Howard, an associate professor of communication at Rider University, provided brief remarks prior to the film’s screening. Following the film, Howard was joined on stage by Lindsay Hoffman, associate professor of communication and of political science and associate director of the Center for Political Communication. Hoffman moderated the discussion and the question-and-answer session that followed.
The event was sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for Political Communication, the Center for Black Culture and the Office of the Provost.
Through interviews with current students, professors, and administrators, the film examines how an individual’s experience within the educational system has influenced their understanding of issues related to race within the context of higher education.
For some students, that understanding begins with the application for admission when they must decide how to check the ethnicity box. Selecting the appropriate box is a simple, straightforward process for many students, but for others it is filled with anxiety and stress.
In the film, a biracial student explained that she felt torn between checking African-American or Caucasian, because selecting one box over the other was, in a sense, asking her to leave out half of her heritage.
Campus diversity is an important criterion during the college selection process, too, according to Howard, who disagreed with an admissions officer featured in the film. The administrator felt that diversity doesn’t matter to high school students when looking for a place to go to college.
“I think when a student does a campus tour – walks around the college – they are looking for some people that look like them. They are looking for certain things that say this university makes me feel safe in a certain way. I can be here. I can be here on my own. I do think [students] want to see people they can connect with,” Howard said.