University News

Students volunteer to phone minority admits

Congratulatory calls in recruitment push will go to Asian American admits for the first time

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 3, 2013

All admitted students of color from the class of 2017 — including, for the first time, Asian Americans — will receive phone calls this week from student volunteers congratulating them on their acceptances and answering any of the prospective students’ questions.

Forty-five percent of the accepted 2,649 students from this year’s admitted class identify as students of color, a group that includes African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans, The Herald previously reported.

The event is organized by the minority recruitment interns from the Admission Office and will take place Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week from 4 to 9 p.m. in the Maddock Alumni Center.

This is the “third or fourth” time minority admitted students have been called after an admission cycle, said Elizabeth Hart, director of minority recruitment.

Asian Americans are now included because of increased numbers of volunteers and extended calling times. Native Americans were called for the first time during last year’s event.

“When we first began calling, we started out small with the populations that are less represented in our applicant pool,” Hart said. “So we began with African Americans and Latinos.”

Hart said she does not expect the event to expand to all admitted students in the near future simply because there are not enough resources at the Office of Admission to contact all accepted applicants. She added that the office is “already stretched thin” doing this event and that the Maddock Center is loaning the calling space.

Student volunteers will call the admitted students using a rough format, which will include extending a “warm welcome” to the admitted students, explaining their own “Brown experience” and then allowing time for questions, Hart said.

“We want to show these students that we have a strong student of color presence on campus,” said Manuel Contreras ’16, a minority recruitment intern and one of the event’s coordinators. He added that this event is key in attracting minority students to Brown because some of these students may have been unable to visit campus before the May 1 commitment date.

“Our first goal is to present Brown as a serious option to these students and answer additional information they might need,” Hart said. “And then we hope they’ll come.”

  • Joe’09

    What constitutes a minority? All the recent talk has been about recruiting the rural poor – do they get a phone call, or do they get called only if they’re non-white (the implication of this article)?

    The rhetoric of these policies is going to be increasingly hard to defend in the future. Limitation of resources is understandable, but when nearly half of the (potential) student body is getting letters and called while the other half isn’t, you’re creating an unstable dynamic based solely on skin-color. How is this healthy for the idea of diversity and future growth of the university?

    • Alumn ’97

      The TWC and TWTP are now represented by a lobby of constituents within the Brown community of students, administrators, and alumni. It’s obvious that these programs create unequal experiences for students at Brown. But, TWTP serves its participants well, so it is tough to undo.

      In particular, TWTP was evaluated by an outside group at the beginning of the ’00s and, in spite of some commonsense suggestions and criticisms of the program, not much was changed.

      The country’s president is African American. Times have changed. I wish I’d had this sort of reach-out as a first-generation child of immigrants. Instead, I arrived on campus to a roommate with whom I didn’t become friends because his initial socialization took place during TWTP and continued at Harambee during sophomore year.

      It’s a tough dilemma at Brown, because the influence of TWC and TWTP on the collective student experience is not trivial.

      • Joe’09

        Nevermind that the names themselves are insulting to minority students.

      • heyholetsgo

        Agreed. The TWTP is an indoctrination machinery instituted by Brown and the most aggressive female, black and Latino supremacists we have on campus. It is laughable when they talk about the pureness of Africa or the Latin American countries and how students need to reconnect to a continent they have no relation to…

    • Yes, there’s been the change is that skin color is no longer as good of a good proxy for socioeconomic class, especially conditioned on that these are people who have already applied to Brown. [There have been a series of NYT articles on how elite universities are not even seen as options by many qualified candidates of lower SES.]

      • Joe’09

        Skin color has never been a good proxy for economic status – at best, it ignored the fact that a substantial number of caucasians are impoverished. Do poor white people constitute a minority group, or not so because they’re white? Do rich “colored” people constitute a minority group? Why, when they have all the opportunities that come with the 1%? I come back to my original question – what is a minority?

        • MPC Friend ’14

          SES matters, but that doesn’t mean that race doesn’t matter. Yes, rich people of color (please don’t use the term “colored” people) have opportunities that poor people of color don’t. But it doesn’t erase the fact that even with great opportunities, they probably have been hindered from higher education solely b/c of their race. Even high-achieving black students have their intelligence questioned or are cast off as an aberrant because in our society, blacks are overly criminalized and not “supposed to” succeed.

          Perhaps it would be more productive to push the University to call students of low-income families as well as students of color rather than stating that this call promotes “unhealthy” ideas of diversity.

          • Joe’09

            “But it doesn’t erase the fact that even with great opportunities, they probably have been hindered from higher education solely b/c of their race.”

