On Jan. 30, The Daily Campus published an article that detailed the racial makeup of the faculty at the University of Connecticut. The results showed that the majority of the faculty is white. Many students, especially those of color, have said that they feel underrepresented.
Of course, UConn should do something to change this; universities in general should make sure that their students feel more represented so that students are able to get the most out of their education. These interventions would have to happen at the hiring level as well as much earlier in students’ academic careers.
Part of the reason why certain races — in UConn’s case, black and Hispanic — are underrepresented is because often times, there are fewer applicants who are people of color. This goes back to a root cause in many earlier education systems in which many people of color are not encouraged to get a doctoral degree and become professors. The few who do go into the field often face difficulties in their chosen places of work.
These difficulties include being overwhelmed due to having to fill the roles of a professor, researcher and a mentor, as well as the fact that quite a few do experience racial microaggressions from their colleagues and from wherever their work is being published. Often times, these faculty members are overextended, and therefore, overwhelmed.
UConn should definitely work on hiring more people of color as members of the faculty in order to make students — and the faculty itself — feel more represented. However, it goes beyond this. UConn should also work on creating a better environment where these faculty members feel valued by their colleagues and bosses, and in their environment in general. The atmosphere should be more encouraging and welcoming in order to help with retention.
As for encouraging students — especially students who are black or Hispanic — to get a doctoral degree and become professors, UConn could offer more scholarships to students who wish to pursue this path. With these scholarships, students would be more inclined to perhaps become professors because the financial aspect would not be as much of a problem.
Hiring more faculty members who are people of color is not something UConn can do overnight. However, UConn can work much harder to create a more racially diverse faculty and create a more welcoming work environment for these faculty members.
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