University ads "tokenize" minority students

March 25, 2008

Two profs at uAlabama are presenting a paper at a New York conference this week based on a review of 43 college TV spots aired during the 2006-07 Bowl Championship Series. They found that the ads portray campuses as "overwhelmingly white, privileged environments."  Minority students were generally depicted as "token members of larger groups," communicating "to any would-be students of colour that their experiences will be marked by tokenism ... doing untold damage to the public missions of these institutions to increase access and attainment among all populations."  Alumni were also shown as "white and wealthy," an attempt to show success and tradition.  Chronicle of Higher Education