            This may have been historically accurate, but it sounds like something that people accept blindly on faith these days. We can’t continually treat the world as if it was even a decade ago. Things aren’t perfect, obviously, but I think your rhetoric misrepresents the problem. I’ll ignore for now that some of that “questioning” comes from the role of affirmative action and meritocracy.

            I do think it promotes an unhealthy idea of diversity. The university should call all students, period. You can’t promote equality by favoring groups unequally, and while these policies are meant to balance out “societal perception,” they’re not doing us any favor by treating us as less capable or more in need of coddling.

    • Anonymous

      Recruit volunteers to call any students who are apprehensive about accepting their admissions offers. It’s certainly doable. Heck, if every current freshman calls two admits, the entire pool of admitted students would be covered – rich, poor, white, black, domestic, international.

      I agree with Joe ’09 about the difficulty of justifying the rhetoric. Why is the starting point of this volunteer calling program determined by race? Why does Frantz Fanon and the colonial liberation of the Third World continue to have such influence over pre-frosh and orientation activities at Brown?

      The rhetoric is indeed hard to defend, obsolete, and weird. Why not call the TWC the “Minority Student Center” and TWTP the “Minority Student Transition Program”? It’s a no brainer and already done with MPCs.

      Jeremy Lin and Malia Obama would kick my ass if I suggested their college careers were to be somehow related to their own liberation from Third World oppression. If they became self-aware in this fashion, they’d never get anywhere in modern America. If nothing else, at least move forward with the terminology.

    • Current student of color

      Joe, I appreciate your honesty. However, it is obvious that you are speaking from a privileged point of view.

      First, the term “non-white” (a term that very much reinforces the priority and normalcy of whiteness) is ridiculous. I do not speak for all students of color but if you called me non-white, I would be offended.

      Second, it makes sense that you would feel comfortable that half of the incoming class is composed of students of color. That’s enough, right? That’s the wrong question. Considering your comment below about recent talk being about rural poor and the lack of outreach/admittance in this area, when you think about the percentage of students that come from urban backgrounds, why is it that white students still compose 50% of the incoming class? Many major cities are not majority white anymore.

      Third, I fight for resources for students of color. In a society that privileges white students, in a society where students of color still face racism (unintentional and intentional), in a society where students of color still may feel uncomfortable in majority white institutions, there is still work to be done.

      • Alumn ’97

        Hi current student of color. The work you are doing – obviously with great care and passion – is critically important. I think it would be naive for anyone to deny that disadvantage along racial and class lines in American society is a live issue.

        These problems profoundly affect student experiences while at Brown and after graduation.

        My hope for Brown is simply that the new generation of students take possession of TWC and TWTP and examine if the term “Third World” and its conceptual framework is really their own, or something that has been inherited from a previous generation.

        There’s no doubt that race is a highly charged topic in our society. There’s also reasonable evidence that TWTP does influence the collective student experience at Brown, (the vast majority of that influence is good, I believe). There’s also reasonable evidence that the term “Third World” used in this context is a bit weird and sometimes off-putting.

        I wonder if the goals you are fighting for could just as well be achieved – if not better achieved – without the current doctrinal trappings and nomenclature of the TWC. It’s at least something for the new generation to consider as it takes ownership and stewardship of Brown’s traditions and organizations.

      • Joe’09

        I am not white, and the term “non-white” doesn’t offend be, because it’s being used in an illustrative, descriptive context. Your appeal to the political correctness that has ensured things like this can’t be talked about publicly is, to me, invalid – at the end of the day caucasians are the only group not receiving a call.

        “That’s enough, right? That’s the wrong question.” <— you are redirecting the conversation to something that we're not discussing. The fact stands that demographically the nation is 70-someodd percent caucasian, so statements such as "why is it that white students still compose 50% of the incoming class?" due to some urban centers having demographically switched is a tired argument at best.

        You never answered the question. What constitutes a minority? Your argument hinges on the idea that "white" cannot be the minority due to universal societal privilege, despite statistics not favoring your argument (nor favoring white gentiles proportionally, nor favoring all races that are poor). A number of minority groups are proportionally misrepresented at schools in the name of diversity (Asians in particular), which is fine and harkens to the "American dream" meritocracy, but your arguments play to the idea that the less white people the better. Such an environment may not prepare other minority students for life after Brown, because society does have a clear demographic balance. We don't need to be coddled.

        You appeal to platitudes ("let's stop racism!") while advocating a policy that proportionally misrepresents an entire race (ignoring socioeconomic status entirely), simply because of the color of their skin. My point is that the notion of diversity you use (because racism! or discomfort at current demographics!) is not the measure of diversity the university should be using anymore.

  • 2015 Whoop!

