Night party to the campus at large. The invitation featured an image of an armed guard in front of a border wall facing a Trojan horse piñata, the name of the party, its time and place, the name of the fraternity, and a line saying, ‘proper documentation required’ (to verify that attendees were over 21, and playing on the image). Many students, not only fraternity members, found the invitation clever. Some found it insulting. Some had no reaction. The Trojan horse piñata image had appeared a few years prior on a popular news satire television show in a commentary about a dominant US political stance toward that ethnicity and its affiliated nation. People who regularly watched the show took the image as an index not of the show’s attitude toward the ethnic group but of the show’s attitude toward US policies aimed at the group and nation. When the graphic was repurposed as an invitation, that indexical alignment—that the image was meant as a satirical critique—was submerged, and the line about documentation turned the indexical needle in a different and more ambiguous interpretive direction, raising the possibility of the image mocking the ethnic group and its nation’s situation. The pictorial elements signifying violence (the guard, the gun, the border wall) and stereotypes (the Trojan horse piñata with the suggestion of smuggling people in) particularly seemed to focus the anger of those who saw the party theme as racist. After the invitations appeared in campus mailboxes, a swift response was organized by faculty and student email. Members of a student social justice group, the women’s group, LSO and BSO, and some faculty, held a vigil at the party venue. Some reported heated exchanges with passing party attendees. The following week saw meetings of faculty, administrators, and students, more email exchanges, with many pages of coverage in the campus newspaper for the next few weeks. Much of the discussion was about the invitation itself. Even before the party, email on a faculty listserv focused on the invitation (though one email did point out its original satiric use on the television show), expressing anger at what they saw as insensitivity and ignorance by the fraternity, and calling for condemnation, teach-ins, and action from the dean. Prominently threaded through this discourse was the fraternity as Bad Student writ large. Several students of color told faculty

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mentors they felt targeted by the imagery, which to them magnified an ongoing sense of marginalization by white students, and which was being taken far too lightly by Student Life administrators. At the same time, I heard several students and a few faculty say that they could not see what was so offensive about either the party invitation or the theme, treating them as, at worst, gaffes (Hill 2008), rationalized as a ‘slip’ without racist intent. Some thought the offended students overreacted. A few characterized the angry critical responses to the party, the invitation, and the fraternity as ‘liberal.’ A few characterized the party givers as ‘merely thoughtless’ and the offended students as ‘overreacting.’ The week after the party, the fraternity issued an email apology, stating that it had meant no harm, had not meant to devalue members of the stated ethnic group, and now realized that a lot of people might be “personally” hurt by the image, which it had not thought offensive, and it was sorry people were offended. The fraternity seemed to have taken the criticism seriously, as this was the last Ethnic Night party they held. Six months later, a different fraternity had a “Bros and Hoes” party (themed around a stereotypically male occupation with matching ‘hoes’). Again, invitations were issued; I was unable to find a copy, but judging from internet samples of similarly themed invitations, they probably featured the name of the party, place and date, and some visuals suggesting how one might dress to celebrate the theme. Negative responses included a protest by the Women’s Center, a few articles and letters in the school paper, some faculty emails expressing anger, an apologetic email from the fraternity using the “we’re sorry if anyone was offended” formula, and members of the fraternity attending an open campus meeting (originally set up by a faculty–student social justice organization to discuss problematic language) where they responded to questions about the party and repeated their apology. While all this certainly generated criticism of the fraternity and the theme party, it generated considerably less sense of moral panic than did the Ethnic Night party. The difference appears to be that not all forms of social markedness are marked in the same way. Where it is impossible to imagine an Ethnic Night party in which actual Ethnics play the (racialized) ‘ethnic’ role, the ‘bros and hoes’ theme requires young women to participate by playing out the requisite roles, and to do so in a creative costume designed to look sexy. As it never occurred to me to interview anyone about why they participated, I hesitate to draw any further conclusions, but I am reasonably certain that young women who participate

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generally do enjoy the transgressive costume aspect, and do see themselves as full participants; they may even help with the party planning. So even if being female in this arrangement is marked, it is not the markedness of the Ethnic Night party in which the unmarked/marked divide closely matched the divide between those who felt they had a place at the party and those who did not. There is similarly a difference in the metacultural operation of the invitations. In both instances, they signaled to the students participating that the party was coming and how to have ‘fun’ with it, while signaling the racist or patriarchal nature of fraternity values to those who would likely be angered by the themes. But the Ethnic Night invitation contained specific, point-atable elements that intensified the critical response, whereas the Bros and Hoes invitation more likely did not. Instead of thinking about these parties in terms of student ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’, it makes more sense to see how perceptions of such parties, starting with the invitation, trigger mutually exclusive responses indexing opposing stances, even though (and not surprisingly for a small school) people in opposing stances often know each other. White and non-white students are disconnected in ways that white male and white female students are not; disconnection among white students is more likely to proceed from varying degrees of investments in ‘fun’ forms of sociality. The ‘fun’ stance grows from a secure social milieu in which people can choose who they want to be with, women along with men, even if there are, as I suspect, provisional aspects of that participation. In that milieu, ‘playing’ with notions of race, class, ethnicity, or sex operates in the manner of LaDousa’s house signs: you are inside it and you do not take it seriously. The critical stance grows from an outside perspective.

Alumni of Color: Reflections on Belonging and Its Consequences The relation of marked to unmarked in college social life is not a simple matter of who gets to have fun and who is left out. Rather it is about who sets the terms for what counts as sociality, and how do those terms fit the larger picture of a privileged college experience. Sociality for racially marked students involves several complications. It is generally hard for any group of people, socially marked or unmarked, to imagine or validate what lies outside their experience. But it is harder when social relations are steeped in an ideology of US individualism that denies the validity of historically shaped collective experience,

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such that inequalities of participation due to markedness are recast in terms of individual feelings. It is harder still when the college social life of the unmarked is also something that gets drawn back into college marketing to raise money from nostalgic alumni. Alumni of color are aware of this. The College’s multicultural alumni started their first alumni network in the 1980s, and in the early 2000s they formalized relations with the College’s regular alumni group, becoming, by the mid-2010s, a standing part of the alumni council. In the late 2000s, the College’s first multicultural reunion was held. Two Latina alumnae, who came to participate in a reunion panel discussion, said that when they left, they were not sure they would be coming back, as the school did not seem all that much more engaging than it had been when they were students a decade earlier. The following year, two other Latina alumnae participated in a panel on what they had been doing since graduation. They enjoyed the trip and seeing old friends, but again expressed no particular connection to the school; still, they would like to be appreciated. Their concerns are further spelled out by a black OP alumna who helped plan the panel discussion at the first multicultural reunion: The majority of people of color that graduate from the College don’t feel any special affinity. It was “get through, do what I’ve got to do.” And that’s because we didn’t necessarily feel supported by any more than one or two people or particular offices. And the College has a lot of firsts in this institution that are people of color that they should recognize, that they should boast, just like they boast [famous nineteenth-century alumnus] and the connections there [trustee and legacy family] … Those alumni [of color], in building that connection, they’re saying, “hey, I’m finally glad somebody’s reaching out to me with my understanding.” And we have some people come back and participate in the panel discussion … we’re not afraid to have people on our panel to say … “this is my first time back to this campus in twenty years. I only came here because so-and-so asked me. And I would not have come, I feel no feeling, but what I do care for is what you want to do.” I mean that’s a big step.

She added that if the College wants alumni of color to donate, it should remember that “people give their money to what they want to give it to. They have to feel that you’re recognizing them, that you hold them in just as high regard as you do the [trustee] families.” In 2015, I interviewed Jenna, a black alumna (and a friend of Ely, Sonia, and others we met in the last chapter) who has been chairing

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the alumni relations committee for alumni of color. She reinforced and expanded these points: how might her committee reach out to alumni of color in ways that will make them value giving to the College, given the many incidents they endured and that keep happening, the continuing lack of recognition and support for the day-to-day humiliations and microaggressions, the loss of such dedicated spaces as the Black and Latino house. The issue used to be the sheer disparity in numbers between white students and students of color, but that is no longer the case. The issue is support, “emotional, psychological, and social to address the whole person.” Alumni should be part of the on-campus conversation, and should be there to support “the Collective’s response to such outrageous behavior”: Such violence and intolerance need more vigorous discussion. Responses from more than one administrator need to be consistent. We all need to talk to students who were probably involved. I regularly hear about the people who take the lead in those events [routine acts of aggression], and get away with it because they are anonymous. The Collective feel that their efforts only get taken seriously when they affect the college’s bottom line, when they say things that draw attention away from the college’s ‘perfect’ imagery, whatever makes them look less than appealing to prospective parents, students, donors. This isn’t the case for every administrator. Some put their hearts on their sleeves and get to work. I recognize that there are a few people in the OIA with the right mind frame. But they have to play that game, figure out how much can they do. The tough conversations are not the ones they have on a regular basis. The tough conversations are the ones which occur rarely, so we can’t say there is a pattern. The problem lies in those who continue to say there are no problems on campus. [Our] committee is not always quick to jump to the gun on how to respond when race/class issues arise.

Jenna’s committee tries to figure out how to mentor or advise, but they operate outside the college and the problems lie within. Perhaps, she suggests, student life issues are not solely the business of Student Life administration. Perhaps the offices of the college that focus primarily outward, on attracting the kind of students with whom the college has always been comfortable, should take some responsibility: What if you don’t fit that image, and something bad happens to you and you need support, who do you turn to? So, it would be nice if OIA could be a resource to provide guidance. Is Admissions the

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answer to solving the problem? Could we admit more tolerant students? I know the question is a weird one … Is student life important as much as everything else in the college? What other items impact image, community, the sense of support? What about all the other stuff, faculty awards and student accomplishments in the news? Does the fact that there are so many positives outweigh the other incidents? I often hear that there’s not enough being done. ‘They’ are not about to focus on students feeling isolated and dropping out. ‘They’ don’t pay attention to current student drama until it gets really bad … People who make decisions are not the ones who deal with student issues. People who deal with students day-to-day are not empowered to have any influence on decision makers, at least not visibly.

Jenna compares the College in the mid-2010s with the College in the mid-1990s: There is not a lot of stuff over time that is different. I feel like I keep trying to fit square pegs into round holes … Often, it’s about remembering that we’re all Collegians and what will make each person comfortable is not an easy topic … every time I come back, some young person tells me about an incident that makes them feel unsafe, which is not true of other places like my church. It’s sad. And I don’t know why. We’re assuming that if people come to college they’re enlightened—and really, they aren’t. That’s a faulty and dangerous assumption. We want to pretend that 18- to 20-year-olds are full-fledged adults, and they aren’t. How do you take young impressionable brains and give them enough tools to treat each other properly, learn to play nice in the sandbox? … There should be more focus on preventing trouble before it happens. We can’t assume that someone who’s never known a person of color or a poor person won’t say something stupid to them … The isolation of students of color from white kids is not the answer. The Administration says “we care about diversity,” but I wonder why they say that and then ignore students when they say there is a problem.

Jenna concludes by comparing the model of leadership that the College likes to exhibit—a sort of performance of success (or as she put it, “I don’t see leadership in training actually leading to leaders”)—with what leadership ought to be: Leadership is not about being in charge, it’s about service, how to serve the community you’re in, the day-to-day events, speaking up on behalf of other people … and bring[ing] others along.

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Final Thoughts In his ethnography of student volunteer activities on a residential campus, LaDousa (2018: 113) described the notion of a “bubble,” as college publications and students refer to their college in contrast to off-campus service projects: “In brief, the idea assumed in the image of campus as a bubble is that the real world exists elsewhere, off campus, and that students must leave campus to engage with it. The term can be used in a way that casts endeavors, especially academic ones, as excluding students from the real world.” The bubble-like quality of the campus stems from its residential nature, reinforced by its size and location; an urban campus would seem much less bubble-like. Although the bubble quality is used in reference to academic rather than social life, I think it grows out of the figured world formation described in this chapter, a formation encouraged and projected by the OIA and Admissions. There might be a certain virtue in students pursuing good works outside the bubble, but the bubble remains for them to return to, and there is no indication that it should be otherwise. That bubble quality also suggests how students might selectively respond to messages from late 2010s gender and racial justice movements such as “Me Too” and Black Lives Matter. I did not have explicit conversations with students about this, so I cannot say if or how being in a bubble attenuates such messages. I expect that some messaging comes through, and I suspect that messages about race/ethnic stereotypes are more likely to do so than messages about risky gender imagery. Students might more readily grasp what otherness means to marked people within their bubble and adjust their behavior along the lines of “maybe I should think about these stereotypes before playing with them.” But playful gender performance might operate on different principles to the extent that performers may see the bubble as a safe-enough space for themselves, where they are with friends and in control. That message does seem to inform theme-party websites, still online in 2020, offering suggestions for playing safely with ‘slut’ imagery. The figured world of unmarked sociality is sustained as it is through an intersection of elements. However much the school aims to have some degree of diversity, the demographic that sustains it is white, connected, and reasonably well-off. By and large, campus life—private societies, parties, and all—is set up in ways that keep that demographic comfortable. The social ramifications, how people experience that comfort, can be seen in how they present themselves, in Goffman’s

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(1959) quasi-dramaturgical sense, without having to imagine any of it from a perspective that is not their own. Students who are socially, especially racially, marked must do that imagining all the time with a Du Boisian double consciousness, that continual awareness of seeing oneself as one appears to those more advantaged, so that one is always in the position of calibrating one’s actions in their terms. Nor are such effects limited to college life: the same principles operate in the ‘real’ world, where those who broker power and resources are those who dictate how everyone is supposed to see the world.

Notes   1. Holland et al. note the affinity of figured worlds with such sociological constructs as Anderson’s (1983) imagined community or Bourdieu’s (1991) discursive field. I would add to those Berger and Luckmann’s idea of secondary socialization: “the internalization of institutional or institution-based ‘subworlds’” (1966: 138) subsequent to the primary socialization of childhood; I also note the chronotopic organization of such worlds.   2. In their Journal of Linguistic Anthropology special issue introductory essay on discourse and racialization, Dick and Wirtz show distinctions in shared webs of time–space relations structuring differences in racialized experience. Blanton (2011), Dick (2011), and Wortham et al. (2011) provide ethnographic illustration of chronotopic dimensions of US racialization especially relevant to this discussion.   3. Again, see Berger and Luckmann (1966) on primary and secondary socialization, drawing on Marx and Weber, as well as Bourdieu on habitus and discursive field.   4. Bonilla-Silva critiques the ideology of ‘color-blindness’ as a justification for an existing order of privilege; Quillian (2006: 314ff) offers an extended literature review. Bush’s student interviews probe assumptions made by white students about those of color, including class, nation, education, and social order. Chase’s study of student talk about social difference similarly contrasts perspectives of white students and students of color, with white students favoring a discourse of “abstract inclusion,” i.e., “We’re all the same; all those differences are just individual varieties”—the same message carried by college website characterizations of diversity and community.   5. Thanks to Valerie Perez, Sidney Martinez, and Sam Richardson whose course papers supplied insights for this and the following sections.  6. I thank Marie Fouché for these insights, from her 2018 paper on the realities of diversity in Greek life for my course on the semiotics of liberal arts education. Her paper, and student discussions, suggest that little has changed in perceptions and attitudes about private societies since my earlier interviews.  7. Such faculty attitudes, male and female, about working-class male staff and students were not unusual.

224  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity  8. Nor is the risqué themed party exclusive to Greek sociality or liberal arts colleges: the University of Chicago used to have the Lascivious Costume Ball, and Brown University used to have SexPowerGod.  9. Elements of this can also turn up in ‘official’ programming, as in an advertisement for a university summer Spanish program in Mexico featuring a color photo of a (largely, not entirely, white) student group who looked very much like they were at a Mexican themed party. 10., last accessed 28 November 2020. Site no longer available. There are also websites on why college women should take a pass on this sort of play.


Where Is the Faculty in All This? rrr

Given how many faculty members teach and publish about some aspect of social markedness, faculty might be expected to provide useful input for the College’s diversity practices and policies, or even just have something useful to say about what being ‘diverse’ means. But the institutional spaces inhabited by faculty, though privileged in many ways, also fragment and filter what they do and say about ‘diversity’ beyond their own classrooms and research. This especially frustrates faculty of color. Faculty teaching and research covers race, nation, ethnicity, language, class, gender, sexuality, age, and ability. Taken together, their discipline-based understandings of these subjects are theoretically extensive and productive, and many college faculty are well published in these areas. But from an institutional perspective, what they produce is diffuse compared to the straightforward institutional diversity goal: get the numbers up and keep them up. That is the end to which institutional initiatives are oriented, and faculty research may not seem relevant to that end in any obvious way. Then there is the question of the conditions within which faculty of color work and students of color live and attend class—questions that are of concern to the offices of the dean of faculty and of students. It seems very likely that somewhere in the college there are faculty whose research or classes shed light on these conditions. Yet they rarely get called on to do so. In this chapter, I ask what it is about the institutional position of faculty that so restricts their efficacy? How does the college go about hiring ‘diverse’ faculty? How do faculty of color and white faculty reflect on teaching about markedness? What do faculty think diversity is? And how have faculty tried to bring diversity considerations into the college’s academic goals?1

Faculty Knowledge and Administrative Expertise Faculty knowledge, whatever the subject matter, is framed by the discipline in which one operates, and, as we saw in Chapter 1, faculty

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operate as knowledge specialists, not as problem-solvers. Academic disciplines generally recreate at the local department level the same patterns of knowledge found at larger scales in national and international disciplinary organizations (e.g., the Modern Language Association, and International Sociological Association) manifested in conferences, journals, and so on. The various subject matters concerned with markedness (race, ethnicity, class, nation, language, religion, culture, gender, sexuality) are organized around the conceptual bases of distinct disciplines. One can look at race, for example, in terms of literature and art or history or political structure or social formation or biological population or language or philosophy, and so on. Researchers can, to an extent, take in perspectives from outside their own disciplines but there are always constraints on how far one can go, especially if one wants to publish in the journals of one’s chosen field. At the same time, as Abbott (2001) argues, disciplines are in a state of continual development, building from their own histories and neighboring disciplines into new perspectives and subfields. So disciplinary perspectives on any diversity-related subject can get complicated and specialized. The work of administrators is not the work of teachers or researchers. As discussed previously, it is more like that of physicians, attorneys, or accountants: professional expertise directed at solutions to problems (Abbott 1988: 35) as academic knowledge is not. The problems to be solved are framed by the organization that needs them solved, and this informs the problem-solving procedures it pursues, including the consulting experts it hires. We see this in administrators treating diversity in terms of ‘enough’—a measurable amount that compares well with peer institutions. If there is not enough diversity, that problem is solved by getting more, which indicates ‘progress’ and shows good institutional intentions. The difference between administrative expertise and academic knowledge might be clearer if one compares administrative offices and academic departments. Administrative offices (Dean’s Offices, Student and Residential Life, OIA, Admissions, the Business Office, Physical Plant) are set up by task structures in which people report upward and delegate downward. Academic departments may seem to be part of a comparable structure—faculty report to chairs, chairs to deans, and deans to higher deans or to a president or chancellor—but the similarity is deceptive. Academic and administrative hierarchies differ because academics is anchored outside as much as within the institution. One can trace this through the tenure process, for faculty fortunate

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enough to be in tenure-track as opposed to term positions, as access to a tenure-track career grows steadily more limited, especially for faculty of color and for women. While departments assess the teaching and scholarly work of tenure-track faculty, that scholarly work is also subject to outside assessment from the beginnings of their careers because their scholarship must be published, and publication means peer review of their submissions by senior colleagues in their disciplines at other colleges and universities. When they do come up for tenure, their published work is sent out for assessment to disciplinary colleagues at other schools. Those outside assessments, along with teaching and service, are then assessed by senior department colleagues, the institutional tenure and promotion committee, the dean of faculty and perhaps a provost, and the president and trustees. This looks like a long upward climb within the institution, but one gets nowhere on that ladder without outside support. And once one has tenure, one has much more job security than do even senior administrators. One also has some schedule flexibility and considerable control over one’s own research, so long as one can get it funded and published. And while faculty must carry a certain course load with a minimum number of students meeting a specific amount of time per week and weeks per term, they have, within reasonable limits, a great deal of control over course content, especially at advanced levels. Basically, once faculty are tenured, they can operate with considerable autonomy within the school, while maintaining ties to their discipline outside the school. A certain amount of mechanical solidarity sneaks into faculty relations. I say this tongue in cheek, but academic departments are made up of people engaged in the same discipline who are also allied with others outside the school doing comparable disciplinary work. Research is often seen as the opposite of teaching. But if no one does research, there is nothing to teach. Outside disciplinary ties are criticized as undercutting institutional loyalty, but without outside ties one has no disciplinary reputation. What such criticisms point to is the fact that an active research agenda embedded in disciplinary ties outside the school has no clear place in a strictly institutional flow chart. Such ties represent knowledge production based on graduate training, research, publishing, conference participation, professional travel, and so on. Although institutions routinely provide research funding for faculty on a competitive basis, institutions themselves do not tell faculty what research they should do, and departments may not exercise much authority over it either. The flip side is that many faculty are not all that invested in solving institutional problems.

