Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Why not call it racism?

Yesterday, after my 11 am class, I went by the bookstore on the ground floor of BHS. There was a long line, stretching from the entrance of the bookstore eastward toward the east entrance to BHS. Everyone I saw in that line would be called “black” in this racist society.

Can you imagine that more affluent white students would be treated like this, with so little respect? Well, perhaps you can barely imagine it, but it is very unlikely. This disrespect is usually reserved for black people, which makes it racist.

The long lines have two sources. First, the students are not allowed into the book aisles to select their own books, as they would be able to do at almost any other university. Instead they hand their schedule to a clerk who selects their books for them.

Second, there aren’t enough clerks hired to do this work to avoid the disrespect of the long lines for students.

One bookstore employee told me the reason for not letting students select their own books is the small space in 102 BHS, but if that was an excuse six years ago, it is not an excuse now. Space needs to be found for a decent bookstore.

The last location of the bookstore had been in the old cafeteria space of the Robinson University Center, the old railroad building along 95th Street.  That was also where there was a day care center open to the children of our students. Child care facilities have also been unavailable on campus now for many years.

Every university experiences problems, but in my experience only black students are so consistently subject to such disrespectful treatment. Why not call it racism? That’s what it is.


  1. I should have connected the issues of disrespectful treatment of students at the bookstore and of lack of child care with the current scandal of the interim provost's apparent plagiarism of large parts of her dissertation. The failure to hire the best people available into administrative positions (think interim president Pogue of a few years ago) is another example of the racist contempt in which CSU students (and, by association, the faculty) are held.

  2. Paul, that was exactly my experience while waiting in line for textbooks at Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh from 1977-1979. One of those lines was so long that I was able to chat up the cutie behind me and make a date. Had the line been a bit longer, we might have married and had kids.

    1. Thanks, Eric, for sharing your experience. I must confess that I was comparing CSU with other four-year comprehensive universities and was unaware of what the norms would be at community colleges. Issues of race and class are deeply intertwined here. Is there a four-year doctoral granting university where they do the same?

  3. Actually, I have attended and visited other universities where the bookstores were temporarily closed off while textbooks were being delivered at the beginning of the semester. The bookstores at the universities that I attended were open for browsing at other times. I was turned away at UNC-Asheville while on a job interview, but was invited back the next day when the madness had ended.