    Hurry! Call this guy!:

    “Okay, so I just got the e-mail, and as much as I want to visit Brown again, I find the name of this very offensive. I’m Indian, which is a third world country, but I live in Texas. I don’t mind minority programs, but to refer to anybody that has a heritage coming from a LDC as “Third World” is inappropriate in my eyes. What kind of “Third World” Welcome is needed? I am not just getting off the boat. I am sure Brown, being the cultural and amazing school it is, did not mean to offend anyone, but I can’t help but be slightly put off. Anyways, I know we got the e-mail today, but does anyone think they are going to go?”:

    • Joe’09

      It’s a shame to see legitimate concerns blinded by prestige.

      • Plato

        The reason why the TWC uses the term ‘Third World’ is on the website for anyone to view. For those who are interested in learning why:

        • Alumn ’97

          At this point, everyone knows why the TWC adopted its name and terminology 40 years ago. Reiteration of the definition and directing the debate back to the website sidestep the issue. The question that is never honestly answered:

          “I agree with Joe ’09 about the difficulty of justifying the rhetoric. Why does Frantz Fanon and the colonial liberation of the Third World continue to have such influence over pre-frosh and orientation activities at Brown?”

        • Joe’09

          Do you honestly think new admits are going to be offended by the term, then decide to research it, and go, oh, everything’s okay now! I wasn’t a serious part of TWC and all that jazz because of the ridiculousness of the term’s message. Minority and majority are concepts someone preparing themselves for the real world would do well to gain a full understanding of.

    • currentstudent

      Students first began using the term “Third World” over “minority” because of the negative connotations of inferiority and powerlessness with which the word “minority” is often associated. Although the term “Third World” may have negative socioeconomic connotations outside of Brown, Third World students here continue to use the term in the context originating form the Civil Rights Movement.

      Taking inspiration from Franz Fanon’s wretched of the Earth, Brown students of color continue to use the term “Third World” in a similar fashion: to describe a consciousness which recognizes the commonalities and links shared by their diverse communities. Using the term “Third World” reminds students of the power they have in coalescing, communicating, and uniting across marginalized communities to create a safer and more open place for all individuals. This consciousness at Brown also reflects a right, a willingness, and a necessity for people of color and others to define themselves instead of being defined by others.

      The concept of “Third World” has special meaning for minority students at Brown. It is not to be confused with the economic definition of the term used commonly in our society today, but understood as a term that celebrates diverse cultures.

      • Alumn ’97

        Hi currentstudent. At this point, everyone knows why the TWC adopted its name and terminology 40 years ago. The question never honestly answered is:

        “I agree with Joe ’09 about the difficulty of justifying the rhetoric. Why does Frantz Fanon and the colonial liberation of the Third World continue to have such influence over pre-frosh and orientation activities at Brown?”

  • Common Sense

    Why does no one realize that calling minorities admits is racist?

    • Alumn ’97

      Because it isn’t. The term “visible minority” is an accurate and legitimate demographic term. Just as students who score As on a test are a minority in a classroom population.

      • Joe’09

        I think Common Sense means physically picking up a phone and calling (only) minority admits is racist, not describing them with the term minority.

        • MPC Friend ’14

          And doing so isn’t. Actively recruiting students of color (via affirmative action or calling pre-frosh) is not “racism” — it’s a temporary band-aid act to possibly undo the racism that these students have faced for the past eighteen years. Students of color, solely because of their race, are often ignored in the classroom, told by the media that they are thugs, gangsters, and delinquents, or in the case of Asian Americans, stigmatized for pursuing what is deemed to be a “stereotypical” path of math & science.

          There is and has always been “race” at play during these students’ lives that have hindered and questioned them for pursuing the path of higher education they are currently pursuing. Calling students of color doesn’t even come close to making up for that, but it’s a start.

          • current student of color

            Isn’t it possible that white students have their own stories? That they have also had difficulties? I understand the need for minority admit phone calls, but I don’t understand why these phone calls are limited solely to minority students. Why shouldn’t this be expanded to all students? If we have the resources, then why discriminate? And I do believe it is a form of discrimination. All students, no matter their skin color, have their own struggles, and those struggles vary on both racial/socioeconomic levels. Further more, a student with none of these racial/socioeconomic problems still put in work to get where they are. To be accepted to Brown is something worth congratulation, no matter the student’s background.

          • MPC Friend ’14

            This is a response that I often hear when I talk to students about privilege. Privilege whether it be racial or monetary or gender-wise does not invalidate one’s own hard work. Of course, white students and wealthier students also have had their own struggles and their own stories. But the question is where to put the resources when you don’t have enough to call everyone.