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All this disciplinary independence and discipline-specific knowledge production also results in wide differences in ways of talking or even thinking about markedness or diversity across academic fields. Each discipline has its own register (or registers), so that knowledge production which makes sense within a discipline can grow opaque across discipline boundaries, even for very close disciplines like anthropology and sociology. And in each discipline, practitioners connect diversity, if they use the term at all, with a wide range of discipline-specific terms. For example, in the life sciences, diversity is a quality of biological populations. In linguistics, it is a characteristic of language varieties and usage patterns. In quantitative social science research focused on macro-level demographics, it is used in relation to race/ethnic-identified populations. In fields concerned with historical, sociocultural, humanistic, and interpretive issues, diversity is used in relation to social and historical formations, to identity, performance, relationships, and other dimensions of human experience. To see what I mean (and borrowing a bit from Guillory 1993), contrast the meanings of diversity in literature and in anthropology. In both fields, diversity is associated with culture, which is deceptive because culture means something different in each field. In literature, culture is associated with the lives and perspectives of literary creations, and cultural diversity is a way to talk about their varieties of experience. We see this in works by non-canonical authors writing about marked social groups, often their own, those texts serving as repositories of non-mainstream cultural values, which can be pedagogically inspiring. Gloria Anzaldúa’s (1987) codeswitched literary production Borderlands evokes complexly classed, raced, and gendered voices, providing a wonderful device for teaching about growing up bilingual, impoverished, and racially excluded. It illustrates a perspective that is important for students to grasp. But illustrating a culturally specific perspective does not mean that the text delivers a chunk of culture, as culture is anthropologically understood. Culture in anthropology is processual and emergent—a continual interpretive process embedded in social and historical formations. The idea of cultural diversity, as developed by Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict (and as Benedict classically laid out in her 1934 Patterns of Culture), is the idea that people live their lives in specific configurations of cultural elements, the meaning of any particular element depending on its relation to the whole, so that no two configurations are exactly alike. An important trade-off of the relative autonomy of faculty within departments is that there is little direct connection between one’s status

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within one’s discipline and one’s authority in one’s home institution. When faculty take positions of institutional authority as deans or associate deans, those do carry more authority than faculty acting within departments, even as chair, though for some it may also mean moving away from active research. These differences in bases of authority play out as different forms of cultural capital. People can develop powerful reputations in their disciplines while carrying little institutional influence, or vice versa. None of this facilitates the development of unified messages across disciplines. (When faculty do unify across disciplines, they tend to do so around shared issues such as labor conditions.) Faculty who become administrators usually become associate deans, deans of faculty, and sometimes presidents, though deans of faculty and presidents are likely to be hired from outside. Many who become associate deans early enough in their careers seek deanships elsewhere. Most faculty who enter these administrative pathways also commit themselves to an institutional perspective and its problem-solving registers, including how to think about diversity. This semiotic split between administrative and faculty perspectives echoes throughout the institution: in hiring for diversity, in establishing a position for a chief diversity officer, in the use of hiring consultants, and in the ways that faculty understand, talk about, and teach about diversity.

Hiring for Diversity and Establishing a Position for a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) For at least twenty years, whoever was the associate dean of faculty served as affirmative action officer for faculty hiring. As explained by a former associate dean of faculty, this meant making sure “that the pool was adequately representative for women, for faculty of color, for the obvious kinds of diversity that we could recruit for,” which could be done by reviewing the affirmative action forms returned by applicants. What could not be selected for so easily were “other kinds of diversity that we’d like to have here like class and sexuality that are hidden and very much harder to recruit for.” Most of the oversight work involved monitoring search committee work without intruding on department autonomy. I asked a couple of department chairs involved in searches in the early 2000s to comment on the process. Professor Watson, a scientist, commented that it left unclear whether hiring for a particular affirmative action category meant that the candidate was expected to specialize in research on that category or to represent that category

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on campus. By way of illustration, he described a colleague and close friend, not white, who was expected to show up at every event on campus highlighting that identity, which Watson thought his friend probably experienced as “a lot of thankless shitwork … It’s performance, to make the college look more diverse than it really is.” Professor Phelps, a social scientist, pointed out that “the official language is only the barest hint of what’s really going on.” The search process, he said, involved a great deal of talk with the dean, associate dean, and other department chairs as to “what does this mean, and what do you do if this happens … there’s a fair amount of guessing about what the administration really wants, figuring out what we really want, what kinds of things matter, how much to put things a different way.” Does racial diversity mean having a US citizen who checks a non-white box? Or a foreign national with a complex background? Is the administration looking for “visible people of color, really … and everything else becomes secondary?” But then he hears from the dean that “it’s intellectual diversity really, we’re thinking not in terms of redressing past wrongs but in terms of enhancing the educational atmosphere.” As to what drives the hiring initiative: “Well, I’d say what’s really directing the process now is when the [new] president was hired, the trustees said the top priority is you’ve got to have results on diversity, so the president turns to the dean and says we’ve got to get results, and the dean turns to the associate dean and says go get results.” But the reality is, when a small school must compete with other small schools in a small pool to find a great teacher who does high-end publishing while representing a specific racial identity, there will be trade-offs: “It’s a matter of having too many constraints on a single position, and expecting faculty (of color) to do it all in terms of everything—including represent a group.” Bundling this oversight work into the other duties of the associate dean did not seem the optimal way to diversify the faculty. In the late 1990s, an associate dean of faculty, working with faculty and administrators who had been attending conferences on race in higher education, put together a report to convince the president to establish a diversity task force that would make a case for a senior diversity coordinator. A group of ten, including faculty, administrators, staff, and students, met regularly and prepared a document recommending a senior staff (vice president) level appointment of someone to coordinate college diversity policies and initiatives, including hiring and retaining faculty of color, instead of having all these jobs done, as overloads, by separate campus offices, too often with little or no

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coordination. The importance of the position being senior staff was that the person in it would be equal to and in conversation with other vice-president-level staff, including the deans of faculty and students, and the directors of Admissions, the OIA, and Library and Information Technology Systems, instead of reporting to senior staff or reporting only to the president. Such a structure would emphasize the integral nature of diversity-related concerns to the campus operations represented by the rest of the senior staff. As the associate dean said in the interview, it was difficult to even get this into the then-current strategic plan, although there was a diversity strategic plan a few years later. An even greater problem was getting people primarily concerned with marketing to take internal issues seriously. In fact, as we have seen, it took another ten years for the first chief diversity officer (CDO) to be appointed for a three-year term. For some years after that appointment ended, the job was made non-senior staff and bundled with other duties. The next CDO appointment at senior staff level was the dean of students in the late 2010s. Structurally, this is what Professor Drake, the first CDO, had recommended, attaching the job to a position overseeing an integral part of the college. This pattern is one of several models used by the College’s comparison schools, which include a stand-alone CDO position at a senior staff level, CDO duties combined with another senior staff position, and a CDO non-senior staff position: some as faculty appointments, some not.

Bringing in the Experts On a couple of occasions, the Office of the Dean of Faculty brought in diversity hiring experts, outside consultants recommended by their services to peer schools.2 In this section, to further illustrate the gap between faculty knowledge and administrative expertise, I describe two workshops on diversity hiring that I attended as department chair, the first in the mid-2000s and the second in the mid-2010s. In both workshops, consultants used diversity in reference to individuals countable as black, Asian, or Hispanic, and as female. Low faculty diversity numbers were attributed to existing faculty not hiring people different from themselves, a form of bias explained in terms of individual cognitive processes, which could be fixed by making faculty members aware of their biases.3 The first workshop, held in the mid-2000s, was a one-day six-hour session led by two consultants, one male and one female, one African American and one white. One was an organizational specialist who did

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leadership and team coaching, and was an expert in (as their website put it) “integrating diversity goals into corporate business strategy.” The other held an MA in communications, a PhD in organizational behavior, and taught management courses with consulting expertise in “managing ‘turn-around’ situations.” Their methods used Loden’s (1996) ‘dimensions of diversity’ model (discussed in Introduction) in which each person’s identity has six primary dimensions (age, race, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities/qualities, and sexual/affectational orientation) and eight secondary dimensions (work background, income, marital status, military experience, religious beliefs, geographic location, parental status, education). According to the consultants, this model would transition the college to a multicultural organization institutionally, culturally, and personally, with faculty forming relationships across the primary dimensions of diversity. Such transition could be impeded by insufficient awareness on the part of dominant group members of the experiences of women and persons of color, typified as ‘cluelessness’ in the workshop materials. I missed the opening session of the workshop as I had a class. When I arrived, the session had been organized into tables, each with a representative. The consultants were talking about cluelessness as being a lack of intent and lack of awareness, explained as mental models, long-term collectively held societal images, operating ‘just below consciousness’ but affecting conscious behavior. Using handouts, they reviewed the social group membership profiles affiliated with each of Loden’s six primary dimensions, and they asked us to fill out profiles describing ourselves. They then explained to us that there were agent groups (with access to social power) and target groups (without such access), and asked us to note which ones we fitted into. Each table was asked to discuss for ten minutes how we had filled out the forms, and to have our table representative report the results to the workshop. Our ability to “talk about the issues” was described to us as “one of the biggest skills in this diversity piece.” The discussion next focused on workplace culture and interpersonal styles and skills, with consultants providing discussion questions such as “what makes people successful at this school,” “what capacities and skills make someone a good fit coming in,” and “what is the culture of the college.” The workshop concluded with a review of ‘best practices’ for diversity hiring, including how to write the advertisement and organize the search. The second workshop, in the mid-2010s, consisted of three sessions, each scheduled for a different point in the search process. Each session had two consultants, both women, one a psychologist and one

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an education specialist, both PhDs, one African American, one white, both of whom combined college teaching with consulting work on diversity and inclusion initiatives. The first session ran for six hours and covered the initiation of the search process. The second ran for three hours and covered the review of applications. The third, also three hours, addressed the campus interviews with the short-listed candidates. In the first session (initiating the search process), the consultants established their credentials, laying out their institutional successes in terms of numbers, such as raising yearly hires for three years running to 50 percent or more faculty of color. They then talked about why diversity should matter: faculty of color enrich their departments and the institution, and provide role models for students of color. They stressed the importance of using these talking points with resistant department colleagues. They reviewed institutions that had been leaders in inclusivity initiatives, discussed the problem of the “pipeline” for faculty of color, reviewed “myths and realities” of diversity hiring, and “emerging best practices,” including the use of diversity advocates and ambassadors. They then laid out the techniques, tools, and strategies that they would provide to achieve desired results, chief among them the Implicit Association Test to recognize implicit bias in the search process. They asked us to read Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People and to take the Implicit Association Test online. Finally, they laid out the task structures for how each department would run its searches. The second session (on reviewing applicants) reviewed research on unconscious bias and its influence on the search process. The consultants showed videos, set up table discussions, reviewed techniques for minimizing bias, and reviewed best practices for screening applicants and evaluating candidates. We received sample evaluation forms to study and adapt to our own department searches, as well as a guide to what inquiries were legal or illegal to make about candidates. The third session (on preparing for final interviews and candidate selection) reviewed how to structure contact with candidates, set up the itinerary, identify ‘diverse’ and ‘majority’ faculty with scholarly interests similar to those of the candidate, provide candidates with relevant information about the department and the college, determine evaluation criteria, provide evaluation forms, conduct the interviews, assess diversity qualifications, and make the final evaluation. Both workshops treated diversity as countable properties of individuals using somewhat different models. The first workshop sought to shift our perception of workplace relations using Loden’s diversity

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wheel. The second used “implicit bias” to explain resistance to diverse hiring, a more straightforwardly psychological model. Both workshops used the same participant structure: attendees were organized by table, with each table periodically assigned a topic for a ten-minute discussion, which a table representative would summarize for the general assembly. The concepts informing both workshops were presented by experts drawing authority from their successful record of providing the same service for comparable institutional clients. The consultants for both workshops were hired by the Office of the Dean of Faculty. While they all held academic qualifications and three of them held faculty positions, they acted not as faculty but as professionals. To recap Abbott (1988: 35–67), professional expertise is based on abstractions from particular people in particular contexts that can be seen as a case or type and disassembled in ways that allow its elements to be fixed. Professionals themselves may operate competitively on the open market through referral networks, advertising themselves and maintaining an active presence through consulting, workshops, and so forth. When the people running these workshops transitioned from faculty to expert consultant, as three of the four of them had done, they shifted from knowledge production to problem-solving. Faculty research on social formation, social justice, complex identities, intersectionality, and so on does not address the problem of increasing numbers, especially as faculty are as likely to complicate or deconstruct diversity categories as to count them. Even though both workshops made passing reference to “other kinds of diversity”—as in “we all bring diversity in different ways”—and references to “intellectual diversity” and “sexual orientation,” it was clear that the “critical mass” could only be reached by hiring more non-white people. It also made market sense to hire consultants with a proven success record, not only because if that solution works for one’s peers it should work for oneself, but also because being co-consumers of the same valued professional services as one’s peers points to one’s own position in that selective peer group. And as hiring is done by departments, it makes structural sense for departments (i.e., faculty) to be the recipients of instruction from these expert professionals on how to do their jobs better. In her discussion of expert discourse, Carr (2010a) notes that although spoken of as an object possessed, expertise operates as discursive practice, “inherently interactional because it involves the participation of objects, producers, and consumers of knowledge” (ibid.: 18). One learns to act as an expert while being socialized into a

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hierarchy of relations and values and, at the same time, into a register. Mastery of that register also makes it possible for experts to participate in the establishment of an interpretive frame through which objects of expertise are constructed, gaining value through the performance of expertise. Expert discourses may appear referential, but they shape experts’ professional presentation to their clients and to each other: who one talks to can have a greater social effect than what one talks about. Thus, Carr argues, expertise operates as second order indexicality in Silverstein’s (2003a) sense: the discursive elements signaling expertise guide participants toward an interpretive frame that not only makes sense, and matters, to them, but that brings into being associated ways of imagining themselves and their social place, confirming who they are and what their authority is. That frame organizes what subsequently count as relevant facts and values, and how those should be constructed and assessed, providing the basis for further enregisterment. This collaboratively sustained framework is fundamentally ideological, constructing not only what is but what should be. As Agha (2007a: 145–49) points out, registers are also cultural models of action linking discursive production to images of person, interpersonal relations, and types of conduct, linking them as well to the formation of social personas and identities. Experts perform their expertise in the registers of their literature, workshops, and websites. Despite their continual performance of their perspective as universal, it is in fact quite specific. The very process of telling faculty how to follow their task structure has the potential to bring the experts’ referential perspective into being (depending on the uptake, as the nature and degree of faculty response can vary). But what matters even more to the consultants is the uptake from the administrators who hired them, because consultants list satisfied clients on their websites. So, the question is addressivity: who are the consultants talking to and how do we know? Bakhtin (1986: 95) explains this as the discursive elements that point to the addressees, or classes of addressees, to whom the message is principally oriented. As LaDousa (2014) found in his study of a state-sponsored digital literacy tutorial, there can be two addresses, one overt and one covert. Such is the case for these workshops: the primary addressees are administrators, and the secondary addressees are faculty.4 The consultants are sending their (administrative) clients the message that they can keep faculty on task in the workshops through their design of activities and terms of participation. They are sending the faculty instructions on task segmentation and completion, and they orient these instructions not to

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practitioners of specific disciplines but to generic faculty addressees. Elements indexing these distinct classes of addressees are explicit in an article, excerpted below, from Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, which consultants for the second workshop included in the faculty instruction packet. The article was co-authored by an organizational behavior specialist and a psychologist, both in the same general area of expertise as both sets of workshop consultants. Here is the relevant excerpt: Members of the typical faculty search committee are chosen for their subject-matter expertise area of the hire. They often lack expertise in basic recruiting and hiring practices [italics in original] and may even have erroneous beliefs about EEO laws, affirmative action, and relevant case law. It is not uncommon to hear members of search committees make comments such as “we have to be color-blind while evaluating candidates.” This unwillingness to acknowledge race, ethnicity, or gender as legitimate and legally defensible considerations in hiring demonstrates a misperception held by some faculty that contributes to tension and potential conflict among search committee members, and prevents an open discussion of how the committee should consider candidate diversity. Moreover, recent research suggests that the typical search committee is alarmingly bias-prone … This is because both men and women hold unconscious biases and commit cognitive errors that influence how they judge candidates … Because they are subtle, unintentional, and automatic, these errors are difficult to detect and therefore difficult to control. And because they are pervasive, their presence can have a significant impact on faculty diversity. (Bilimoria and Buch 2010: 29)

