Academic Identity Politics

Glenn C. Altschuler and Isaac Kramnick

in Cornell

Published by Cornell University Press

Published in print July 2014 | ISBN: 9780801444258
Published online August 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780801471896
Academic Identity Politics

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This chapter examines how the issue of ethnic studies at Cornell University evolved into a component of what came to be known as “multiculturalism” or “identity politics.” It considers how Cornell responded to students' requests for various ethnic studies programs. It shows that identity politics became a fact of life at Cornell during the tenure of Frank H. T. Rhodes; ethnic studies programs proliferated and “black” residence halls and affirmative action were hotly debated. Partisans of identity politics, who viewed themselves as victims of oppression, demanded opportunities to learn about and celebrate their history and heritage, and safe, secure, and separate spaces for members of their group. In time, their numbers included African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, women, and gays, as well as some “white ethnics” (including Jewish, Irish, and Italian Americans). This chapter also discusses the attitudes of students toward identity politics, along with the existence of racial tension on campus.

Keywords: ethnic studies; Cornell University; multiculturalism; identity politics; students; Frank H. T. Rhodes; affirmative action; African Americans; gays; racial tension

Chapter.  16641 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Higher and Further Education

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