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eCornell: Racial Equity in Higher Education: Turning Student Activism Into Real Change

July 8, 2020 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

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Over the past several weeks, protest movements have erupted across the country in response to police brutality, enduring systemic racism, and glaring inequality. While most college campuses are currently empty because of the pandemic, they are not exempt from these greater societal issues. Once classes resume, campuses nationwide are likely to become hotbeds for student activism.

The confluence of campus closures with social upheaval provides an opportunity for a reset within higher education. University officials can and should work with student activists now so that when in-person classes begin again, we will not settle for returning to “normal” and instead strive for “better.” In order to turn our current moment of turmoil into lasting change that addresses the fundamental equity challenges facing higher education today, university officials need to listen to students’ frustrations and their demands for change.


  • Connections and similarities between the national protests and the challenges within higher education
  • How issues of structural racism and racial equity manifest on college campuses
  • What it means to redesign higher education for racial equity
  • How campuses can more successfully engage their student activists


  • Dr. Vijay Pendakur, Robert W. & Elizabeth C. Staley Dean of Students, Cornell University


Diversity & Inclusion
Transferable Skills
Community Engagement