The article goes on to recommend: “Institutions committed to diversity must adopt a new approach to faculty recruitment and hiring” (ibid.: 30). Any faculty dean reading this article will recognize the kind of faculty member typifying the problem that the workshop is designed to solve, the faculty member who does not see why having an inclusive faculty matters, and who, in searches, must be worked with or worked around. I am not arguing that such faculty do not exist. I am arguing that the task structure offered by consultants as a solution tells administrators that yes, the real problem is faculty who need to be disciplined, while not pointing to the possibility that there may be institutional obstacles to building diversity numbers that cannot

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be solved by disciplining faculty. The message to faculty is in effect, since faculty do this hiring, and since ‘we as experts’ have pinpointed faculty hiring practices as the problem (as the above excerpt makes clear), here is what faculty should do to solve the school’s numbers problem. At no point are faculty seriously engaged in a discussion of what the problem is and what they think might work. The few questions that faculty asked about these procedures were largely answered by assurances that the procedures recommended have been “shown to work” and that the Implicit Association Test (IAT) has “been shown to be validated.” The IAT5 provided the consultants with scientific evidence and a mental model for bias, providing the rationale for ‘what works’ in the diversity hiring practices prescribed to faculty (Hall 2005).6 Faculty were assigned the book Blindspot (Banaji and Greenwald 2013) and asked to take the IAT online. The IAT measures the strength of association between a type of person and a social value. To take it, one presses one of two computer keys to indicate an association of qualities and images with ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and with ‘black’ or ‘white’ (or other dualisms, as the IAT has several different versions). One should press the keys representing one’s choice as rapidly as possible, as the program measures reaction times, cumulatively presented to test-takers as a quantified predictor of their implicit bias, and thus a predictor of their actions in the world. The IAT was therefore considered an appropriately objective instrument to address (to quote the above article) the “alarmingly bias-prone” nature of the “typical search committee.” It was one of several “tools, techniques, and strategies” (as the instructions put it) that workshop attendees were asked to share with department colleagues that would illustrate hidden biases, so that faculty might alter reactions to candidates accordingly. In register terms, the consultants presented and discussed bias in terms that indexed expertise based on objective science: bias as psychological and universal, independent of history or social formation. Their expertise rested on the claim that because our minds make the kinds of associations illustrated by the IAT, everyone has biases, even ‘good’ people, and that once people know their biases, they will see the importance of using the recommended procedures to persuade those with even more egregious biases of the importance of raising diversity numbers. It also relieves the institution itself of responsibility for examining what might make working life there difficult for the very faculty they were seeking to hire, as having enough diverse faculty should fix that problem. I will return to this point below.

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In key ways, these sessions resemble those conducted by ‘soft skills’ consultants that companies hire to train employees in teamwork, leadership, and communication skills (Urciuoli 2008: 222–23), making use of the same participant structure, of slideshow presentations interspersed with small group discussions guided by prompts and task structures. This is not surprising, as the two kinds of consultancies are closely related. Soft skills consultants have credentials in communication, organizational behavior, or psychology, much like those of the diversity consultants discussed here. Both kinds of workshops are based on teaching people to use techniques based on segments of social behavior for the benefit of their organization; in doing so, and in their accompanying rhetoric, both take a neoliberal perspective. Both take as their primary addressees the people who contracted their services, and as their secondary addressees those whom they train. Both develop their expertise through comparable channels of relations among fellow professionals and client networks. Even their websites are comparably organized, as readers can quickly ascertain through an internet search for programs in diversity training and soft skills training. They differ in that diversity consultants for higher education tend to be more academic in presentation, listing publications in their professional journals (such as Change), while soft skills consultants list resources and white papers. But their presentations of self are very parallel, and their registers overlap significantly. In the mid-2000s workshop, the consultants and training materials used diverse, multicultural, of color, and minority interchangeably (e.g., diverse faculty, diverse hiring, multicultural faculty, colleagues of color, minority faculty). These co-occurred with organizational psychology terms like mental models, social identities, group membership, agent groups, and target groups, and with neoliberal terms like workplace culture and interpersonal skills. All these were used in the directions for the ten-minute table discussion (e.g., “This is a list of social identities,” or “Fill out your group membership profile”). After the report on those discussions, the prompts for the general discussion targeted such classic neoliberal considerations as the “capacities and skills” making a new hire “a good fit.” A prompt for a discussion of “the culture of the college” (like the Posse retreat prompt to discuss the college identity in Chapter 3) asked faculty to present a side of the college that is “both appealing and true.” The operating assumption was that, like corporate hires generally, diverse hires will demonstrate their worth as workers through their capacity to ‘fit’ the organizational ‘culture.’

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A comparable corporate orientation is found in the use of diversity with growth and excellence in the mid-2010s workshop. The discussion and workshop materials referred to “positive growth in faculty diversification” despite a “shortfall of domestic faculty” of color (“domestic” meaning US faculty as opposed to foreign), while faculty were asked to “redefine excellence.” The co-occurring use of diversity, growth, and excellence (along with skills) is illustrated in an article (Romney, Ferron, and Hill 2008) recommended by the consultants. To elaborate a point made in Chapter 1, Readings (1996) links diversity and excellence as semiotically compatible, in that excellence allows for increasing integration of all activities into a generalized market while permitting a large degree of flexibility and innovation at the local level. Excellence is thus the integrating principle that allows ‘diversity’ (the other watchword of the University’s prospectus) to be tolerated without threatening the unity of the system. (Ibid.: 32)

Readings’ point can be seen in workshop assertions that excellence depends on faculty diversity, and that “intellectual vibrancy,” “educating to the highest levels,” scholarship, improved teaching and curriculum, and “department innovation” all promote status as “a leading academic institution.” Throughout, we see diversity and excellence aligned as strategically deployable shifters with notions of institutional ranking, progress, and innovation, indexing the consultants’ link to their primary addressees, the administrators who hired them. Throughout, the referring expression diversity is enregistered as an individual property disconnected from social formations like multicultural or minority. The idea of a diverse faculty enhancing a school is coherent with the idea of a diverse workforce enhancing a workplace. In this association of values, the institution counts most. The message we do not get is that disciplinary specificity matters; rather in this model, departments appear interchangeable, and diverse hires are ‘value added’ generically to the institution. Not addressed in these workshops (or by their primary addressees) is how increasing the number of ‘diverse’ faculty works for the diverse faculty themselves. There is much talk about the importance of critical mass, but those hired to be that critical mass need to be able to work in an institution that pays attention to what it means to be a faculty member from a background undervalued in the academy, especially when that involves class and gender disparity. There is also the disparity of being LGBTQ, even if sexual orientation is practically invisible

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in neoliberal diversity models. The fundamental issue is markedness: what does it mean to fit or not fit into the institution’s social norms, and how is that markedness acknowledged or patronized or ignored? Faculty leave an institution for many reasons. Some are not tenure-track to begin with, and put together academic careers from term appointments wherever possible, although this is much commoner in universities than in four-year institutions like the College. Some tenure-track faculty do not get tenure. Some faculty, untenured or tenured, may get better offers elsewhere. Or they may have unfriendly departments or issues with the administration, or they may not want to be in the area, or there may be less perceptible factors. Whatever the circumstances, faculty of color retention in both tenure-track and tenured positions remains challenging.7 Based on thirty or so interviews, plus many dozen faculty meetings and innumerable conversations from the late 1990s to the late 2010s, I would say that the one issue that never goes away for faculty of color, especially women, is frustration with an institutional tone-deafness to problematic actions, comments, and general attitudes—some from faculty, some from students, some from college visitors. Sometimes there seem to be no institutional channels that can address those actions; sometimes these actions are distinct and identifiable, if differentially interpreted; sometimes there is a general feeling of being ignored and/ or patronized; and sometimes there is a sense of frustratingly unclear expectations or even hostility from colleagues and students. The very nature of higher education as a recreator of status quo reinforces an atmosphere that tunes out all these concerns, and all that overlap with neoliberal corporate values is no help. Disciplinary insights could be enormously useful in designing and providing institutional resources, offices, and channels that recognize and address these concerns, which could help retain that critical mass of faculty. That would take some organizational planning, and as a solution it is hard to wrap up in a nice neoliberal package.

Teaching What Markedness Means Unsurprisingly, ‘diverse’ faculty do not see their job in terms of advancing institutional reputations. The faculty (some of color, some white) with whom I spoke in the 2000s and 2010s, saw themselves across the board as teachers. Faculty of color especially talked about being mentors to students of color. Overwhelmingly they see diversity in terms of inequality and markedness, and consider their primary job

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to be getting across the meaning of race, class, gender, and sexuality in their disciplines. Many emphasized linking course content to their students’ experience of life at the college. Professor Tyson, who teaches philosophy courses on African American identity, expressed concern about students experiencing identity fragmentation, a problem exacerbated by the difficulty of finding coursework that speaks to student experience. Professor Laney, who teaches classics and Africana studies, noted that black student self-identification depends on keeping connections with family and neighborhood, often leading them to conflate black authenticity with being urban and working class, to the point that some black students from working-class backgrounds may see black students from privileged backgrounds or highly integrated backgrounds as ‘not really black.’ Given that students are at an age when identity formation is critical, holding on to the familiar in an unfamiliar and challenging environment is crucial, as we saw in Chapter 4. Professor Laney expressed worry about the effect of these concerns on students’ best interests in the classroom. Professor Burgos had similar concerns about students in her courses on Spanish for native speakers and US Latino literature, most of whom were from the urban northeast and tended to identify Latino/a authenticity with a working-class Puerto Rican or Dominican background. In such courses, classroom dynamics are a function of what Professor Tyson describes as a “critical mass” of voices: Not so much that they’re there to represent any particular group but they have experiences, they have perspectives that are uniquely their own that they will share, and the greater the number of any particular voices that you will have in a particular classroom, you’re going to undermine the hegemony of any particular dominant voice. And I think that’s the key, in terms of diversity in the classroom.

Faculty commented on the ratio of marked to unmarked students as being critical. I found when I taught a discussion-centered course on Spanish–English bilingualism with nine students—five Latino/a, three US white, and one Israeli—the discussion got truly intense. Some class members thought this was also due to six of them being from New York City. On one occasion, half the class was talking at the same time and I was getting no traction, until one Latina New Yorker said, “Bonnie, you just have to jump in there!” When we talked about the class dynamics, a couple of the white students said they had never

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thought about what it meant to be in a mostly non-white class, and a couple of the non-New Yorkers commented on the experience of being in a class full of very talkative New Yorkers. Not all white students have this insightful response to a shift in markedness dynamics. Some faculty said that some of their white students found even a small increase in the proportion of students of color an ‘intimidating’ class environment, especially in courses taught by faculty of color. Professor Burgos: And I would say, “You know it’s interesting … that when you have more than two of any kid of color, they’re a majority, no matter how many people are present.” I said, “Do you realize that you are in the majority? There’s twenty white kids in this class and ten Latinos,” they were always amazed. “Wow!”

Also striking is the affective difference in students’ experience of course content. Several faculty mentioned how often white students made it clear they preferred race issues presented in celebratory rather than critical terms. One mentioned white students describing non-celebratory discussions as “depressing.” Another described some white students’ resentment of socially critical readings. For students of color, for whom in-class discussions of race are often academic takes on personal experience, white perspectives can be frustrating. The first time I taught the aforementioned course on bilingualism (in a much less lively class), we talked about the difference between academic and native fluency. One Puerto Rican student who had grown up in New York mentioned how much it irritated her to hear white non-native Spanish speakers “killing” the language. A white Spanish major asked in response how she could learn the language if she did not practice. After some awkward silence, I tried to explain that this was not about either of them as individuals, that they were looking at each other from opposite sides of a chasm that came out of the history of US–Puerto Rican colonial relations, and that this is how language became racialized. I am not sure how well that intervention succeeded, but I did tell them that I had heard the same irritation expressed by several people with whom I worked in my project on New York Puerto Rican bilingualism (Urciuoli 1996: 170–72). To grasp what race is, people need to grasp what social construction is, which is hard not only for students but for most people, including many academics, because those are hard implications to grasp, as discussed in the Introduction. Professor Cooper, while director of

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Africana studies, noted the difficulty of getting students—especially, but not only, white students—to understand that it is because race is a construct that its consequences deeply matter. Not only white students but Americans in general tend to see race as individuals with certain physical features and racists as individuals with bad attitudes, rather than both as the expression of structural principles. Professor Cromwell, who taught African American history, spoke of the importance of a carefully assembled curriculum to make the dimensions of that structure clear to students. One consequence of students not grasping this, Cromwell argued, is the tendency for many students, white and non-white, to assume that the grading in courses on African American history will be easy, though for different reasons: black students, who expect the courses to be about their own experience; and white students, who see African American history as not really part of American history, or who view Cromwell’s job as “plugging in the black bits” or who view any course on black history as the equivalent of 1960s–70s era ‘radical’ courses. I have heard all these points made by other faculty in Cooper’s and Cromwell’s positions, before and since. Africana studies and women’s studies both started in the 1980s as programs with faculty in existing departments contributing introductory courses, with other courses cross-listed from existing departments to make up a curriculum. The programs eventually acquired a tenure-track position for a director and other positions over time, allowing them to become departments. Professors Kidwell, Rich, and Clark, all instrumental in establishing the women’s studies program, oriented its coursework toward the intersectional nature of gender, race, class, and age, the latter two, Clark noted, being especially difficult to get students to think about. Professor Rich stressed the importance of using literature to teach students how these intersections work in both women’s studies and first-year coursework: “Why not use the First Year Seminar as a place to get kids—young, fresh—and really confront them with diversity issues through a topic?” Professor Kidwell, a historian who also developed disability studies courses, spoke of the difficulty of establishing a position for a historian of women because comparison schools did not have one, making it unlikely the school would support a historian for a women’s studies program. Clark described the difficulties of program expansion, given the administrative rhetoric of competition for resources. She also described the OIA shying away from women’s studies: “They don’t see us as the image of diversity they want to put out there,” that is, as representing its desired self-image. In

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the same vein, Professor Rich described the OIA picking and choosing representations that it preferred for its marketing; she also described the president shying away from the establishment of a social justice center in connection to first-year coursework. Even more serious was what Rich saw as the lack of connected goals, across different parts of the college, addressing race and gender inequality, as if official structures kept even people with common concerns from talking productively with each other. Instead, she thought, institutional dynamics seemed to encourage people to expand their own turf, the same point that Clark had made about the rhetoric of competition. Above all, Rich believed it important for white, middle-class students to imagine what it is like not to have the life they have—a stiff challenge, she thought, in the face of a college that seemed to want diversity, but one that did not change what the college had always been. Perhaps the hardest structural principle for anyone to grasp is class as structural inequality rather than as not having money. Some faculty saw this exacerbated by an institutional unwillingness to fully recognize the consequences of class for students, or to treat it as just another set of diversity numbers such as the number of first-generation students attending college. As Professor Mills, whom we meet later, put it, “I think the real incentive for the college at least is just to deal with appearances.” Professor Kidwell spoke of class as “a part of diversity that the college doesn’t want to look at, they don’t want to think about.” When clerical staff took her history classes (as part of a special program for staff), she hoped her regular undergraduates would see what it meant to balance home and work life with schoolwork. She saw too many students come to the College and learn to pretend an upper-middle-class status, a performance which “almost supersedes everything.” She especially worried about this in relation to her OP students, whom she greatly valued, and about whom she said: It doesn’t matter who you accept if you create an environment that doesn’t allow people to be who they are. It’s just like if you hire a person of color and then treat them like crap, they’re going to leave. If you hire people or admit people, you have to create an environment where they can be themselves.

The shaky place of class in the College, and the complex intersection of class and gender, is illustrated by an account of a program that existed for perhaps a decade. The program was designed to move women who were currently, or had been, on welfare into undergraduate education.

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Professor Darien, one of its founders, describes its motivation as “really to change legislation and make education a priority in their transition.” The program recruited single mothers, provided them with support services, and enrolled them in eight courses introducing them to “a very intense liberal arts curriculum” at the College, after which those who qualified were placed in a continuing undergraduate program, some at the College, some elsewhere. As explained by program director Professor Fox, the project model did not fit the diversity model of race with which the college generally seemed most comfortable. White working-class women in the program often found themselves ignored by ‘traditional’ (college-age) students; but working-class women of color had an additional issue. Fox reported a conversation with one project student who described how younger black students “act like I have rabies, they physically sit away from me.” That intersectionality of race, class, gender, age, and body image placed this student in an especially precarious position, which, given the point raised earlier about black student notions of urban authenticity, may seem a little ironic, but the operative elements are age and body image as markers of class. Students of color at the college must operate in a class habitus that is very much not their own, and they do get pushed into identity constructions that are a compromise between what they find authentic and what works at the College. Class markers from which they have tried to distance themselves further complicate their situation. Trying to find that space of fitting in is a problem for all project students. Fox described their wanting to see themselves as capable of fitting in, but then finding themselves distanced from the college’s highly classed gender norms. Fox’s project assistant, Ms. George, raised a point that illustrates the fractal recursivity8 (Irvine and Gal 2000: 38) shaping these identity formulations: George: Even among a class of students, each of our classes, they decide the other students that they’re in the same group with are not [College] students as well … Their class, their behavior, doesn’t model that of [College] students. Fox: Or “I’m only on food stamps, you’re on food stamps and section eight.” George: So, there’s class division in their own class years.

