Degree Year

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies

Advisor(s)

Jan Cooper

Committee Member(s)

Ann Sherif, Chair
Afia Ofori-Mensa

Keywords

Diversity, Princeton University, Racism, Student activism, Racial difference, Feminist methodology, Black Justice League, Inclusion, Ethnic studies, BJL

Abstract

I examine online diversity initiative pages, student activism and administrative responses in Fall 2015 at Princeton University as a case study. In the first section, I analyze Princeton’s online diversity initiative page “Many Voices, One Future” by demonstrating how “diversity” becomes individualized, commodified, and quantified. In its claims to aspire to equality (or equal representation), the discourse of diversity ignores historical and sociopolitical contexts of oppression that produce and maintain difference in the first place. In the second section, I investigate how the actions of the Black Justice League challenge or the rhetoric of diversity that the administration embodies. Further, I argue that the administrative and student body responses that opposes BJL’s actions use words such as “equality” and “civility” in order to silence and divert BJL’s arguments. In positing the idea that all individuals have an equal stake in a situation, those who advocate this argument both intentionally and unintentionally fail to recognize the meaning behind the demands of Black Justice League. Ultimately, I question the implications of demanding “inclusion” for non-white bodies into the academy almost half a century after the struggle for Ethnic Studies.

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