News & Politics

Report: Campus Activism Hurts Grades, Well-being of 'Students of Color'

(Ryan Flynn/New Haven Register via AP)

Campus activists at Brown University are struggling to balance their advocacy for liberal causes with mundane things like passing their classes and taking care of themselves. According to one student, the battle between activism and the stresses of “real” life disproportionately affects blacks and Hispanics.

From The Brown Daily Herald:

When faced with the decision of completing activist work or studying for an exam, students sometimes feel obligated to choose the former, said Liliana Sampedro ’18. This choice, often made by students advocating for increased diversity on campus, “has systemic effects on students of color,” she added.

Sampedro remembered working long hours to present demands for the university to revise its “diversity and inclusion action plan.” She recalled “emailing the professor and begging her to put things off for another week,” but the professor denied her request.

“I hadn’t eaten. I hadn’t slept. I was exhausted, physically and emotionally,” she said. After hours of work to compile and present the demands, she forced herself to stay up to complete the project anyway.

Sampedro is far from the only one to prioritize activism and a liberal identity over schoolwork and sanity, however.

Justice Gaines ’16, who uses the pronouns xe, xem and xyr, said student activism efforts on campus are necessary. “I don’t feel okay with seeing students go through hardships without helping and organizing to make things better.”

In the wake of [potentially offensive] opinion pieces, Gaines felt overwhelmed by emotions flooding across campus. Students were called out of class into organizing meetings, and xe felt pressure to help xyr peers cope with what was going on, xe said. Gaines “had a panic attack and couldn’t go to class for several days.”

Perhaps more depressing even than the students’ crazy demands is the administration’s willingness to play along. Students immersed in fighting for “safe spaces” and new considerations for whatever gender identifies as a “xe” may approach the school’s deans and ask for a note to postpone tests or class assignments. Ashley Ferranti, Brown’s assistant dean of student support services, estimated that these notes are accepted “over 90 percent of the time.”

During college, a time of growth and transition into adulthood, students need to learn effective time management skills, and deans who help them delay this important struggle are not doing them any favors. When these people enter the real world, they won’t have the benefit of safe spaces or enabling administrators to delay things like bills, tax returns, and job applications.