One dimension of this class intersectionality is the perception of local women at the college. Clerical employees, whose presence Professor Kidwell especially valued in her class, were overwhelmingly local, as

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were many of Fox’s project applicants. This is a link that the College has selectively promoted. The part of the state in which the college is located began deindustrializing just after World War II, when local textile mills began to move south. The major manufacturing industries of the 1950s and 1960s began relocating elsewhere in the 1970s. Family farming, especially dairy, gradually declined. Local manufacturing has largely been replaced by service and health-care work. The demographics shifted from the working-class European (especially Italian) immigrant populations of the early twentieth century to working-class immigrant and refugee populations from the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Northeast Africa, and Eastern Europe. These dynamics add up to a picture of economic struggle distributed unevenly through the area. The economic base of the village and town closest to the College have long been professional and small business, weathering the past half century of economic shift better than much of the rest of the region. I raise these points because they play into the lens of class through which anything local (including the workforce) is viewed from the perspective of much of the college’s marketing apparatus, as well as by many faculty. The OIA, given its charge, selects such attractive local elements as the spectacular natural scenery, otherwise choosing those local elements that best provide a useful marketing backdrop (such as opportunities for experiential education or community service outside the college bubble). The faculty attitude is a little different. In my three decades at the college, I was repeatedly struck by the number of faculty—male and female, white and non-white, straight and gay—who appear to find themselves in exile in this part of the country, and who project their attitude onto local people, including those working at the school. None of this attitude is particularly specific to this college. But it is troubling that some of the same people who quickly perceive inequalities of race and gender find manifestations of class so opaque.

Diversity Curriculum, by Design or Default? Around 1990, the college included in its graduation requirements something called “knowledge of others,” which by the mid-1990s had been renamed “cultural diversity,” completed by one of the following options: college study abroad; completing a course in a foreign language with social/cultural content; completing a course focused on social relations, power, and authority from diverse sociocultural perspectives; completing any course in Africana studies, Asian studies, Latin American studies, Russian studies or women’s studies. This

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requirement suggests the existence of something called a ‘diversity course.’ While the women’s studies and Africana studies faculty supported the idea of a requirement, they preferred not to have their programs reduced to the means to fulfill a requirement. What counted as a diversity course was the subject of some contention, given the equivalences set up by the requirement’s wording: was this about a foreign experience, or social justice, or something not Western, or what? What Professor A saw as diversity, Professor B saw as radical politics; what Professor C saw as diversity, Professor D saw as apolitical and Professor E saw as exoticist. In the mid-1990s, a subcommittee of the faculty curricular committee was appointed to fashion language for this requirement, with clearly defined goals and means of fulfillment, for the faculty to vote on. For two years, the subcommittee met regularly, held open faculty discussions, and made presentations at faculty meetings. It mapped out language proposing a requirement filled by two courses, at least one clearly addressing some aspect of inequality and at least one clearly addressing some notion of difference, courses to be decided by students with their advisors, and with the understanding that many courses addressed both. When this language was presented to the faculty curricular committee, that committee decided that two courses would be too much and that the language explaining the requirement was too complicated. The committee reduced the requirement to one course, to be decided by student and advisor. When this proposal came up for a faculty vote in 2000, it was voted down. From time to time, new attempts were made to craft a requirement, but nothing gained traction until the mid-2010s when the faculty curricular committee decided, in response to concerns raised by the Collective (Chapter 4), to revisit the requirement. The curricular subcommittee held open faculty discussions for several months, facilitated by a faculty member who had held visiting appointments at the College and who had had considerable experience organizing such discussions and maintaining a consistent thread throughout. One department had already decided to implement its own requirement as part of its major, and a member of that department suggested this might be an effective strategy for the College as a whole. The idea of designing a requirement tailored to discipline-specific concerns quickly took off and was soon formulated and passed by the faculty—a rare moment that the importance of a discipline-specific perspective on ‘diversity’ became recognized college-wide. Then there is the question of programs often characterized as ‘political’ (women’s studies, Africana studies) or ‘apolitical’ (Latin American

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studies, Asian studies). The ‘political’ programs were always concerned with questions of inequality, but one would think the supposedly ‘apolitical’ programs were as well, as it is hard to study Latin America or Asia without considering issues of global colonialism. The ‘apolitical’ perception might have been due to their histories at the college: Latin American studies having had too little institutional investment, and, in a way, Asian studies having had too much. As explained by Professor Strauss, founder and chair of Latin American studies, it began in the 1980s with an orientation toward Latin America rather than US Latinos. He had organized it around social science, history, and language and literature, and he certainly saw class and colonialism as central. But as the people supplying those courses left the school or changed their specialty, and as there was no administrative commitment to replace them, the program grew hard to sustain. Nor did deans or other faculty seem to consider Latin America an important focus of study. The Asian studies program, as explained by its chair Professor Hart, probably started in the 1970s as a collection of courses. In the 1990s and 2000s it grew considerably, as the college invested in East Asian languages and as the program was awarded a series of grants making possible faculty positions, including teaching fellows and post-docs. It also received a lot of OIA coverage that cast it as business-practical and high-end culture: an attractive diversity package for the college, but in becoming so, many faculty came to see it as overprivileged. Although programs end up in different places, they are generally formed the same way: a few faculty become interested in developing a program offering a minor or possibly a major. They put together a proposal specifying required and elective courses. A couple of people dedicate themselves to covering the core courses, and struggle to find others to offer enough electives. Unlike departments, programs depend on dedicated personnel. If key program faculty leave or cannot continue their commitment, the program may be out of luck if that faculty member’s department does not hire someone who can continue those courses. Developing a curriculum without a department makes theoretical coherence difficult, whatever the discipline. Maintaining a critical mass of courses that consistently and coherently address structural inequalities is especially hard under such conditions. So, the race or gender bits are too likely to be ‘plugged in’ wherever possible. The First Year course mentioned earlier, an effort among a handful of faculty that lasted for some years, was devised as a way around the program problem, the idea being to foster student reflection on growing up in the United States. Professor Rich saw it as a way to work

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around the absence of coherent structural planning needed for major curricular reform. Professor Darien, who also taught First Year courses, explained: “When we designed it, we thought of touching on some issues, not necessarily or specifically on diversity, but issues about coming of age. And coming of age could mean different things to different minority groups; it could mean by gender, by class.”

What Are We Supposed to Call It? When faculty try to talk about markedness across different disciplines, the disciplinary disjunction leads to default language. The default language can lead to metasemantic justification for that language, which also sheds light on what many faculty think education ‘should’ do. The backstory is as follows. In the early 2010s, the college had just completed its periodic review by its regional accrediting agency. The agency had, in keeping with neoliberal concerns for outcomes assessment, recommended that the college formulate explicit educational goals, statements of what students ideally get out of their education, which the dean of faculty asked the curricular committee to do. It produced eight goals, and set up subcommittees to come up with language for each. This language, when passed by the faculty, would be posted on the website, and used by departments to advise on and assess what students were getting from their education, thus demonstrating faculty accountability, particularly desirable given that the college had no distribution requirements. While this bit of audit culture turned out to be mostly pro forma, once the goals were approved, many faculty did try to take them seriously.9 In the faculty meeting in which the language of the goals was presented by their subcommittees for approval, several goals (intellectual engagement, aesthetic discernment, ethical citizenship, and other formulaic descriptors of liberal arts ‘outcomes’) were approved with minimal discussion. The last led to a half-hour discussion: Navigating and Negotiating Cultural Difference—critically engaging with different cultural traditions and perspectives, and with interpersonal situations that enhance understanding of different identities and foster the ability to work and live productively and harmoniously with others.10

Of the nearly one hundred faculty present, fewer than twenty engaged in the discussion. Much of it was about the importance of fixing exact

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terms of reference.11 No one other than my anthropology colleagues and me had a problem with the term culture. The discussants clearly saw these concepts as potentially agentive, capable of transforming students, if phrased just right: Is the suggested language sufficiently active? Does the phrase Navigating and Negotiating in the heading sufficiently imply movement and journey, urging students to “act in positive ways”? The metasemantic discussion showed discussants trying to fit these concepts together like a puzzle: Should understanding or negotiating be in the heading or in the following explanatory text? Should multiple be substituted for different to avoid suggesting that some traditions are more central than others? Does cultural understanding or cultural literacy better highlight the academic nature of this goal? Might cultural understanding suggest only understanding one’s own culture? Would intercultural be an improvement? Or intercultural understanding? Does understanding or negotiating sound more like an educational goal? Especially interesting to me was the question “Why shouldn’t the word diversity be in the heading?,” which made me wonder if the subcommittee had deliberately not used the term. Once that suggestion had been made, there was no removing the word. The goal was re-headed Understanding of Cultural Diversity, and the language following the heading was very slightly changed.12 The dean thanked the faculty for passing the language and “taking charge” of the statement of the College’s goals, removing it from “other constituencies,” by which he may have meant the OIA. The language passed by faculty was put on the college website (followed by the actual graduation requirements) and printed on banners hung around the college by the OIA for visitors to see. The discussion thus generated what amounted to marketing language that refreshed the College brand. The discussion largely avoided the uneven semantics of culture and reference to race or inequality, except for substituting diversity for difference: what struck me here was the notion held by several faculty that diversity means race in a way that difference does not, and so diversity had to be in the language. A couple of faculty members did comment on unexamined notions of inequality buried in the use of culture, but neither got traction in the larger discussion. A colleague, who had been on a subcommittee tasked with crafting language for this goal before it came to the faculty, had commented that culture seemed like a vague term, but other committee members asked what else they could call it. To them culture seemed useful. The idea that culture had discipline-specific meaning was outweighed by its generic usefulness and perhaps its capacity to index an alignment. In short, culture and

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diversity became the default referring expressions for college-wide discussion, as they had been since 1990 (see Urciuoli 2009). The faculty discussion involved a limited set of interlocutors, and operated on the assumption that no one had to respond to any specific speaker. Most wanted language that would direct student subjectivity toward self-improvement, suggesting that carefully crafted language really could affect student behavior, motivating the (unmarked) student to be more thoughtful and inclusive. Most participants in the discussion assumed that the right language could affect student subjectivity, which limited how anyone assuming otherwise might participate or be understood. The terms of participation seemed almost a competition to put forward language that best created this desirable outcome. The few comments not attuned to that metasemantic wavelength drew little if any response. Those who participated most extensively managed to navigate the dissonance between the importance of precise denotation (words mean things) and the need to settle for some semantic indeterminacy (call it culture because what else could one call it?). Successful participation also drew from alliances of mutual sympathy, support, and perspective. Participants presented themselves as experts in the goals of liberal arts education, and therefore experts in how students should be advised and what advising should accomplish; as such, they saw their institutional role as the production of the right language forms for the right outcome, signaling such alignments by how they talk about the referring expressions. They were solving problems.13

Contradictions and Limits The contradiction between the default terms used in institutionally public discussion of diversity (which Professor Laney described as categories of difference treated as types of food) and the complexities addressed in teaching remains frustrating. As Professor Burgos described it: “this sort of system of either camouflage or overrepresentation that we end up providing in the way of images of cultural diversity or cultural democracy at the college that really don’t exist … [it] isn’t ‘add race and stir,’ you know.” Exacerbating this frustration is the difficulty of ascertaining who makes what decisions, a point on which several faculty echoed observations made by Ms. Wells and Ms. Warwick in Chapter 3: few people seemed to know how decisions were made. That unknowing seems to work in favor of the status quo. Several faculty commented on the administrative tendency to appoint one person to one task and call

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the problem solved, leaving, as Professor Rich put it, each separate office to ‘do its own thing,’ with no one else seeing the whole picture. A related and recurring point of contention was the tendency of presidents and deans to insert personnel into positions without a regular search or even apparent consideration of why that appointee fitted the position. Was this meant to ‘diversify’ the college without changes in structure or even appearance? Is that why the ‘diversity center’ did not have in its official title any explicit reference to diversity or race, or why the process of creating a senior-staff-level CDO position went on for so long? Is this why the notion of a ‘diversity of ideas’ has been so persistent? Professors Cooper and Cromwell both saw in the college’s limited representations of diversity a way of avoiding substantial investment in institutional change—or as Professor Cooper put it, faculty ‘sprinkling’ references to race onto their courses is not the same as institutional efforts to hire people trained to develop a critical race curriculum. Similarly, Professor Tyson criticized student recruitment through a branded product like Posse, but without a coherent plan for what works best for students: “We might be better off putting it together ourselves than buying it off the shelf.” He also asked, for whose benefit are college diversity initiatives? And, if students are recruited to provide diversity, what do they get out of it? If the institution is serious, it should make a concerted effort to improve the curriculum, housing conditions, and the overall number of faculty, staff, and administration of color, with clearly stated quantitative goals for student and faculty recruitment. Both faculty and students of color experience conflation and fractal recursivity. The conflation is evident in the way unmarked students and faculty are likely to expect, explicitly or not, that everyone in a marked category will share attitudes, actions, alliances, behavior, and so on. Experiences of this are extremely common. Faculty of color report expectations, sometimes from students or other faculty of color, sometimes from white colleagues, that they will act as formal or informal advisors for students of color. Professor Burgos described how she and her predecessor, as junior female faculty, were assigned by senior male faculty14 to advise the LSO as if it were their department service. When she did so, the fractal recursivity set in as students sought to ‘place’ her in their own perceptions of what it meant to be Latina; Professor Burgos described them as ‘testing’ to see if hers was the ‘right kind’ of ‘Spanish’ for them, because she was not from New York as they were. None of this aspect of her service was taken seriously by the department’s senior faculty, nor was it visible to administrators

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or unmarked faculty. Similarly, the first few Africana studies directors were expected to advise the BSO, whose members expected them to grasp their worldview, whether those advisors had grown up in the United States or not (and not all of them had.) Professor Tyson saw this as a critical mass problem: When you have a small population, everyone seems to cling together rather tightly and actually feel threatened by attempts by those considered members of this group to associate with members of the other group. Once there’s a sufficient number of students on campus, it begins to break down this division between us and them. There are enough of so-called us on campus that one can feel comfortable with people in terms of the particularities of their personalities and background, as opposed to simply in terms of broad categories of “well, he’s black, I’m black, we need to stick together.”

Yet at the same time, when everyone feels the need to cling tightly together, identities within that larger group can be sharply felt, as happened with West Indian students who at various points felt alienated from African American students. LSO members reported similar patterns. Advisors to the ASO and the LGBTQ student clubs, however, did not describe comparable expectations from students, nor the same internal divisiveness. As both pointed out, the role of advisor at the college is underspecified, but the job of advising BSO and LSO does seem more entangled with race/class issues than the job of advising ASO. At this point, it is helpful to hear from someone whose experience at the college predates most faculty interviewed up to this point, and who both confirms many of their perceptions, and offers a contrasting perspective, both cautionary and critical. Professor Crispin came to the college from the West Indies and taught in the 1980s and 1990s. While her position was not specified as a minority hire, she was told that her retention fulfilled a double first for her department: the first tenured woman, and the first tenured minority. In fact, she was the first black faculty member tenured at the college. She took an active part in curricular review processes and served on the Africana studies committee, but did not take on the kind of activist or social justice program planning that many other faculty of color did. Her concern was to create an integrated department academic program through which students would learn a specific set of principles, but with some choice of electives. These included her courses that featured Caribbean literature as well as the linguistic nature of Jamaican Creole, a subject on which she had published important historical and variational work.

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Although she did not encounter overt hostility, she detected significant resistance to whatever people found marked. For example, one colleague seemed unable to pronounce a phonetically straightforward African surname, commenting “it’s too foreign, these African names,” which, as she put it, “made the racial difference into an incongruity.” Another said “that I had a fine mind, but it was a pity I was wasting it on the study of this primitive language, Jamaican Creole.” For some colleagues, “both my academic approach and the content I proposed seemed to be threatening.”15 Eventually, she said, avoidance of threatening content brought about a curricular fragmentation in her department, which she saw as a disintegrative process as it allowed everyone to offer only their specialty. She observed that while this approach made possible identity-oriented scholarship for some, a more pedagogically productive approach would have been a department working together to build a program with an integrated range of subjects. But that would have meant engaging with (instead of ignoring) unfamiliar content. I think that the aftereffect of this fragmentation across the college has been contradictory. On the one hand, there has been a range of courses on race, gender, and class, even though many of these courses were disvalued by other faculty. But without sufficient incentive for integrated curricular development, there were for a long time (I cannot say if there are still) what amount to niches in which the unmarked have their courses and students, and the marked have theirs. Related to this is the conflation of all forms of markedness as somehow ‘the same.’ Professor Crispin mentioned a colleague in another department who assumed she would identify as African American or know black American cultural history (although she had never been to the United States until she attended graduate school), just because she was black or, as she put it, “should that be ‘Black?’” Another example of such conflation took place when the chair of a department about to do a search for an African American specialist asked her to be on the search committee. She agreed until she asked the chair if he had asked her as a representative of Africana studies, and if so, how might his department’s new position coordinate with that program. It turned out, no, she had been asked to serve simply as a minority representative, at the suggestion of someone else in that department who had apparently gone and read up the conditions or guidelines for hiring minorities—it may have been the Equal Opportunity guidelines, I’m not sure. But somewhere this person had found that if you are making a minority hire … you ought to have a minority person on the interviewing committee.

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She declined, saying that while she was interested in how the hire went, “I will not serve as the representative of an ethnic group.” Many faculty conflated all black and Latino/a students, assuming all were OP. Although many of them simply came, did well, and graduated: All that I used to hear about and that everybody used to hear about were the minority students who needed extra tutoring, who couldn’t pass math, who couldn’t do this, who couldn’t do that. And there were … anecdotes where established professors in various departments would say … I don’t want another of those OP students in my class because they’re too much trouble.

Particularly problematic was the pressure toward political activism exerted by some students and faculty on other students of color. Professor Crispin described instances of black students who “simply wanted to be students” but “they had to be black students of a certain kind, and they weren’t. So, they were wrong, and they were supposed to change.” She described one particularly unfortunate example, when a student of hers performed unexpectedly poorly in a written exam. Instead of producing the “highly skilled literary analysis in her normal range” that Professor Crispin expected, “she missed the racial and cultural complexities, which she usually handled,” and instead wrote a polemic. Professor Crispin suggested to her that this was not her usual work, and a few days later received a letter from her saying “that she had been told she should be an activist and a leader in racial matters … [and] had begun to see enemies everywhere, and she had just woken up.” Problems like this would arise when faculty treated students as potential converts rather than students—worse still when faculty were hired to do so. Such pressures could limit rather than expand how US students of color saw themselves, not to mention exacerbate tensions among students themselves. Professor Crispin summarizes some of the tensions underlying these dynamics. There is the ‘safe’ diversity that unmarked people and institutions are comfortable with, something like in a shop laid out, where you can buy something and take it home and arrange it and it will be a nice decoration; and people will say, where did you get that lovely scarf or fan that you have on your wall.

There is also the peculiarly American quality to it that

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to me, as an outsider … disables its children from learning a language other than English … [that] also seems to strip away an ability to see out from America into other countries and into other people’s ways of life … You don’t want to know the politics of it or the motives of it.

