US college presidents reflect on 2015 protests, campus racism

January 7, 2016

“College presidents can't solve all of society's problems,” writes the Huffington Post, “but they do have a responsibility to join student activists in efforts to address systemic racial bias.” This was the general opinion that emerged from a recent interview the newspaper conducted with three US college presidents: Pomona College's David Oxtoby, Muhlenberg College's John Williams Jr, and Davidson College's Carol Quillen. The three presidents discussed what they had learned from the many campus-based protests of 2015 and especially from the growing awareness around racial conflicts. Ultimately, the presidents agreed that the role of colleges is to create cultures that make it as difficult as possible for individuals to espouse racist or oppressive views. As one president put it, “what I'm talking about is creating a culture where people who come to [college] with racist attitudes don't feel comfortable—they feel uncomfortable." Huffington Post