AT THE INTERSECTION | Why MCTC’s decision to reprimand Shannon Gibney for teaching structural racism is an investment in white male power

I’m sure by now, most of you have heard about Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s (MCTC) decision to reprimand faculty member Shannon Gibney, after two students filed a complaint accusing her of singling them out — based on their race and gender — in class.For some context: the class was about structural racism, the students who complained were white males, and Gibney is a woman of color (whom I read as a black woman).  When I first heard that Gibney was being reprimanded because two white males felt like they were victims, the first thing I thought was, “how ridiculous.” As someone who understands how US power relations and racial hierarchies work, I couldn’t miss the irony: that she, a woman of color, was being accused of attacking white males in her class, because she was teaching about structural racism.To me, this is a textbook case of how white male privilege works. This is just one possible example of how white men can get away with “victimization” in conversations about the reality of white systems of oppression. The momentary white guilt they may feel when people of color bring up their lived realities of racism and racial violence makes them a “victim,” when the real victims are those in communities of color who live with such traumas every single day.MCTC’s decision to reprimand Gibney signals the college’s investment in protecting white male hurt feelings, and white male power. What I mean by this is that, despite the realities of structural racism faculty and students of color constantly face, and despite the very real power dynamics faculty of color experience in the classroom, the hurt feelings of a few white men trumped that. Continue Reading

Most agree MCTC needs more faculty of color: The disagreements are over how many, and how best to attract and keep them

In last week’s story, one former and two current faculty members questioned MCTC’s commitment to creating a diverse faculty. What may contribute to a lack of confidence in the college’s efforts is that while these and other concerned faculty members envision a faculty that reflects their student body, the college’s administration, under criteria set by the overall Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system, has no obligation to create such an environment.Second in a series. Last week: Students of color now the majority at Minneapolis Community and Technical CollegeDiana Cusick is director of legal affairs for MCTC. In that capacity, she oversees the school’s Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity goals. All MnSCU colleges and universities are required to submit Affirmative Action plans every two years using State documentation that divides the Minnesota workforce into Affirmative Action categories.“If the data show that there is a greater percentage in an Affirmative Action category [in the Minnesota workforce] than we have here working [at MCTC], then we have what is called ‘underutilization’ for that category.”According to the 2010-2012 documentation, of the 168 professional faculty positions, 22 minorities (13.1 percent) were required to meet Affirmative Action goals. Continue Reading

Students of color now the majority at Minneapolis Community and Technical College: Can the school handle this much diversity?

Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) has one of the most racially diverse college campuses in the state of Minnesota. Unlike students at many other colleges and universities across the state that tend to attract a more elite student body, faculty members describe their students as “eager to learn.”First in a series. Next week: MCTC’s efforts to increase its faculty of color.But does this unique student make-up — unlike that of any other demographic area in the state — pose an equally unique educational challenge? And is it a challenge that the MCTC staff, faculty and administration are prepared to meet?Until May 29 this year, Dr. SooJin Pate was a member of the faculty on the MCTC campus. She began her employment with MCTC just a year ago in January, but by the end of the semester she felt that there were racial issues that needed to be addressed.Pate joined a coalition of teachers who, describing themselves as “concerned faculty,” wrote an August 2011 letter to the president of the college detailing their concerns. Continue Reading

MCTC Bicycle Collective maintains foot-powered campus

Fix a flat? Slippery brakes? Need winter bicycle commuting advice? You’re covered thanks to the MCTC Bicycle Collective. This group of student volunteers sets up a mobile bike repair shop on campus, aiming to empower, educate, and advocate for all bikers in the city.Another reason why foot-powered progress works for Minnesota. Continue Reading