What she characterized as this “blocked sensibility” affects both students of color and white students and, she added, may be what makes them unwilling to accept that Caribbean writers like Derek Walcott might be widely educated, or that white West Indian writers like Jean Rhys could write about anything Caribbean. But there were always students, both of color and white, who did not fall into such thinking. And note how what Professor Crispin says here lines up with what Joseph (also West Indian) and Elena (European) had to say in Chapter 4. She concluded: I have always had that feeling, that I was very useful as a face. I was photographed a fair bit and appeared in handbooks and things. It didn’t trouble me greatly at the time, I found it rather amusing. But somehow, I felt that I was a symbol, but an empty symbol, because what was inside me was not really known. And that comes back again to what I said about the institution and the department not really wanting to know, being rather frightened by me and by what I had to offer.

When I responded, “It does seem to be an institution capable of being made to feel uncomfortable rather easily,” she answered, “Yes, but they are not sufficiently uncomfortable to get up and do something about it.” All the accounts in this section point to both individual and institutional perspectives on markedness anchored in the assumed priority of the default position of the comfortably unmarked. This is the source of limits on institutional action and policies. From this position arises the non-recognition of the conditions in which marked students live and marked faculty work, despite the institutional drive to increase their numbers, addressed by everyone interviewed here. These conditions are characterized by the contradictions of conflations and divisions and lame excuses that further entrap people. The frustration of faculty attempts to work within those limits, seen throughout this chapter, matches that experienced by students from their attempts to do so, seen in previous chapters. And while many faculty see activism as one answer to institutional inertia, both for themselves and their students, it is not the answer for all faculty or all students. The important

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question here is, how should faculty regard students. There has been, and still is, an important, if fine, line between some students wanting to see social activism as part of their education and some faculty designing coursework to privilege activist over analytic aims rather than complement them. Students should be able to engage in activism, but if they do not want to, they should not be expected to do so, either by faculty or other students. As we briefly saw in the previous chapter, sports is another area of college life fenced in by the limits of institutionally defined diversity, especially as most faculty do not see athletes in their notions of ideal students. As Coach Merrill (football) put it: We’ve sat through many a faculty meeting when they’re talking about football and fraternities … The thing that is so troubling [is that] all our kids are from different backgrounds, and they get here and they’re all on the same team—they’re not all in the same fraternity but a majority of them are in separate fraternities. So, any time there’s a drinking-fraternity issue, everybody automatically assumes ‘football.’ I would say that’s profiling.

Not only profiling, but misunderstanding: “the working-class kid knows how to work, he’s had to work for things his whole life.” As to the college’s ‘official’ diversity categories, that kind of design-by-numbers is not how a team is put together: “We were bringing in working-class kids, we were bringing in minority kids, we were bringing in well-to-do kids. It was a mixture of all those things. And again, that wasn’t by design.” Coach Petroff (basketball) similarly noted that there are faculty who see students in terms of classroom performance but not otherwise as people. He also commented on the imagery of idealized students driven by concern for the rankings, a concern that does not include competitive intercollegiate athletics, judging from his budget. And as far as he can tell, the way the college talked about diversity fitted into that image of, as he put it, “product diversity.” Teams, by contrast, could show racial and class diversity, and because students had to work together on a team, they could learn from each other very directly. While he was a great supporter of the OP (in its emphasis on class and in the way it was run), he saw Posse as an expenditure of institutional resources largely to promote imagery and numbers. Professor O’Hare (golf) also commented on the discomfort many academics felt about working-class men, whether physical plant

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employees treated as if invisible or ‘helmet sport’ athletes assumed incapable of good classwork: I think people want ethnic diversity but not as much political diversity as people would like … In fact, I’d have to say one of the worst things about the College … is that we have too much of people talking to other people they agree with and not enough people talking to people they disagree with … I think the real value of diversity for a college is, it sharpens intellectual debate, it teaches people to better appreciate others’ views, and better appreciate other people, and prepares them not only to be better intellectually but to be better citizens.

One faculty member, Professor Ferguson, shared the coaches’ perceptions that too many faculty looked down on working-class men, whether the maintenance staff or students playing football, basketball, or hockey. He also shared their perspective that the institution looked on diversity as the same kind of people but with different packaging, with class as the real issue: Although the people they want to bring in may look different than they do, they speak the same discourse, … their research interests parallel, so there’s a creation of a certain camaraderie and comfort level. And that’s not my understanding of what we’re here for. A liberal arts education should be geared toward different ways of knowing.

Why, he asked, could ‘diversity’ not be clearly defined? Why did it not include the military or religious fundamentalists or political conservatives? If someone were hired to teach African American course content because they were black when someone not black might be better qualified, was that so the supervising dean could “build his diversity credentials?” If so, where was the dean when two highly qualified faculty of color were not retained by their chairs for reasons that were specious at best, as both were certainly productive scholars. In raising what they characterize as a limited understanding of what diversity might mean and the contradictory attitudes about gender and class, the coaches and Professor Ferguson bring us back to the strategically loose semantics of diversity. As they point out, if the institution uses the term as it does, then it is legitimate to ask on what basis it draws its lines. More to the point, it seems that even people of color are only valued as diverse if they fit an implicit institutional template. The limits and contradictions discussed in this section are consequent to diversity being conceptualized as a ‘thing’ that can be plugged

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into an existing institution, a process that Stevens (2007: 142) calls retrofitting. This is also made clear in the next set of comments, which focus not on what diversity means, but on how it functions institutionally: where it can or cannot be plugged in, who is trying to do so, why, with what motives, and with what evidence that the people doing that plugging-in at an institutional level know why they are doing it, or not. Professor Moller, who had considerable experience as a business communication consultant, compared academic and business organizations, pointing out that however much colleges and universities might talk about themselves in business terms, they are not structured like businesses. One cannot talk about diversity in any organization without considering its place in a larger set of policies and practices through which it is implemented, and in relation to the ways in which that organization does what it is supposed to do. Thus, diversity in a corporation and diversity in higher education have quite different meanings. Furthermore, businesses are centralized in ways that colleges and universities are not, as can be seen from the fact that there is no central control of the curriculum as there is for student life. Professor Marks (whom we met in Chapter 2) pointed out that colleges and universities developed diversity policies and practices in relation to their market niche, which in turn depends on endowment per capita. The more money a school wants to raise, the more it must spend to maintain that place, with every other school in that market sector spending in the same pattern. The money a school has available to bring in working-class students, including students of color, must be figured into the bigger picture of how that school maintains its place. Faculty who had been at the college when it was still all male point out the imaginative and logistic distance that the college had to span when, along with its peer institutions in the late 1980s, it first contemplated multicultural (as it was then called) recruitment. Professor Baker and Professor Weiss noted changing relations among faculty, president, and trustees. Professor Baker saw little interest in anything linked to diversity until it became imperative for the school. Professor Weiss saw the advent of corporatized policies in the 1980s, as did Professor Marks. Professor Mills suggested that the college found diversity focused on women to be an easier ‘sell’ than race because the latter was likely to involve class difference as well, and as he saw it there was a lot of unspoken investment in maintaining class status in the student body: “If you have to take class seriously, it’s going to cost you a lot of money, whereas if you can do it in terms of other issues, where you don’t have to take class seriously, it doesn’t cost

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as much.” As he saw it, the college was caught between the latter strategy and the realization that diversity played a role in a college’s national ranking. At the same time, as marketing became increasingly important, the school’s marketers could not let go of what they saw as ‘old College’ iconicity which became intertwined with the new ‘diversity’ messaging. Professor Darien said that the school never thought through what it wanted from diversity initiatives, as institutional uses of the term have no consistent referent. Each use involves a different procedure. If diversity means diversifying the curriculum, that will vary across disciplines. Admissions will want higher student numbers, and the dean of faculty will want higher faculty numbers. If the school wants global diversity, it should bring in more international students from different class backgrounds, and pay for them. But if the school wants to look more like its peers, or represent the demographics of the larger society, or create mutual benefit with the idea that diversity benefits everyone, it is not clear how to bring those ends about, or how to best allocate resources to do so. “Then you have the Board of Trustees … because ultimately those are the decision makers,” and boards of trustees in most liberal arts colleges tend to be fairly homogeneous: so, what do they think diversifying the entire institution means?

Final Thoughts In her analysis of diversity in Wannabe U, Tuchman (2009: 164–71) describes inconsistent administrative priorities, shifting between the desire to admit more students of color and hire more underrepresented faculty, and the importance of merit and “hiring the best” with discussions about resources to use on searches for faculty of color, and various forms of waffling by different provosts on how to do it. In the mid-1990s, the then president and provost identified “multiculturalism and diversity” as essential to the school’s mission, establishing in 1998 an office that set up a series of parallel academic programs and student centers to address the “whole student.” Then a new board chair decided that an emphasis on diversity was helpful “to business,” as employees would come from a variety of ethnic groups; so the vice provost was asked to report back to the board with an appropriate diversity plan. The plan packaged multicultural and international affairs together, but some years later the two were disconnected. Diversity was also packaged into the WU strategic plan for developing a worldclass university; to cite the institutional language: “‘It will be a diverse

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community where the highest moral and ethical values will prevail with a dual purpose, an inward focus on learning and an outward focus on service”’ (ibid.: 168). In her analysis of ‘disciplining’ ethnic studies in a major urban corporate university, Dávila (2008: 139–52) shows how such programs operate as a containment system. They especially contain African American, Latino/a, and Asian American ‘diversity’ hires who, like gender specialists, are routinely typified as studying themselves, and whose disciplines, focused as they are on socially marked groups in the United States, are considered lower status, glossing over specifics of structural inequality within the subject matter of those disciplines, as Latino glosses over the uneven ground of class, race and indigeneity across Central and South America and the Caribbean. Dávila also writes about the extra expectations placed on such program faculty, standing for tenure while segregated in programs where one is expected to ‘mentor’ students while reviewers may disvalue one’s scholarship as not matching their own standard. Such programs also serve institutional interests by providing (especially middle-class white) students, as future ‘leaders’ or at least as employees with globalization skills, with a form of training (rather than education), which Handler (2013) writes about as highly desired by students eager to solve problems in the world. What Dávila and Tuchman address, and what I have described in this chapter, arise from the principle of plugging diversity, whatever it might mean, into an institution in ways that least affect what its most privileged stakeholders value most. In a university it can be seen in the detail that Dávila and Tuchman provide. In a small college, such details may be harder to see, but the principle is the same. Such plugging-in is compromised by the very nature of what it gets plugged into, as the last few faculty perspectives show (and which the reader will recognize as the perspectives informing my analyses throughout this book): that schools are not businesses, no matter how much a business model is invoked; that diversity initiatives formed to accommodate market standing are hard to sustain; and that schools need to figure out what they mean by diversity and why they want it. Given this model built around stasis, numbers, and imagery, it is no surprise that faculty of color so often leave, or that situations arise in which administrators do not seem to grasp how difficult institutional life can be for those faculty. I cannot emphasize enough that this is not at all specific to the College. I think what happens is that, given the contemporary ecology

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of higher education, it either simply does not occur to presidents, boards of trustees, or senior administrators to do anything other than retrofit, or else alternatives do occur to them but seem unfeasible. So instead of, as Professor Darien put it, thinking through what it is they actually have and what it is they actually want—and, if they really want equity, how they go about getting it—they opt for a model of ‘diverse students’ and ‘diverse faculty’ with which they are institutionally comfortable. They start with the ready-made OMB “Affirmative Action” categories, and they construct a generic person of color exemplifying those categories; one type for each category, but basically interchangeable. A type that fits the faculty category should be compatible with the type that fits the student category. This assumption fits neoliberal white expectations that marked people will demonstrate their worth by embodying their markedness as organizational contributions; as such, this assumption fits a more general agenda in which the unmarked set the terms by which markedness is represented and allowed to play out. Diversity experts who are themselves diverse fit this model as credentialed, entrepreneurial problem solvers whose own markedness adds authenticity to their expertise. Marked faculty are in a different position, expected to embody markedness in safe, unchallenging, downward-targeted ways: as mentors to students, as boxes ticked off in dean’s office accounting, as very visible committee members. The more marked they are, the greater this expectation. The neoliberal model works very well for treating faculty and students like pieces of a marketing mosaic, but it is not really an effective way to operate an institution in which academic workers, however marked by race, class, gender, or sexuality, can do their best job.

Notes  1. As to the faculty we meet in this chapter, professors Drake, Tyson, Laney, Cooper, Cromwell, and Crispin are black. Professor Burgos is Latina. Professors Kidwell, Rich, Clark, Fox, Mills, Moller, Marks, Ferguson, Phelps, Watson, Hart, Strauss, Weiss, Baker, O’Hare, and sports coaches Merrill and Petroff, are white. All are from the United States except Professor Darien, who is from the Middle East and does not identify himself by US demographic categories.   2. In her study of university corporatization, Tuchman (2009: 227) describes an administrator’s comment that “consultants roam the country” making recommendations that result in all institutions looking the same, then changing the template so the process could begin all over again.   3. The information for each workshop is drawn from instructional materials provided by the consultants, their websites, and my own notes.

Where Is the Faculty in All This?  ♦ 263  4. LaDousa and I both analyze discursive activity shaped by neoliberal conditions, in his case a state agency, in mine, a higher education institution, raising the possibility that, as LaDousa puts it, being “useful to two different entities in radically different ways” (2014: 205) might specifically index neoliberal interests. Searle (2013), analyzing the neoliberal marketing stories told by Indian developers, similarly notes: “This project required a dual addressivity: both foreign investors and actual residents had to be courted. Developers used the figure of the ‘professional’ to do precisely this work: to attract consumers and investors, and to build a new real estate market” (ibid.: 280).  5., accessed 11/29/20.  6. Hall examines the rhetoric and ideology of what is presented as ‘scientific evidence’ for utilitarian-based ‘solutions’ that public school teachers are constrained to deploy in their teaching—solutions often themselves commodified, much as the IAT has been.  7. Nor is hiring and retaining female faculty all that easy: the proportion of women in tenured or tenure-track positions at the College changed little from the 1990s to the mid-2010s.   8. Projecting an opposition onto other levels of contrast. For example, X versus Y, then within X, the contrast of those most X with those Xs somehow more like Y; or within Y, the contrast of those really Y versus the Ys more like X.  9. The fall semester after they were passed, I attended a pre-advising session during Orientation Week on presenting the goals to students. None of the speakers talked about the goals or even liberal arts generally in terms of learning to understand a complex, uncertain, and ambiguous world. Rather, they emphasized utility, students perceiving liberal arts through the lens of self-development projects, with each goal representing a technique for designing a productive self. As I was leaving, I overheard an orientation leader say to another exiting the same meeting, “So what are our new educational goals?” to which the other replied, “Who knows?” 10. See also Tuchman (2009: 230) on the efforts of the Provost’s Office of the university which she studied to develop diversity language for goals in their academic plan—e.g., “expand our understanding of cultural differences”; “infuse diversity throughout the curriculum.” The register I describe here is clearly not restricted to the College. 11. Specifically, as one participant put it, “words mean things, and every time you change the words you change the meaning of things.” To him, the discussion showed miscommunication, a state of affairs supposedly avoidable if interlocutors use a common set of referring expressions with stable, clearly definable, and agreed-on meanings. Along the same lines, when I gave a faculty talk on this research, two colleagues said the object of my research should be a clear definition of diversity. These metapragmatic statements, like the above discussion of ‘cultural diversity,’ assume that teaching rests on, and research should produce, authoritative texts that can nail down denotata. See Urciuoli 2010.

264  ♦  Neoliberalizing Diversity 12. The clause “and foster the ability to work and live productively and harmoniously with others” was unchallenged despite its – to me at least – neoliberal undertone of producing self-directed but docile human capital. 13. This pretty typical faculty meeting illustrates Schwartzman’s (1989: 86) point that organizational maintenance is accomplished not by meeting content but by its form, which includes the fact that there are meetings. 14. Who were from Spain, whereas the junior women were Latin American. 15. Nor was this necessarily a response to Caribbean language and literature. When she suggested the department add Canadian literature to the curriculum, she was met first with silence, then with laughter. One comment, “Canadians have no literature to speak of,” made her wonder why they were proud of her course in Caribbean literature but were unable to admit the works of Robertson Davies and Margaret Atwood.

