Posted on November 24, 2020

Dismantling the Master’s House

Jonathan Garcia et al., Inside Higher Ed, November 20, 2020


For decades, student activists have demanded that the Euro-centric financial and governing models be altered, yet it took a global pandemic to weaken the master’s collegiate house. {snip}

Students of color have been demanding systemic change to help them survive on Euro-centric campuses, and now Euro-centric campuses are rapidly adapting their strategies to survive a global pandemic. Gen Z students are using their own radical imagination, tapping into Afrofuturistic visions of what the post-COVID university could look like. White supremacy culture and corporate systems could be discarded and new racial-, class- and gender-equitable systems of fundraising, organizational design, pedagogy and power sharing could be embraced. Afrofuturism may be the engine for revising the antiracist university, one where systemic racism, sexism and classism are dismantled and more equitable systems are bolstered.

Afrofuturism is a combination of imagination, liberation and dreams of what is possible in a future that is not dominated by Black cultural death and slavery. If, through a Black cultural lens, one can reimagine a technologically savvy sci-fi Wakanda, where power is shared and society thrives, then why can’t we envision a liberated and inclusive college campus with drastically different power structures?


Below we offer some prescriptive suggestions to reimagine what a post-COVID future university could be like, partly inspired by Afrofuturistic imaginations.

  • Students should vote on various issues, as California does with propositions, to change campus power structures.
  • Boards of trustees should give philanthropically and support fundraising efforts but should not make decisions regarding the operation of the institution.
  • Presidents should be abolished, and instead communal and evenly distributed forms of leadership such as a board of faculty, administrators and upper-division students could help create antiracist policy.
  • Board members should be voted on by alumni, serving two-year terms. Younger alumni should run for election to provide diversity of age, race, gender and class of those serving on the board.
  • Exorbitant salaries of upper administrators should be reduced. These funds could be redistributed to students in the form of tuition remission and scholarships.
  • Institutions should fund racial justice centers on and off campus at a higher rate.
  • Student-led courses, where students earn credit for teaching, should be more ubiquitous, in order to champion cultural community wealth models.
  • Antiracist trainings that address individual and systemic racism should be required, just like Title IX antiharassment trainings are.
  • Affirmative action and holistic admissions approaches should be implemented, and financial need should take precedence in these admissions processes.
  • Students’ coursework should be tied to local opportunities for internships, jobs, social activism and improving individuals’ lives in the surrounding community of the campus.
  • Tenure should be abolished. Faculty should serve seven-year terms to support recruiting and retaining new Black and brown faculty, who are often relegated to adjunct status or treated unfairly in the tenure process.
  • More Black and brown faculty and administrators should be hired and promoted.
  • Interested students should be able to participate, for free, in Black birthright trips that take students to Washington, D.C.’s African American museum and Ghana, to learn about the influences of colonialism, slavery, culture, race, economics and Blackness in a global context.