Home » Higher Education » Racism, Political Correctness, Language & Culture: A New Text to Address the Malaise on Campus

Racism, Political Correctness, Language & Culture: A New Text to Address the Malaise on Campus

What is it that’s led to a rash of more overt racism both in society at large, and in particular on our campuses? Those who previously self-censored overt racist behavior and language, or expressed their views in more covert coded language, seem to feel free to express their deep-rooted feelings loudly both in person and on social media without inhibition, encouraged by public figures who deride “political correctness.”

Why is it that a phrase that characterizes language and measures intended to avoid denigrating or insulting groups of people who have historically been marginalized or discriminated against is now frequently demonized, and is used pejoratively?

We all consider rudeness inexcusable when directed at individuals in our own communities. We are taught young to hold our tongues; reflect on the hurt we might give; consider the inappropriateness of insulting people for external characteristics that have no connection to their character; not judge people by externals. We’re taught to govern ourselves and to treat everyone with respect. Why, to some, don’t these same self-constraints apply when taking about or to people of other races or ethnicities? Those who rail against political correctness should think about language that they probably hesitate to use among “their own”, and would react to violently if applied to them: white trash, fat, retard, wimp, dirt poor, ignorant.

The need for multicultural and anti-racist training is more necessary than ever at a time when the old majority is being displaced by the new. The understanding of culture – be it dominant white culture or previously subordinated cultures – is critical for developing our society for which the development of the diversity of perspectives is an essential precondition of long-term health and economic future.

Multiculturalism_Cuyjet_COVER_print_REV2The new edition of Multiculturalism on Campus is a text for the moment.

Multiculturalism on Campus
Theory, Models, and Practices for Understanding Diversity and Creating Inclusion
Second Edition
Edited by Michael J. Cuyjet, Chris Linder, Mary F. Howard-Hamilton, and Diane L. Cooper

Below is an excerpt from the book, as well as some takeaway strategies for Student Affairs.





Several strategies and resources exist for student affairs educators interested in continuing to develop critical consciousness and inclusive campus environments. Additionally, we provide suggestions of resources where student affairs educators may gain additional information on these topics.

  1. Continually work to make the unconscious conscious.
  2. Create identity-explicit, not identity-exclusive, spaces.
  3. Address racial battle fatigue, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma.
  4. Approach work from a “yes, and . . .” perspective.
  5. Stay abreast of current issues.
  6. Seek out critically conscious communities.

The specific strategies highlighted here contribute to a deeper and more nuanced understanding of critical consciousness in student affairs work. The concepts presented in this chapter and throughout this book extend beyond student affairs educators to other campus staff, faculty, and administrators, all of whom must be part of creating more inclusive environments for students. Systemic change can only occur when every member of the community is supported, valued, and able to present as his or her true self on safe campuses. Student affairs educators must lead these efforts.

Instructors: Click here to request a copy of this text for course review. Examination copies are given for 90-day review.

About the Editors:

Michael J. Cuyjet is a Professor in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville, where he has been teaching and mentoring students in the College Student Personnel program since 1993. His research areas include underrepresented college student populations and competencies of student affairs new professionals. He is the editor and one of the authors of the 2006 book, African American Men in College, and a coauthor of the 2002 book, How Minority Students Experience College.

Chris Linder currently holds a faculty position in College Student Affairs Administration and the Institute for Women’s Studies at the University of Georgia. She believes in centering the voices of historically minoritized people in higher education. Her research is informed by her work in a campus-based women’s center, where she supported survivors of sexual violence. Most recently, her research has focused on ways campus activists use their voices to elevate sexual violence as an important national issue.

Mary F. Howard-Hamilton is a Professor of Higher Education at Indiana State University. She previously served as a higher education administrator for 15 years, working at five institutions, where her responsibilities variously included orientation, developmental education, judicial affairs, multicultural affairs, commuter life, and residence life. Her areas of expertise are multicultural issues in higher education, student development theories, feminist theory and therapy, and consultation. She has published over 75 articles and book chapters, and co-authored or co-edited five books.

Diane L. Cooper is a Professor of College Student Affairs Administration in the Department of Counseling and Human Development Services at The University of Georgia.  Dr. Cooper served for 6 years as the Editor for the College Student Affairs Journal and on the editorial board for the Journal of College Student Development. Her research interests are in multiple identity development, program design and assessment, legal and ethical issues in student affairs practice, and professional issues related to underrepresented groups in higher education.

For more about the editors or additional resources for Multiculturalism on Campus, Second Edition, visit the book page at


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