Conclusion rrr

Clearly ‘diversity,’ as analyzed in this book and as professors Moller, Marks, and Darien point out at the end of the last chapter, cannot be disentangled from its institutional functions. The term’s slippery semantic qualities point to that fact. Throughout this book, we have seen diversity in liberal arts marketing, admissions, student life, and administration as a neoliberalized imagining of social markedness framed as white, black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian, each weighted the same and equated implicitly with ‘race’ without recognition of what is racial about those categories. They can be counted, visualized, and worked explicitly or implicitly into texts that show colleges and universities advantageously to those to whom their symbolic capital matters: competitors, donors, customers. Something that looks like race is less risky and more countable than sexual orientation or gender identity, and it is more readily identified with a young vibrant population than are age or ability. In short, markers that look a little (but not too much) like race, that come in countable units, and that do not index structural inequalities, make it possible to represent and talk about diversity in ways that signify institutional goodwill. Talking around race in this fashion can in fact be pretty racist in function if it does not challenge the maintenance of markedness. This space may be largely male, largely white, largely straight; it may also be ‘conversely racialized’ as Mena and García (2020) develop that notion, pointing not to anything unmarked and race-specific (i.e., white) but to something unmarked and not race-specific: apparent inclusivity in a neoliberally safe way. I think the diversity I have described in this book works much the same way that Spanish does at the new border campus of the University of Texas system, as analyzed by Mena and García. This Spanish becomes not white per se but disconnected from race/class indexes of Spanish felt by, say, someone like Gloria Anzaldúa (an alumna of the UT branch preceding that new campus) who so poetically and painfully showed how she experienced those indexes of that Spanish. There is no way a Spanish so indexed, pointing to racialized and class-disadvantaged users, could become part of a neoliberal brand—nor could any ‘diversity’ that indexed a truly racialized,

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class-disadvantaged experience. And branding is what neoliberal disconnection from race/class indexing is about, whether language or ‘diversity.’ Yet people are supposed to believe in such brands, to accept them as somehow ‘real.’ Organizations and institutions that treat diversity in the ways described in this book are invested in everyone concerned taking it seriously as the institution presents it, and not just as marketing. Creating this illusory inclusion, this apparent equality based on images and numbers and promises, this space of apparent unmarkedness, excuses organizations and institutions from having to do real inside work. For diversity to take on this neoliberal function, the place of the marked, whether students or faculty, must be established so that the marked must pretty much accept the terms of representation set up by the unmarked, which includes the marked being responsible for editing racializing indexes from their presentations of self. A few carefully framed exceptions are allowed: musical or artistic performance, academic presentations such as publications, invited lectures, or student research, and life achievements such as stories of rising above adversity.1 Much of this semiotic work is accomplished by the ways that schools communicate about themselves to the world outside the school. This starts with their websites: not only is it hard to answer a website back but it is so there, so taken for granted, that it becomes real. What gets promoted must be believed, as we saw in the last chapter in the discussion of academic goals. All this is reinforced by the ways in which decisions are made and channeled (‘communicated’) to non-decision makers. At the College, decisions involving major expenditures, shifts in college policy, and the college’s presentation of self are made by the president, the trustees, and eight senior staff linked to the trustees and the school’s seven major divisions, only two of which are concerned with students and faculty. Anything students or faculty have to say to any of these parties passes through carefully monitored channels, which reserve the privilege of not responding.2 Retrofitting markedness into the college by admitting larger numbers of students of color, so that unmarked students can take for granted their own situations while marked students must figure out how to fit in, is explored in a senior project (Fouché 2019) on the ways in which the experiences of students of color are marketed. They are marketed to prospective students of color, basically selling the idea that this education is a worthwhile investment. They also figure into the school’s presentation, in its market niche, of itself as progressive like

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its peers. Fouché shows the routines of semiotic regimentation through which Admissions manages communication (online and in person) to prospective students, including those of color, effected by training and monitoring student interns and guides. In her interviews with diversity administrators, and using Goffman’s (1959) notions of ‘frontstage’ and ‘backstage,’ Fouché describes the contrast of their ‘frontstage’ performance—being in charge and leading institutional change on behalf of students of color—and their long hours of under-resourced ‘backstage’ work along with their appeals to those commanding institutional resources and authority for investment in structural change. If readers compare this to my interviews in Chapter 3 with people in the same positions, they will see little change in nearly twenty years. And like the students I interviewed years, even decades, earlier, those interviewed by Fouché in 2018–19 described a much more constrained social life than that available to unmarked students, spending much of their non-academic time in campus jobs that are part of their financial aid package, or engaged in ‘productive’ organizational activities that reflect well on the college. Like the students we met in Chapter 4, Fouché’s informants describe being objectified and exoticized. They must manage expectations that white middle-class classmates either take in their stride or never have to encounter, such as students on financial aid being asked by the OIA to write ‘thank you’ notes to alumni for their support, like those Lee (2016) described at Linden College. The same conditions that make life so restrictive for these students of color (that they are expected to fit into white spaces) also frame their marketability as Diverse Good Students (doing well at the things white students do well), conditions that have changed little since this fieldwork started. That, along with the continuing frustrations faced by administrators of color, point to the enduring separation of OIA and Admissions from the inward-facing administrative offices, a separation that manifests itself in a perceptible, if unacknowledged, distinction in what does or does not count as important knowledge and decision-making. That division has a long history, originating, as we saw in Chapter 1, in the establishment of governing boards in the colonial college era, boards that by the twentieth century had become firmly business oriented. Relations between institutional trustees, presidents, and offices of development, communication, and eventually ‘advancement’ became increasingly tight following the institutional expansions of the 1960s, and then, as we saw in Chapter 2, the neoliberal marketing of higher education starting by 1990. As schools became focused on sustaining their market positions, on the cultivation of students and

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their families as ‘customers,’ on the image presented to donors, and on branding, the influence of external governing bodies has become ever more tightly intertwined with corporate interests. This is where all major decisions are made, guided by the assumptions, register features, and ways of seeing and understanding explored in Chapter 2. This long-established pattern governs the process of competitive ranking, which most higher education institutions pursue. In her study of the Challenger shuttle launch failure, Vaughan (1996, 1999) develops the idea of structural secrecy: “the way division of labor, hierarchy, and specialization segregate knowledge about tasks and goals” (Vaughan 1999: 277). Each of these segregated patterns of institutional practices, decisions, and what constitutes pertinent knowledge makes sense to those immediately involved. But each is also likely to accumulate changes that over time make patterns mutually incongruent. To put it in the terms used throughout this book, what become segregated and incongruent are metasemiotic regimes. This incongruence is reinforced by a sense of what works best for the interests of that sector, and even more by hierarchy. This can lead to reliance on experts who share patterns of understanding and decision-making with those who hire them, and to discounting faculty understanding without acknowledging that discounting. In the same way, the understandings and actions shared by presidents, trustees and senior staff become incongruent with and discount the understandings and actions of mid-level administrators, especially those in Student Life. Especially pertinent is another point made by Vaughan: those involved in the highest levels of decision-making prefer the information shaping those decisions to be as unambiguous as possible. Those whose job it is to present a favorable view of the institution to external stakeholders rely on the idea of clearcut outcomes, which may crowd out the perspectives of those whose job it is to oversee people living and working on campus. So, students and faculty become numbers and achievements and other representations that can be counted and compared without ambiguity. That is the metasemiotic regime in which consequential decisions about institutions are made, by expert consultants who get results by maintaining or enhancing the school’s position in the rankings. But the perspective of anyone ‘below’ that level is lost. The routine problems faced by socially marked students go unheard beyond the Student Life personnel who occupy positions of little influence, or by faculty who can do little about it. The routine problems faced by socially marked faculty may not be heard at all. One may point out the vast difference between a shuttle launch failure and a school whose otherwise successful marketing is

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contradicted by the frustrations of socially marked students and faculty. But there are structural parallels leading to courses of action that are not good for NASA or for schools, particularly as both are pushed along by the need for ‘outcomes’ that drive the decision-making processes and policies. It may not lead to disaster for the institution, but it enhances neither educational process nor residential experience. We have seen this ‘structural secrecy,’ this segregation of metasemiotic regimes, throughout this book. Drawing from his experience as CDO, Professor Drake described how the school was understood and interpreted according to senior staff ‘fiefdoms,’ with the uppermost authority not delegated but held in relatively few places. In such a structure, a diversity position was basically a plug-in: They were very conscious of trying to shut down anything that might not show well for the trustees or for students who might be averse to anything that smacked of diversity … they do it all in this sort of generic way, as if the college remains a white college. That’s the really difficult thing about it for students of color—their concerns are shut down at the highest level. Particularly in the Student Life area, it is really appalling.

He was struck by how much his input was ignored, such as when the president dismissed the diversity plan he had been asked to formulate, including his recommendation that a non-discrimination policy be put in place to address institutional liability in case of a lawsuit. He was especially struck by the assumption that “one doesn’t need to consult the faculty. One consults the faculty in many cases as an end-around, let’s do it now and say we’ve done it, [that] kind of thing, when the decision has already been made.” In his three years, he saw more shifts in understanding among trustees as to what diversity initiatives could do for the college than among the president and senior staff. This top-level non-acknowledgment of the need for a systematically grounded understanding of what it means to be marked, and the need for institutional policies addressing what would make the institutional place of marked people more viable, creates a vacuum filled by initiatives developed among various campus sources, or imposed from without. These are variably effective. Some are helpful to students and faculty, some are useless, and some are downright harmful, depending on the degree to which they interfere with students and faculty being able to focus on their lives and work. Some faculty combine academic work and activism. This can work so long as student academic needs come first. It stops working when student institutional roles get defined

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by faculty interests, a problem not exclusive to concerns with race and gender as it ranges across political stances. It stops working when students feel pressured to take on a role that displaces their role as a student. It stops working when students are encouraged to be on too many committees and to attend too many off-campus meetings while their coursework takes a back seat. It stops working when ‘training’ for ‘leadership’ and ‘changemaking’ is valued over academic performance. Unlike OP, Posse (as I heard from multiple faculty sources) too often selects students who are underprepared for the academic requirements of the College without offering resources to help them. Posse does not even want students to see faculty mentors as faculty, as LaDousa (2019) shows in his analysis of the Posse handbook. He points out that there is no mechanism to make sure anyone actually follows the handbook and that its primary purpose appears to be to show how being a mentor, as part of the Posse brand, is distinct from being a teacher. What, exactly, it means to be a mentor is left underspecified, which may be a problem for the faculty member, but apparently not for Posse. Posse’s investment is to create an image of a student who is not a regular student but a special Posse-brand student, which means not having a regular professor but a Posse-brand mentor. This structural vacuum leaves too many marked students, especially students of color, in a position where their performance as students is less important than the roles they are urged to perform in other writers’ scripts. This certainly happens with unmarked students; the website is full of not-always-welcome OIA appropriation and curation of white middle-class Good Student images. But overall, unmarked (or, at least, less marked) students are not systematically interpellated to represent how well the institution handles markedness and financial need. Some readers may want to know what solutions I suggest. I am not good at solutions, but I will suggest a couple of principles to consider: (1) institutional policy should not only target those who are diverse; and (2) institutions should consider how deeply neoliberalized they have become. The first principle is that good policy cannot target only those who are ‘diverse.’ Rather than outsource the ‘fix’ or leave it to individual faculty to do what they think best, policy should be based on an understanding of how the whole institution works, and how markedness operates as a general principle of social life within and outside that institution. Markedness is not just classification but a relation to the whole. Figuring out how this works at any one institution would require input from many sources and would take considerable work, with false starts

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and arguments, and trial and error. There might even be some practical semiotics in the mix. It would also consider what students need to do to be students, without worrying about additional outcomes that make the institution look good. Nor can it be one size fits all. Category labels are at best a shorthand. How students work out being ‘Black’ or ‘Asian’ or ‘Latino/a/x’ in college coexist with more specific ways of seeing themselves as they grew up—identities that do not go away in college. This also goes for sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBTQ is a shorthand; it is not the same for everyone who so identifies. And what goes for students goes for faculty. More important than the label is the experience of being marked, and the structural elements driving that. Any policy that starts by genericizing identity labels starts from the wrong place. Those making policy might well be suspicious of carefully curated presentations of racial difference meant to signify diversity, and thus might always be ready to ask and talk about what such imagery leaves out of consideration, especially the intersections of class, gender, sexuality, and ability that make finding one’s course and building relations of trust in a new place so problematic. In thinking about such policy, one might consider how and why students recast their cultural identity, as we saw in Chapter 4, rather than treating it as a ‘photo op’. One might consider the ways that ‘diverse’ and ‘Black’ and ‘Latino/a/x’ and ‘Asian’ and ‘LGBTQ’ and ‘women’ are ways of being that students put a lot of work into rethinking in their years of college. The ‘culture’ they create for themselves in college is real. It is not what they experienced before college—but no one’s is. Culture is a process, fluid and non-uniform. Nor is it what they provide to the school, as there is no such thing as an acultural institution to which students ‘bring diversity.’ What gets put on the website is cherry-picked from what students do. What students do for themselves is real: they work out, with each other, new ways of being how they are classified. So, formulating student life policy might consider what kind of work students put into that cultural creation, how they create an identity specific to their college experience, how they connect their life growing up to their life at the college as meaningful and continuous but not quite the same. Such policy might also consider the difference between whiteness at an elite college and whiteness in a working-class city or town. In other words, such a policy might consider conditions generating the social complexities masked by neoliberalized diversity. A school might also consider not only the demographic categories that faculty represent but what living those categories means in terms of living where the school is, and doing one’s job at the school. New

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faculty need people they can trust to listen to them thoughtfully and put together what they are hearing so that at least patterns of what is or may be problematic get recognized. Many faculty of color whom I have known, including but not only those heard from in Chapter 6, have often found unexpected minefields in navigating collegial and administrative relations, in teaching, and simply in living and conducting daily life in the area. This happens more to women than men, and even more to junior women. My interviewees rarely spoke directly about specific incidents, but I have heard some unsettling accounts over the years. Student Life administrators, especially those of color, also need to be heard from, because they oversee campus life conditions for marked students and get even less support than faculty. They face minefields in the form of promises and plans made by higher level administrators, often poorly made, which they are then supposed to implement without sufficient resources. And it is not likely that their lives at the institution are any easier than those of faculty. The second principle that institutions should keep in mind is how deeply neoliberalized higher education has become, and the constraints that that imposes on higher learning. Sending messages to faculty and students that their primary value is to build numbers and bring their markedness, and that each incoming class is ‘better’ in that regard, is certainly not a great way to ‘diversify’ a school. But more generally, neoliberalism is not good for anyone. In Blum’s (2016) account of what makes the college academic experience frustrating for so many students, one major roadblock to engaged learning is the competitive ranking of students against each other based on graded work, which heavily undercuts their chances of getting what they should get out of the learning process, or of claiming it for themselves. That notion of individuals in constant competition, with each other and with themselves, is a central neoliberal tenet, especially preying on students who feel pressured to internalize institutional values. Not all students do. Some can enjoy their classes without beating themselves up when they do not always score high grades. Many such students build up to doing very good work by their senior year, as I have often seen, and can even have ‘fun’ along the way. They will probably get the most out of college. They are also more likely to not have been recruited into college with the idea that they would have to compete every minute, which means they are more likely to be unmarked. Marked students, especially those of color and/or (especially and) from working-class backgrounds, are much more under the gun of competition, continually interpellated to show self-improvement.

Conclusion  ♦ 273

One of the saddest ‘outcomes’ of neoliberalism is its effect on students with a lot of fragilities that then become classified as mental health problems. The very process of moving from adolescence into adulthood is fraught for most people, and for many reasons. I have no room to get into it here, but whatever fragilities one might experience are terribly exacerbated by the message of constant competition. As I have heard from several students, hyper-competitiveness combined with emphasis on mental health services can send students the message that using such services adds one more thing to their to-do list: the school provides the service, and it is up to the neoliberal agent to use it. Again, this gets institutions off the hook, while hyper-generating the conditions that trigger or exacerbate students’ need for such help. Maybe the fragilities that many students have would not reach a breaking point if they were not being constantly pitched against each other, as part of the institutional ethos of internal competition, of numbers battles between institutions, of each class being told that the class after them is the ‘best ever’ as measured by class ranking, college test scores, and of course diversity numbers, all in the service of brand-building. Neoliberalism is not good for people in institutions. It is not good for institutions themselves, either. And it is a terrible way to retrofit an institution for equity and inclusion. As Greenhouse (2010: 3) put it, “neoliberal reform reshapes the relationship between society and the state without eliminating what came before,” including perduring social inequalities, “in its valorization of the individual [and] its preference for markets over rights as the basis for social reform.” Finally, I remind readers that throughout this book I am not pointing to people who are at fault. I am pointing to how institutions work—not just the one in this book but all higher education institutions. Higher education is part of a larger socioeconomic order. As in any socio-historical process, the forms that emerge at any given point develop in relation to an ecology (so to speak) of institutions, and the dynamics framing and powering that ecology. What exists now grew out of what existed before. Before any ‘problems’ can be ‘solved,’ all that needs to be clearly understood, as does the painfully obvious point that racism exists in higher education because it exists throughout contemporary life, as it has done for centuries. I would like to believe that there is some clear path through all this, but I doubt it. These processes are deeply embedded in a commodification of higher education that is itself nothing new. As Handler (2019) points out, it was first critiqued by Thorstein Veblen (1918) in 1904, when he saw corporatization and advertising built into the US

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private university system from its inception, with undergraduate education set up like a department store selling academic and non-academic goods, each department offering a point of competition. It is not terribly surprising that this has become the enduring model of higher education, with ‘diversity’ one more selling point, and one more point of comparison. In closing, I should mention that I write these words during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, when colleges and universities are undergoing terrible financial stress. I expect that at least some readers will think I am kicking the College, and higher education generally, while it is down. The problem is not the College per se. The problem is the neoliberalization of higher education. There is so much that is admirable about the College and about liberal arts education generally. I may not be certain exactly what liberal arts is ‘for,’ and I know it is a luxury, but it is a wonderful way to learn and teach and think about the world. I found the College a terrific place to teach, and I learned a lot teaching there, from students and colleagues and administrators and staff. But neoliberal ideologies and organizational practices have not done higher education much good, given how much pressure they put on schools to devote large portions of their budgets to market-related expenditure. Facing a challenge like a pandemic might be a chance to rethink the spirals of spending that, at best, keep colleges and universities running in place. Neoliberal models of markedness do little more than tweak the status quo. They have no effect on systemic racism. It really is time for all higher education institutions, and for that matter all companies and organizations, to think about what they are and where they stand.

Notes   1. Such exceptions can even include, if I might take a skeptical look at what I have been seeing lately (I write this in 2020), institutional declarations of racial consciousness.   2. For example, over the course of my research I reached out to multiple OIA people and got one response. The student who did the senior project about to be cited reached out to Admissions, complied with their request to submit a thesis statement and sample interview questions, and then received no further response.

