Date of Graduation

5-2017

Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Department or Program

Sociology

First Advisor

Theodore Greene

Second Advisor

Ingrid Nelson

Abstract

As colleges and universities have increased efforts to make their campuses more racially and ethnically inclusive, students of color still perceive their campuses as hostile spaces to racial and ethnic minorities. On the other hand, white students often feel as though their institutions do too much, leaving administrators to balance the interests of both groups. This thesis draws on archival, ethnographic, and interview data collected at Bowdoin College to examine the relationship between students and between students and administrators given the role of students as major agents of change on college campuses. I have found that when students feel threatened by institutional change, they go into crisis and create spaces of resistance on campus. Institutions are incapable or unwilling to find solutions that meet the needs of the various constituencies within the student body. Therefore, students and administration become locked in a power struggle that produces only surface-level institutional change rather than meaningful reform in the face of rising racial tensions.

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