            Again, calling students of color is not discrimination. It’s an effort to compensate for discrimination. Some students grew up with positive media images of success and families supporting them, telling them they are able to go to college, if they were willing. Some students have not. Usually those that have been discouraged from higher education have been people of color and low-income students. So Brown calls those students in a last-minute effort to somehow make up for social pressures against them attending college.

          • Provigo!

            That makes perfect sense. I think what troubles people is that this calling initiative is intertwined with a constellation of minority student pre-matirculation activities that don’t always seem fair or healthy for the campus.

            (E.g. Why do some students start their Brown experience before others? No one has ever been able to explain how that makes any sense from the perspective of the health of the entire student community.)

            It’s unfortunate, but unless Brown’s overall advising structure is improved there will always be vulnerable students who can’t find a home in the Third World Community to make the disorientation of attending Brown less daunting and intimidating.

            In other words, the Third World Community, in spite of its anachronistic name, is the best advising and student advocacy network on campus.

          • Joe’09

            Accusations of privilege don’t make your argument, nor do assertions without any current evidence.

            Haven’t you ever heard of “two wrongs don’t make a right”? I love to see diversity on the campus, but the argument becomes even more mired when, again, caucasians don’t receive the same opportunities because of those they look. Affirmative action and dated actions based on what middle-aged people remember from their childhoods aside, it’s hard to say that we’re countering discrimination when, as others have commented in this thread, caucasians are a minority in a number of urban centers, and non-Jewish caucasians are proportionally underrepresented at top universities in the name of diversity. If a “student of color”‘s community culture discourages them from attending Brown, etc., isn’t it presumptuous of Brown to make an extra effort to change their mind? To say that this life is “better” than the one they may choose, but that white candidates know well the opportunity they’re offered?

            The idea of compensational diversity (such as calling non-white students because, well, they’re non-white, so society must be working against them) doesn’t benefit the university. We’re increasingly reaching a world in which everyone is a “minority” in some way, and in so doing we’re just shifting which groups are being disadvantaged. People have problems with this policy likely because it’s simply the most transparent.

          • MPC Friend ’14

            First, stating that white people have white privilege is not an “accusation”; it’s a fact. Think about it: if I state that heterosexual people have advantages such as walking down the street holding hands w/o getting harassed or get married because of their heterosexual privilege, it’s true — not an accusation. And having privilege does not invalidate one’s personal struggles, especially in other areas of their lives (such as being low-income or LGBTQ+).

            I mention this because now you are dipping into rhetoric about whites being victims and “minorities.” Your use of “minority” doesn’t just seem to mean smaller in number, but rather “outside the norm” or oppressed. Even if there are less whites in urban centers, you can’t say that now they are oppressed because of their race. How some teachers may wrongfully perceive and mistreat black students as stereotypical criminalized, lazy students doesn’t change just because of numbers; these views are more deeply engrained in our society via the media and those in power. And it’s these larger issues that make it more difficult for students of color to attend higher ed institutions — not the “community cultures” of these people of color. That’s blaming the victim.

            I’m going to have to dip out, but thanks for having this conversation.

  • White boy

    Racist bullshit! No one called me, the sole reason being that I am white. Seriously, what the fuck?

  • cruisingtherhine

    Hello, you are from that country, aren’t you? Oh, it’s from the other country nearby. Anyway, you cheated and succeeded, and now you are even going to get funding from Brown endowment. Congratulations! And, good news. You are all set. Even if those dumb deans caught on to your pranks, they wouldn’t have the balls to do anything about it. I know that you couldn’t know this. But just act like a 4th-grader and threaten to sue everybody when you are displeased. Those dumb deans will just back off. Pity the poor souls. And pity their children for having the kind of parents that they have. Funny, don’t you think?

  • 2010

    Third World Center calling applicants. Third World Transition Programs. Minority Peer Counselors, special segregated graduation garb.

    If you are a white male, Brown doesn’t give a shit about you until its time to collect donations.

    As a side note, I once worked at the Brown donation calling center when they were pushing a drive to get minority alumni to donate. They separated the callers by race, and had blacks calling blacks, Asians calling Asians, etc. White callers were given a grab bag to call. It was really fun being yelled at by the minority alumni who found the Brown sanctioned term “Person of Color” to be offensive (read: colored person) and berated me and the managers for even pursuing such an obviously racist tactic. These policies do nothing but alienate absolutely everyone from each other.

  • Logan

    Obviously the decision to call all admits of color offends many readers. Phrasing it differently may help.
    Perhaps: “Brown refuses to call white admits.”
    Or: “Colorless congratulation calls canned.”
    Even, ” Non-non-whites will receive non-calls, but non-whites will not receive non-calls.”