Neoliberal Higher Education and Diversity

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Sociology

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Arthur Scarritt


This qualitative study investigates the relationship between diversity rhetoric in the university and students’ understanding of systemic racism. Despite the university’s promotion of diversity on campus, the university does not foster an environment where students have a critical understanding of racial inequality and systemic racism, although systemic racism is relevant to their positions as students in a foundationally white institution. The analysis is drawn upon interview data gathered from Boise State undergraduate students. I argue that Boise State’s promotion of diversity, specifically promotion of colorblind diversity and tokenization of students of color, obscures racism and leads to a belief among white students that racism is not prevalent on campus. Boise State in its failure to direct students to think critically about multiculturalism protects white supremacy. These findings suggest the university to consider critical multiculturalism as a better theoretical framework for future multicultural classes and statements of diversity.

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