Dr. Helen

White Men are Alienated in Higher Ed: Who Knew?

A reader sent me an interesting article from Inside Higher Ed entitled Majority Disaffection:

ORLANDO – Most people who are not straight white men would probably smirk at the idea that straight white men feel alienated in the higher education workplace.

Those who smirk, Sandra Miles said here at the annual conference of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, are hindering meaningful discussion about race.

Miles, whose dissertation on the professional experiences of black women in her field produced an unexpected sub-study about the alienation of straight white men, made this argument to a couple hundred people who turned up to hear more about her research. The ensuing debate was, unsurprisingly, somewhat contentious.

A comment by one white graduate student toward the end of the session summed it up well. He described a recent discussion about privilege in a higher education class, when he was shot down after offering his own thoughts.

“I couldn’t even begin to have that conversation because it was automatically assumed I didn’t understand,” he said. “To go through that experience in a higher education class – which is supposed to be the safest place to talk about that – was just terrifying.”

Really, a higher ed class is a safe place to be a white male? Even as an undergrad in the 1980’s, I watched white men being shot down in class all the time for “not understanding.” Glad some people are finally catching on after only 30 or maybe even 50 years of this. It’s about time that a few researchers are taking notice, I guess. Better late than never.

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