Education

Students Say College Hiring A White Professor Is An ‘Egregious’ Offense

Students at Pomona College don’t want sociology professor Alice Goffman to work on their campus because of her race, Campus Reform reports. Goffman is white.

The students at the Claremont, California academic institution wrote a letter to the school’s administrators demanding that an offer of employment extended to Goffman be rescinded on the basis of the professor’s race.

The students argue that hiring Goffman is a repudiation of the college’s commitment to promote diversity and advance women of color.

The open letter was produced by 128 “sociology students, alumni, and allies” who wished to express their “anger” and “concern” regarding Goffman’s hire — but not their names.

They called the hiring a “failure” to work towards the goal of increasing the representation of professors of color.

They say the solution to such prevent such a grave error from ever being repeated is to mandate “influential student positions on the hiring committee.”

Not only that, the students suggested that because over 50 percent of the students of the Pomona sociology department are non-white, no more whites should be hired.

“The Sociology Department at Pomona College has not consistently had enough full-time faculty members of color to support its marginalized students. The vast majority of Sociology majors are students of color (and most are women of color), but the faculty are not at all representative of their students’ diversity.”

They go as far as to declare the hiring of Goffman as a “egregious” example of “anti-blackness” that fails to hold “institutions of higher education accountable for the violence they enact on marginalized groups.”

But it’s not about race for the students. It also about Goffman’s non-progressive research.

Goffman is the author of On The Run, which chronicles the drug war in Philadelphia. The book was an expansion of her award-winning PhD thesis. Despite the acclaim, Goffman has her detractors who claim the book has ethical issues and wasn’t sufficiently fact-checked.

Goffman staunchly defends her book as do others who appreciate her work but the Pomona students have been able to utilize the controversy toward their end.

“Her methods have endangered her research participants, encouraged the hyper-policing of Black communities, and continue to perpetuate anti-Blackness,” their open letter contends.

“Additionally, hiring white faculty who engage in voyeuristic, unethical research… reinforces harmful narratives about people of color,” the letter continues.

“The hiring of Alice Goffman has already, and will continue to discourage students of color, and especially women of color, from entering the Sociology Department and academia for years to come,” the letter concludes.

Pomona College News Director Mark Kendall told Campus Reform that the school remains unmoved by the students’ entreaty.

“We follow a rigorous process when hiring faculty,” Kendall said. “We are pleased that this process resulted in an offer and an acceptance, and we look forward to her joining our vibrant academic community in the fall as a visiting professor.”

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