Friday, October 17, 2014

The Dalit of American Higher Education: The Social "Untouchables"

October 17th, 2014

In the traditional Indian caste system, certain individuals were so low they were not even classified; they were the “untouchables,” now called the dalit. Although strictly against Indian law, recent news reports say these people often are forced to do horrible tasks to this day, such as removing human excrement from latrines by their bare hands.
The academic dalit in America — the collegiate underclass — consists of two groups. Among the faculty, they are the adjuncts, persons with high teaching loads, low pay, minimal or no office space, and no job security. Although not latrine workers, they are the closest thing academic America has to that. Among the students, the “untouchables” are those students who do not make it through the system, the dropouts.
There are two striking facts about college dropouts: first, they are a large group, not some small minority. According to the Census Bureau, in 2013 there were 34,919,000 college dropouts 25 years or older, far more than the number of holders of Associate degrees (graduates of community colleges), and over half the number holding bachelor’s degrees or more.  Over one in four adult Americans who had attended an institution of higher education had dropped out. Looking at only those pursuing bachelor’s degrees, about 40 percent of students fail to graduate in six years.

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