References rrr

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Index rrr

Abbott, Andrew, 49, 50, 226, 234 academic disciplines, 48–50, 60–62, 64, 66, 225–29, 236, 241, 247–250, 260–61; establishing new programs, 243–45, 248–49; and professions, 49–50, 226; ties outside institution, 227 acultural institutions, 147, 160, 178, 190, 271 Adams, Henry, 53, 69 addressivity, 27–28, 72–73, 235, 263n4 administrators of color, 10, 108n18, 109n23, 118, 123, 129, 267, 272 admissions: director, 10, 88, 100, 104, 109n23, 119, 172; and diversity, 21, 27, 79, 99, 126, 138, 148, 188, 211, 213, 260, 265, 267; facing outward, 2, 8, 28, 72–73, 222; history of, 51, 54–56, 58; office of, 2, 7–8, 13, 28, 129–30, 136, 226, 231; process of, 24, 97, 99–102; tours 95–97; web Page, 93. See also multicultural recruitment, multicultural recruitment coordinators Affirmative Action, 18–20, 124, 189, 229, 236 African American courses, 241, 243, 258, 261 African American demographic category, 4, 9, 18, 22 African American identity, 125, 139, 148, 150, 154–57, 185, 241, 253, 254 Africana Studies Program, 241, 243, 246–47, 253–54 age (as aspect of diversity), 2, 20, 35n27, 225, 232, 243, 245, 265 Agha, Asif, 85, 235 Ahmed, Sara, 14, 67–68

alcohol (on campus), 31, 75, 78, 95, 110, 116, 180, 201–202 alumni, 8, 29–31, 58, 72, 80, 82, 85, 88, 92–93, 97–100, 192, 267; class notes, 24, 92, 97, 135; of color, 97–98, 188, 199, 218–21 Amherst College, 5–6, 54, 77 Anzaldúa, Gloria, 228, 265 Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, 79 Asian, Asian American demographic category, 4, 9, 18–19, 22, 100, 126, 186, 190n4, 231, 261, 265, 271 Asian, Asian American students, 10, 31, 96, 104–105, 125, 135, 137–38, 140, 157–58, 167, 170–71, 173–74, 176, 207, 210; identity, 31, 148, 150, 157–58, 167, 271; images of, 2, 4, 89 Asian Student organization (ASO), 22, 111, 118, 134–35, 137–38, 140, 205, 253 Asian Studies Program, 246, 248 assistant dean of students and multicultural affairs director, 91, 104–105, 110, 119, 129, 144n7, 172–73 associate dean for diversity and inclusion, 110, 134, 144n7 athletics, 31, 54, 56, 208–13, 257. See also sports audit culture, 13–14, 249 auto-ethnography, 11 backstage work (Goffman), 267 Bakhtin, Mikhail, 26, 28, 195, 235 Barrow, Clyde W., 51, 54 Bennett, William, 63–65 Berger, Peter, 29 Birdseye, Clarence, 53 Birdseye, Clarence F., 53, 70n8

288  ♦ Index black administrators, 108n18, 109n23, 118 black alumni, 98, 219–21 black and African American as identity terms, 154–57. See also African American identity Black and Latino house, 128, 131, 145n15, 188, 220 black colleges and universities, 37, 43, 70n5 black demographic category, 18–19, 100, 126, 173, 231, 265 black faculty, 108n18, 253, 261, 262n1 Black history. See African American courses black sororities, 199 black student identity, 139–40, 148–50, 154–57, 160–61, 167–69, 174–76, 185, 187, 241, 253, 254, 271; African American or black, 154–57 Black Student organization (BSO), 22, 111, 118, 125, 127, 134–35, 137–39, 141, 160–61, 171, 176, 180–82, 187, 205–206, 216, 253 black students, 1, 10, 31, 91, 96, 103–105, 108n18, 119, 123–25, 135, 138–39, 140, 147–49, 154–57, 159–61, 163, 165, 168–70, 170–71, 173–74, 176, 177, 188, 207, 209–10, 241, 243, 245, 253, 255; images of, 2, 4, 89, 195 Black studies programs, 62 Bledstein, Burt, 57, 193 Blindspot, 233, 237 Bloom, Allan, 63–65 Blum, Susan, 194, 272 Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo, 197 Borderlands, 228 Bourdieu, Pierre, 23, 29, 99, 191 Boyer, Ernest, 63–65 The Brand called U, 81, 90 branding: College, 3, 30, 73–76, 81–97, 266, 273; higher education, 5, 47, 68, 78–83, 84–87, 90; and institutional change, 78–79, 81; semiotics, 75–76, 81–95. See also lovemarking Brenneis, Donald, 18

Brown University, 42, 71n11, 224n8 Bush, Melanie E. L., 197 Bush, Vannevar, 62 Butler, Nicholas Murray, 54–55, 70 capital: cultural, 23, 29, 30, 37, 73, 135, 147, 192, 229; human, 23, 73, 264n12; social, 23–24, 29, 31, 37, 53, 58, 69–70, 135, 140, 191–92; symbolic, 23–24, 29, 31, 37, 53, 56, 58, 69, 73, 79, 99, 135, 143–44, 191–92, 265 Carnegie, Andrew, 50, 70n8 Carnegie Corporation, 79 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 50, 58, 64 Carnegie Unit, 51, 55 Carr, E. Summerson, 234, 235 Chambliss, Daniel, 111, 114, 194, 208 Chang, Gordon C., 79–80 changemaker (student), 21, 24, 69, 103, 118, 121, 133, 135, 138, 140–41, 189, 270 Chase, Susan E., 147, 197 Chicago, University of, 48, 64, 224n8 Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), 10, 128–34, 144n10, 189, 269; history of position 229–31, 252 chronotope, 26, 29, 72, 195, 223nn1–2 citationality, 86 Clark University, 48 class (socio-economic), 12–13, 17, 20, 23, 25–26, 29, 244; as course content, 226, 241, 243, 248, 254, 261; and diversity, 2, 22, 229, 244, 259–60, 265–66, 270–71; emerging middle class, 53–57; experience of working-class students, 9, 11, 117, 135–36, 146–47, 149, 160–61, 241, 244, 245, 259, 267, 272; and faculty, 239, 246, 257–58; images of, 39, 89, 94, 98, 146–47, 215, 218, 244, 245; middle, upper class students, 99–100, 117, 132, 141, 186, 191–92, 244, 261, 267; program for working-class women, 244–46; reproduction

Index  ♦ 289 through education, 3, 23, 39, 57, 99; as social markedness, 12–13; and sports, 208–209, 211–13, 257; transformation, 23, 41 coaches: basketball, 211, 212, 257–58; football, 211, 257–58; golf, 211–13, 257–58 Collective, 146, 180, 187, 220, 247 College: divisions, 2, 7–8, 11, 30, 130, 220, 267; inward, internal facing, 2, 8, 30, 267; outward, external facing, 2, 8, 30, 220; website, 3–7, 10, 22, 27, 30, 73–76, 79, 86–87, 89, 93–95, 107n3, 107n11, 108n17, 124, 126, 146, 148, 153, 188–89, 249–50, 270–71 college branding. See under branding college bubble, 222 College diversity center, 126–27, 130–32, 134, 188, 190n8; director, 130–31 College Entrance Examination Board, 55 college marketing. See marketing higher education College president, 8, 11, 32, 67–68, 78–80, 88, 104, 108n18, 109n23, 117–19, 129, 131, 172, 188, 227, 229, 230–31, 244, 252, 259, 266, 269 College program for working class women, 244–46 colonial colleges, 3, 37, 41–43, 70n3 Colonial Williamsburg, 83–84 color-blindness as race ideology, 197, 223n4 Columbia University, 42, 47, 54–56, 70, 71n11, 192 commensurability, 22, 50, 83 commensuration, 23, 40, 51, 70n2, 89 commodification: and branding, 85–86; of culture, 138; of higher education, 76, 80, 273; of race and gender, 14 community: college as, 4–7, 93, 95, 99, 103, 110, 119, 123, 146–47, 185, 191; critical perspectives on, 119, 123–24, 125, 127, 131–33, 141,

149, 185, 187, 221; diverse, 2, 4, 5, 6, 22, 72, 78, 89–91, 93, 103, 111, 127, 131–33, 134, 223n4, 260–61; educating, 22, 31, 135, 178, 180; global, 90–91; and private societies, 201–202, 208; queer, 159; and race, 165, 171, 176, 221; residential life model of, 112–17, 193–94; rhetoric of, 72, 193–94; service, 126, 138, 204, 221, 246; student, 30, 56, 142, 160–61 comparison group, comparison schools, 4, 5, 8, 11, 14, 22, 32, 42, 77, 100, 107n8, 231, 243. See also peer institutions competition: among colleges, 80, 82, 213, 265, 268; among students as neoliberal strategy 272–73 construct, construction: diversity, 11, 24–29; Good Student, 3, 73–76, 93–94, 106; race, 16–20 control of College spaces, 131, 188 Cooke, Morris, 49–51 Cornell University, 47, 71n11 Cororaton, Claire, 68 corporate values in higher education, 2–3, 37–40, 50–51, 53–55, 58, 66–67, 76, 78–81, 122, 268; and diversity, 2, 12–13, 15, 18, 20–21, 27–28, 67–68, 95, 111, 232, 238–39, 261; and language, 11, 21, 27–28, 66–67. See also neoliberalism corporations and higher education, 30, 46, 50, 53–56, 58 Crane, Richard T., 54, 70n8 critical thinking, 38, 123 cultural diversity: academic goal, 246–51; institutional usage, 146, 160, 210 cultural organizations, 9, 22, 30–31, 96, 118, 125, 131, 134, 136, 138, 140–42, 144, 145n14 culture: anthropological concept of, 197, 228, 250, 271; general concepts of, 62–64, 68, 91, 134– 36, 147 215, 250–51; institutions as acultural, 147, 159–60, 178,

290  ♦ Index 190; students ‘bring’ (provide) culture, 22, 31, 134–35, 138, 140, 147, 149, 178, 180, 189–90, 271; students invent own culture, 31, 57, 113–14, 137, 140, 143, 146–82, 197, 271; workplace culture, 232, 238 curriculum. See liberal arts curriculum Dartmouth College, 42, 71n11 Dávila, Arlene, 62, 63, 67, 261 Davis, Dana-Ain, 21 dean of faculty: actions of, 128, 172, 227, 229, 230, 231, 249, 260; associate, 229–31; office of, 2, 7–8, 27, 28, 129–30, 225, 231, 234 dean of students: actions of 105, 130, 131, 183, 188; office of, 2, 7–8, 28, 30, 110, 123, 126–27, 129, 134, 144n10, 145n11, 231. See also student life administration deixis, 33n16, 35n34. See also indexicality, shifters demographics: development of categories, 18–19; use by colleges, 4, 9–10, 18, 21–22, 31, 47, 76–77, 89–91, 102, 104, 113, 121, 139, 180, 212, 222, 260, 271 denotation, 14, 26, 59, 144n6, 251 Dick, Hilary Parsons, 16, 197 disability: administrative office, 123, 126–27, 144n8; course content, 243; diversity category, 127 discourse, 15–16, 25–26, 72; diversity, 18, 27–28, 131; ethnicizing, 17–18; racializing, 16. See also register Disney World, 83–84 diversity: administrators, 10, 14, 27, 68, 229–31, 267; corporate, 12–13, 15, 18, 20–21, 27–28, 66; corporate trainers, 15, 20, 27–28, 232–33; countable, 4, 8, 22, 32, 90, 188–89, 212, 231, 273; diversity curriculum, 243, 246–49, 252; expert consultants, 231–40; faculty perspectives, 240–46, 251–60; and globalization, 68,

260–61; imagery, 3–5, 8, 89, 188; improvement, 4–5, 32, 233; and institutional function, 259–60, 265; institutional statements on, 4–7, 67; marketing, 2–5, 9, 78–79, 89–95; and multiculturalism, 10, 14–15, 18, 20, 59, 66–67, 126, 148–49, 160, 185, 238–39; 260; neoliberal, 2–4, 11, 12–15, 18, 20–21, 24, 27–30, 32, 37, 67, 69, 89–91, 95, 106, 231–40, 262, 265–66, 271; orientation speaker, 112–13; programming by diversity center, 127–33; programming by student organizations, 22, 134, 180–81; recruitment, 99–105 (see also multicultural recruitment); retrofitting, 100, 259, 262, 266, 273; shifting meaning of, 2, 26–28, 124–25, 225–29, 29, 247–49; skill, 37–39, 65–69; and sports, 210–213, 257–258; tour guide information about, 95–97; wheel (Loden), 20, 233–34 diversity and inclusion, 110, 126, 134, 144n7, 233 donors, 28, 58, 72, 79–80, 83, 97, 114, 130, 192, 220, 265, 268; corporate and organizational, 3, 8, 24, 30, 67, 72, 79, 114, 192 Du Bois, W.E.B., 33n18, 206, 223 Durkheim, Emile, 29 educating the community. See under community Eldridge, Seba, 61 Eliot, Charles William, 46–48 Enlightenment, 29, 39, 43–44, 46, 48, 58 ethnicization, 17 ethnolinguistic recognition, 33n17, 147 excellence, discourse of, 27, 66–67, 80–81, 239 expert discourse, 27, 66, 234–36 expert knowledge, 31, 49–50, 80, 103–104, 225–26 experts, 27, 31, 40–41, 47–49, 58, 196, 231–32, 234–38, 251, 262, 268

Index  ♦ 291 faculty: discussion of diversity goals, 246–51; institutional position, 225–29; meeting, 249–51; recruited for diversity, 231–40; research, 74, 225, 227–29, 234, 258, 263n11; teaching about diversity, 240–46; teaching about race, 225–26, 240–46 faculty of color: institutional concerns, 251–56; teaching concerns, 240–43 fast facts (web page), 4, 18, 84, 126, 182; diversity facts, 90 Feagin, Joe, 147 Fieldhouse, Jane, 195 figured world, 195–98, 214, 222 financial aid, 4, 9, 96, 101–102, 118–19, 126, 161–62, 182, 211, 267 first year: course, 243–44, 248–49; experience, 93, 114; program, 110, 113–14 Firstness, 75–76, 107n4 Fjellman, Stephen, 83–84 football: coach, 211, 257–58; and Opportunity Program, 102; players, 187, 208–13 footing (Goffman), 198 Foster, Robert, 92 Fouché, Marie, 266–67 fraternities at the College, 23, 29, 31, 54–58, 69–70, 71n9, 78, 98, 107n9, 115, 128, 134–36, 166, 175, 192–93, 198–200, 202, 204, 207–10, 214, 216–18, 257; early history, 56–57. See also Greek letter societies, Latino fraternities, private societies frontstage work (Goffman), 178, 267 Gable, Eric, 84, 97 Gal, Susan, 28 García, Ofelia, 265 Gates, Henry Louis Jr. (Skip), 108n18 gender: as course content, 31, 153, 226, 241, 243, 248–49, 254; demographic category, 4, 19; and diversity, 2, 12, 12, 15, 20, 22, 232, 259, 261, 265; in faculty hiring, 236; in faculty research,

225; as social condition, 25, 26, 62–63, 239, 244–46, 258, 262; as social markedness, 12–13; in student life, 31, 147, 175, 189, 195, 214–15, 222, 270–71 gender identity, 189, 265, 271 Gershon, Ilana, 12, 21, 94, 147 G.I. Bill. See Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 Giddens, Anthony, 39–40 Goffman, Erving, 178, 222, 267 Goldberg, David Theo, 62, 66 golf coach, 211–13, 257–58 Good Student, 3–4, 7–8, 30, 73–75, 87, 89, 93, 95, 99, 103, 106, 121, 140, 194, 270; Diverse Good Student, 4, 7–8, 27, 30, 89, 95, 106, 267; Good Student narratives, 93–95 Gordon, Avery, 18, 62 Gordon, Elizabeth, 195–96 Greek letter societies, 145n11, 180, 194, 201, 203–208, 214. See also fraternities, private societies, sororities Greenhouse, Carol, 13, 273 Guillory, John, 65, 228 habitus, 29; class habitus, 166, 197, 245; cleft habitus, 191 Hamilton College, 47, 70n4 Hampton Institute, 43 Handler, Richard, 68, 84, 97, 178, 261, 273 Harper, William Rainey, 48 Harvard University, 42, 46–48, 53, 55–56, 69, 71n11, 104, 205 Hersh, Richard, 66 higher education branding. See under branding higher education institutions in US, emergence of: liberal arts colleges, 41–46; universities, 46–53 Hill, Jane, 37 Hirsch, E.D., 63, 65 Hispanic demographic category, 4, 9, 18–19, 100, 231, 265. See also Latino/a/x demographic category

292  ♦ Index Hispanic identity, 137, 148–55, 158, 179 Hispanic students, 22, 100, 102, 162–63 Holland, Dorothy, 26, 195 Hook, Sidney, 60–61 Horowitz, Helen Lefkowitz, 193–94 Howard University, 43, 124 humanities, 3, 38, 48, 61–65 Hurst, Allison, 147 Hyatt, Susan Brin, 13 imagery: of Asian/Asian American students, 2, 4, 89; of black students, 2, 4, 89; of class, 89, 94, 98, 245; the College, 4–7, 14, 22, 30, 72–95, 192, 210, 220–21, 243–44, 257, 268, 270; of college life generally, 57–58, 146, 222; of diversity, 3–5, 8–9, 14, 27, 89–95, 162, 188, 251, 257, 261, 266, 271; of Latino/a/x students, 2, 4, 89, 98 imaginaries, 16, 33n13, 37–38 Imani, Nikitah, 147 Implicit Association Test (IAT), 233, 237 implicit bias, 233–34, 237 indexicality: index, 15, 35n28, 35n34 (see also shifters); indexical, 25–27, 66, 74–76, 85, 87, 99, 107n4, 166, 194, 196–98, 214, 216, 218, 235–37, 239, 250, 263n4, 265–66; indexical creativity (performative), 25, 86, 196; second order indexicality, 235; source identifying indexicals, 75, 87, 89, 108n16 inequality, 1, 3, 15, 17–18, 62, 91, 146–47, 160, 188–90, 191, 219, 240, 244, 246–48, 250, 261, 265–66, 273 institutional transformation, 11, 78, 90 International Student Organization (ISO), 31, 134–35, 141–42, 150, 182 international students, 4, 10, 22, 31, 110–11, 125–27, 134, 140–41,

144n7, 168, 182–87, 189, 191, 260; perceptions of college, 182–87 interpellation, 21, 30, 68, 95, 112–13, 121–23, 135–36, 139–41, 143–44, 145n13, 146, 172, 189, 197, 270, 272 interpretant, 35n28, 75, 84, 107n4 intersectionality, 10, 12, 234, 243, 245 Irvine, Judith T., 28 Ivy League, 58, 71n11, 82 Jack, Anthony Abraham, 147 Jakobson, Roman, 25 James, William, 47, 50 Johns Hopkins University, 48 Journal of Higher Education, 59 Keane, Webb, 86, 87 Khan, Shamus, 192 Kirp, David, 80 Kramer, Rory, 191 LaDousa, Chaise, 72, 147, 196–97, 213, 215, 218, 222, 235, 270 language. See discourse, register Latin American studies programs, 63, 246, 247–48 Latino/a administrators, 128 Latino/a alumni, 98, 219 Latino/a/x demographic category, 4, 18–19, 22, 100, 126, 157, 173, 265 Latino/a faculty, 98, 151, 153, 157, 241–42, 251–52, 261, 262n1, 264n14 Latino fraternities, 198–99, 207 Latina sororities, 198–99 Latino/a/x student identity, 9–10, 148– 55, 171, 174–75, 177, 180, 271; and Hispanic, 148–55; learning to be Latino/a, 150–153, 174–75, 177–78; shift to Latinx, 145n12, 148, 153 Latino/a/x student organization (LSO), 9, 31, 111, 118, 125, 127, 134–39, 141, 148, 151, 153, 160, 175–78, 180, 205–207, 216, 252–53 Latino/a/x students, 10, 31, 91, 104, 105, 111, 125, 135–37, 139,

Index  ♦ 293 140–41, 149–53, 158, 161–67, 170, 173–77, 180–81, 188, 241–42, 255 (see also Hispanic students); images of, 2, 4, 89, 98 Latino studies programs, 62–63, 67 leadership: and branding, 82–83, 92, 107n3; and diversity, 21, 94, 101, 112, 118, 135, 170, 189, 197, 233, 255; and globalism, 97; institutional value, 24, 42, 54–56, 67, 69–70, 79, 99, 103, 115, 192, 221; neoliberal value, 27–28, 66–67, 141, 143, 270; Posse, 21, 118, 121, 133, 135, 170–73, 190n7; as soft skill, 23, 38, 141, 171, 232, 238, 261; in student organizations, 94, 98, 110, 112–13, 115, 126, 128, 134, 136, 138–41, 168, 184, 201, 203 Lee, Elizabeth, 11, 146–47, 185, 191, 267 Lempert, Michael, 72 Leong, Nancy, 32 LGBTQ: as identity, 158–61; institutional representation issues, 111–12, 126, 189; and neoliberal diversity, 111, 239–40; students, 10, 31, 101, 111, 126, 134, 141–43, 158–61, 189, 190n14, 271 LGBTQ student organization, 126, 131– 32, 135, 141–43, 150, 158, 253 liberal arts colleges, 3–11, 24, 29, 30, 37–71; and the corporate world, 53–56; and elite skills, 27, 37–39, 65–68, 73; emergence of, 40–46; as enlightenment project, 39; marketing, 3–4, 38, 73–98 liberal arts curriculum: broad vs practical, 44, 53–54; changes in, 42–44, 58, 59–62, 62–65; core vs. electives, 44, 46–47, 59–62, 62–65; general education, 52; goal of, 37–38, 42–46, 46–49, 53–55, 58–68, 249–51; indeterminate nature of, 37–38; multicultural, non-canonic, 62–65; as skill set, 38–39, 65–68; as social identity,

53; student resistance to, 56; and Western Civilization, 62–65 Loden, Marilyn, 20, 27–28, 232–33 lovemarking, 91–95. See also branding Low, Seth, 55 Lowell, Abbott Lawrence, 56 Lucas, Christopher, 42–45 Luce Foundation, 79 Luckmann, Thomas, 29 Manning, Paul, 85–86 marked and unmarked student experience: marked, 30–31, 97, 99, 106, 111–12, 117, 132, 135, 143–44, 147–49, 167, 172, 175–79, 182–87, 189–90, 191, 205–206, 218–19; unmarked, 100, 102, 111–12, 117, 135, 143–44, 147–48, 172, 186, 189–90, 191–93, 197–98, 213–18, 222–23. See also modal case markedness: general definition, 12, 33n12; and neoliberalism, 12–16; 21–24, 27, 30, 32; and race, ethnicity, diversity, 16–20, 24; social markedness defined, 12–13 markedness at the College: as course content, 226, 228, 240–44; faculty experience of, 240, 252–56, 261–62; maintenance of markedness relations, 265–74; recrafted in marketing, 72, 89, 94–95; recrafted by students as culture, 22, 31, 140–41, 174–82; unmarked student responses in class, 241–43; what faculty call it, 249–51 marketing higher education, 1–3, 5, 8–9, 11, 13–14, 26–27, 30–31, 68, 72–97, 106, 189, 191, 219, 231, 244, 246, 250, 259–62, 265–68; critical comments, 124, 127, 210, 244; marketing language, 72, 78–79, 85–86. See also branding, liberal arts colleges Marx, Karl, 29; Marxian, 23 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 46, 50

294  ♦ Index McCosh, James, 47 Mellon Foundation, 79 Mena, Mike, 265 metaculture, 28, 57, 196, 213–14, 218 metadiscourse, 113 metanarrative, 84–85, 189 metapragmatic discussion, 273n11 metasemantic discussion, 249–51 metasemiotic regimentation, 35n32, 84, 89, 94, 268–69 metasemiotics, 26, 28, 67, 76, 83–85, 87, 89, 94, 197, 268–69 micro-aggression, 24, 128, 146, 187, 189, 220 Middlebury College, 5–7 Middle States Association, 55 Mirick, Nicholas, 192 mission statements, 7, 22, 67, 121, 134–35, 180, 202 modal case, 99–100 modernity, 39–41, 44, 46–52, 56, 58, 61, 147, 178, 190 Moffatt, Michael, 193–94 Mohanty, Chandra Talpade, 14, 32 Moore, Robert, 75, 86–87 Morehouse College, 43 Morrill Act(s), 46, 48, 70nn5–6 Morrish, Liz, 111 Morse, Robert J., 77 Mullings, Leith, 16 multicultural affairs director. See assistant dean of students and multicultural affairs director multicultural alumni, 97, 219 multicultural center, 128 multicultural curriculum, 30, 38, 59, 62–65 multicultural faculty, 238 multicultural recruitment, 100–106, 118–20, 123, 161, 172, 203, 220. See also under diversity multicultural recruitment coordinators, 100, 123–24 multicultural reunion, 219 multicultural skills, 68 multicultural sororities, 198–99, 206–207

multicultural student organizations, 9, 125, 142. See also cultural organizations Multicultural Weekend, 9, 101, 105, 161 multiculturalism, 1, 9–10, 14, 18, 20, 22, 62, 101, 125–26, 148–50, 159–60; and diversity, 10, 14–15, 18, 20, 59, 66–67, 126, 148–49, 160, 185, 238–39, 260; history of term, 18, 62; managed vs critical, 66. See also diversity Nakassis, Constantine, 86 Nathan, Rebekah, 193–95 neoliberal agency, 12–13, 21, 94, 111, 143, 273 neoliberal discourse, 6, 27–28, 66–67, 238 neoliberal diversity, 2–4, 11, 12–15, 18, 20–21, 24, 27–30, 32, 37, 67, 69, 89–91, 95, 106, 231–40, 262, 265–66, 271; and globalization, 67–68, 90, 178. See also under Posse program neoliberal interpellation, 112, 141 neoliberal values, 3, 21, 27, 59 neoliberalism, 12–14, 33n13; from the corporate world, 11–13, 15, 18, 20–21, 27–28, 30, 38–39, 65–67; in higher education, 13, 24, 30, 37–39, 65–67, 69, 73, 81, 121, 249, 262, 270–74; in hiring workshops, 238; and racism, 21, 265 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), 5, 32n2, 205 Newfield, Christopher, 18, 62 numbers, use of by college: alumni of color, 97–98; faculty, 8, 32, 225, 231, 233–34, 236–37, 256, 260–61, 268, 272; students, 1, 3–5, 8, 22, 72, 79, 96, 100, 103–104, 113, 119, 121, 124, 134, 148–49, 159, 188– 89, 220, 244, 257, 260, 266, 268, 272–73. See also demographics Office of Institutional Advancement (OIA), 7–8, 10, 13, 27–28, 30–31,

Index  ♦ 295 39, 72–73, 76, 78–79, 84–86, 88–89, 91–94, 97–99, 106, 110–112, 123, 129–30, 132–33, 146, 185, 188, 192, 205, 213, 220, 222, 226, 231, 243–44, 246, 248, 250, 267, 270 O’Mara, Kathleen, 111 Office of Management and Budget (OMB), 18–19, 21, 28, 100, 185, 189, 262 Opportunity Program (OP), 10, 102; alumna, 219; directors, 103–105, 108n18, 108n23, 118–21, 132, 173; history, 103, 118; and Posse, 104, 111, 117–21, 132–33, 136, 138, 170–74, 177, 188, 190n7; provision of support, 118, 132, 133; recruitment, 102, 103, 111, 117; sports recruits, 102–103, 212, 257; students, 117–18, 136, 138, 161–65, 170–74, 175–77, 244, 255, 270; summer program, 117–18, 173; website 121–22 orientation, 110–14, 126, 149, 163–64, 168, 184–85, 194, 263n9 Osborn, J. R., 79–80 Parmentier, Richard, 84 peer institutions, peer schools, 5, 7, 11, 22, 32, 77–78, 100, 146, 213, 226, 231, 234, 259–60 Peirce, Charles Sanders, 75 Peircean semiotics, 35n28, 75–76, 86, 107n4 Pennsylvania, University of, 42, 71n11 performative. See under indexicality Peters, Tom, 81 Posse Foundation, 21, 103, 120–21 Posse program, 21, 118, 121, 162, 170; academic issues, 118, 133, 270; application, 21, 103; branding, 120, 252, 270; college partnership, 21, 103–104; as diversity providers, 100; faculty mentors, 21, 118, 120–21, 123, 136, 172, 270; history of, 102; liaisons, 120, 123, 128, 144n2; mission statement, 121; and neoliberal diversity 21, 103;

off-campus staff and trainers, 120, 122–23, 136, 144n2; and Opportunity Program, 104, 111, 117–21, 132–33, 136, 138, 170–74, 177, 188, 190n7; Posse Plus retreat, 21, 103, 118, 120, 122–23, 188, 238; selection for leadership and changemaking, 21, 103, 118; students, 21, 110–111, 117–18, 120– 23, 132–33, 135–36, 138, 162–63, 170–73, 177, 270; training, 21, 111, 117–18, 121–22, 133, 170, 172–73; website, 121 presentation of self (Goffman), 222 President’s Commission on Higher Education, 52, 61 primary, secondary schooling, 40–41 Princeton, 42, 46–47, 55, 71n11 Pritchett, Henry, 50 private societies, 10, 31, 64, 111, 134–35, 145n11, 192, 194, 196, 198–208, 213–18, 222, 223n6; administrative perspective, 115–16, 199, 201–202, 208; members’ perspective, 198–208; and racial markedness, 205–208; and sociality, 192, 194, 198–205, 213–18; and sports, 208. See also fraternities, Greek letter societies, sororities problem-solving as institutional goal, 6, 49–50, 58, 77, 90, 129, 133, 139–40, 221, 226–27, 229, 234, 236–37, 251–52, 261–62, 273 qualisign, 75–76 Questbridge, 100, 102 race: as course content, 225–26, 241–46, 248, 250; as demographic category, 9, 18–19, 22, 185–86, 190n4; and diversity, 1–2, 12–15, 20–21, 24, 90–91, 113, 126, 160, 232, 250; and ethnicity, 17–18; in faculty hiring, 230, 236; in faculty institutional experience, 252–56; in faculty research, 225–26, 228; as social condition, 16–17, 20, 24,

296  ♦ Index 29, 33n18, 34nn19–20, 39, 62–63, 94, 117; as social markedness, 12–13; in sports, 209–11; in student lives, 134–41, 146–58, 164–82, 187, 189, 191, 195, 197, 216–23 racialization, 16–17, 24, 33n18, 34n20, 153, 168–69, 177, 215, 217, 223n2, 242, 265–66; converse racialization, 35n25, 265 Rasmussen, Tina, 28 Readings, Bill, 66–67, 80, 239 register, 26–29, 35n33, 67, 150, 228–29, 235, 237–39, 268. See also discourse Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), 46 Resident Advisor (RA), 114–17, 126 residential life, 10, 79, 110, 115, 193 residential life, office of, 21, 115, 226 rheme, 75 Rhoades, Gary, 80 Roberts, Kevin, 91–92 Roe, Richard, 28 Rudolph, Frederick, 42–46, 56, 193 Rutgers University, 42, 47 scale, 13, 28 Schneider, David, 25 scientific management, 50 Seaman, Barrett, 195 Secondness, 75–76, 107n4 semantics, 250, 258 semiotics, 24–29, 33n12, 45, 67, 73–76, 83–97, 107n4, 146, 178, 197, 229, 239, 266–69, 271; semiotic mediation, 35n31. See also metasemiotics senior staff, 8, 78, 107n10, 128–31, 230–31, 252, 266, 268–69 service learning, 68 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (GI Bill), 17, 51 Sevier, Robert, 83, 85, 92 sexual orientation, 111, 126, 140, 159, 189, 190n14, 234, 239, 265, 271; as social markedness, 12

sexuality: and diversity, 2, 15, 20, 22, 160, 229, 232, 262; in faculty teaching and research, 225–26, 241; in student life, 141, 147, 159, 182, 271 Shear, Boone W., 13 shifters, 27, 33n16, 35n34, 45, 59, 133, 239. See also deixis, indexicality Shore, Chris, 13 Shumar, Wesley, 21, 76, 78, 80 Silverstein, Michael, 25, 72, 84, 147, 235 skills, 3, 12, 23, 27–28, 30, 37–39, 52, 63, 65–69, 73, 92–94, 111, 113, 118, 140–41, 171, 232, 238–39, 261; hard skills, 23; liberal arts skills, 37–39, 65–69, 73, 93, 178; soft skills, 23, 27, 30, 37–38, 69, 73, 111, 113, 238; soft skills workshops, 238 Skrentny, John, 19 Slaughter, Sheila, 80 Smith, Jonathan Z., 65 social capital, 23, 29, 58, 69–70, 135, 140, 191–92 social fact, 16, 77, 79 social justice, 5, 6–7, 10, 135, 147, 182, 216–17, 234, 244, 247, 253 social markedness. See under markedness socialization, 113–14, 173; primary, 29, 223n1, 223n3; secondary, 223n1, 223n3 sororities at the College, 31, 116, 145n11, 198–201, 203–204, 206–208, 215; and cultural organizations, 206–207. See also Greek letter societies, Latina sororities, multicultural sororities, private societies Spelman College, 43 sports, 4, 10, 29, 57–58, 71n11, 74, 82, 89, 102, 107n3, 134–35, 175–76, 208–13, 257–58. See also athletics stakeholders, 8, 23, 34n21, 46, 66–67, 73, 81–82, 130, 133, 189, 261, 268 Stamats, 82–83, 85, 92 Stevens, Mitchell, 5, 11, 99–100, 259

Index  ♦ 297 strategic planning, 79, 81, 90–91, 107n11, 231, 260 strategically deployable shifter, 27, 45, 59, 133, 239 structural secrecy, 268–69 structures of feeling, 16, 197 student activism at College, 116, 138– 39, 142, 147, 158–60, 180, 255–57, 269–70. See also Collective student activities director, 113, 198 student experience at the College, 1–2, 8–11, 21–22, 24, 27, 30–31, 84–86, 97–98, 108n19, 110–45, 146–90, 191–224, 241–43, 252, 266, 271, 272; as marketing material, 4, 6, 38, 68, 70, 73, 76, 80–83, 84, 92–97 student fun, 31, 57, 75, 193–97, 213–18 student life administration, 7–8, 10, 30–31, 73, 110, 114, 117, 126, 130, 132–34, 136, 189, 193–94, 201–203, 217, 220, 268–69, 272 student mental health issues, 188, 273 student organizations, 10, 31, 90, 101, 111, 128, 134, 144, 145n11, 145n14, 179–80, 201–202, 210. See also cultural organizations, private societies student recruitment, 55, 100, 102. See also multicultural recruitment student sociality, 30–31, 56–57, 69, 92, 110, 114, 116, 192–94, 196–98, 200, 208, 213–14, 218, 222 student subjectivity, 23, 41, 92, 112, 196–97, 251 students: future, 2, 28; past, 2, 4, 28, 31; prospective, 8–9, 30, 66, 77, 79, 82, 95–96, 99, 105, 220, 266–67 students as cultural content providers, 9, 31, 85, 94, 147, 174, 178, 180, 189, 271 students as customers, 80, 83, 265 students as future employees, 38, 99 students of color, 1–2, 10, 22, 27, 30, 89, 111–12, 113, 116, 117–18, 128–29, 133–36, 139, 161–64, 166–67, 170–71, 181, 188, 191,

197, 205, 216, 242, 245, 252, 255–56, 259, 269–70 (see also Asian students, black students, Latino/a/x students); as alumni, 97–98, 220–21; as demographic category, 4, 22; faculty as mentors, role models to, 233, 240; identity, 174, 188; images of, 1–2, 91, 111, 182, 267; recruitment of, 96–97, 100–102, 104–105, 266 (see also multicultural recruitment) Swan, Elaine, 89 Takacs, Christopher, 111, 114, 194, 208 Taylor, Janelle, 147 Taylor, Frederick, 47, 49, 50 teamwork, team skills, 23, 38, 121, 123, 232, 238 Thelin, John, 42–44, 48, 52, 57 theme parties, 31, 204, 213–218, 222; Bros and Hoes party, 217–18; Ethnic Night party, 216–18 Thirdness, 75–76, 88, 107n4 Torres, Kimberly, 147 tour guides, tour guiding, 10, 85, 95–97, 138, 188–89, 210 transgressive play, 31, 196, 214, 218. See also student fun Truman, Harry S., 52 trustees, 11, 13–14, 38, 42–43, 45, 50, 67; at the College, 2, 8, 32, 32n9, 78, 91, 93, 99, 107n9, 107n11, 108n18, 128, 130–31, 181, 185, 219, 227, 230, 259–60, 262, 266–269 Tuchman, Gaye 5, 11, 21, 78, 80–81, 260–61 Turner, Victor, 192 Tuskegee Institute, 43 Union College, 44, 47, 70n4, 71n9 Urban, Greg, 28, 57, 85 U.S. News and World Reports (USN&WR): college and university rankings, 5, 9, 77, 79–80, 98, 201, 212; ethnic diversity index, 9, 100 use value of liberal arts, 81, 91–92

298  ♦ Index Valdez, Juan, 153 Vaughan, Diane, 268 Veblen, Thorstein, 48, 70n8, 273 Vera, Hernán, 147 Veysey, Laurence, 47–48 Virginia, University of, 44, 140 Warnock, Deborah, 147 Weber, Max, 29, 99 Wechsler, Harold S., 52, 54–56 Weisinger, Herbert, 61, 65 Western civilization, 30, 37–38, 60–62, 64–65, 69 Whalen, Lorna Miles, 83, 85, 92 white administrators, 109n23 white alumni, 30, 98 white demographic category, 9, 18–19, 22, 89, 157 white faculty, 10, 129, 225, 240, 252, 262n1 white public space, 29, 32, 37, 39, 65, 147, 188, 265, 267 white students, 30, 68, 91, 95–97, 102, 111–12, 117, 124, 133, 142, 146, 170–71, 174, 189, 199–205, 207, 209–10, 214, 218, 222, 223n4, 241–244, 256, 261, 267; in Opportunity Program, 102,

111, 164, 170; in Posse, 111, 170; perception of non-white course content, 241–44; sociality and social capital, 191–98, 213–218; on the website, 4, 89, 270 whiteness: at the College, 1, 9, 153, 166, 188, 191–98, 269–70; perceived by international students, 186; perceived by students of color, 1, 10, 118, 149, 160–71, 174, 176–79, 181, 206, 242; produced as racial unmarkedness, 12, 16–17, 33n18, 34nn19–20, 147, 262 Wildavsky, Ben, 77, 80 William and Mary, College of, 42, 47 Williams College, 5, 6, 47 Williams, Raymond, 15–16 Wirtz, Kristina, 16, 197 women’s studies programs, 62, 156, 243, 246–47 Wright, Susan, 13 Yale Report, 44–45 Yale University, 42, 44, 46–47, 53, 55, 71n11 Yanow, Dvora, 19