Prof suggests counseling for victims of microaggressions

Toni Airaksinen
Columnist at PJ Media

  • An associate professor at the University of Rhode Island (URI) recently discovered that many students cope with “racial microaggressions” by going home and crying it out, or even avoiding certain professors.
  • One of the strategies she recommends is to offer counseling and leadership development programs for students of color so that they can address “microaggressions, activism, burnout, and self-care” with others.
  • An associate professor at the University of Rhode Island (URI) recently discovered that many students cope with “racial microaggressions” by going home and crying it out.

    Annemarie Vaccaro, who teaches graduate classes at URI, used focus groups to probe 18 students of color on how they cope with the “racial microaggressions” they face on their predominantly white women’s college campus.

    "If they piss me off one time, that’s it, I’m not going to come back."   

    The study was published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Women in Higher Education, which aims to publish research on issues impacting women at all levels of higher education.

    Microaggressions can include many “brief and common” perceived insults or slights, according to Vaccaro—who, as Campus Reform reported last August, coined the term “invisibility microaggressions” to describe when students of color “feel invisible.”

    [RELATED: 'Diversity educators' fear 'burnout' from 'microaggressions']

    In her latest study, Vaccaro found that many students cope with microaggressions by going home and crying it out. In a section titled, “It’s Easier to Just Go Home,” she details some of the coping mechanisms that her interviewees used.

    “Kim, who described herself as introverted, found it easier to say nothing and retreat to the comfort of home where she could cry it out,” Vaccaro writes, adding that Kim, an Asian student, told her that “It’s so easy to just want to retreat, and...just be like ‘I don’t think I want to do this anymore.’ It’s just easier to go home.”

    Another student, Lizette, “started crying about her experiences,” Vaccaro noted.

    “For me, I think the most painful things...I keep it inside. As far as smaller things, like other little problems, or whatever, I usually turn to...my close friends...But the things that are more painful I tend to keep them to myself,” Lizette said during the focus group.

    Other students reported coping with microaggressions by avoiding professors, faculty members, and staff that they “perceived to be racist.”

    [RELATED: Profs warn of 'dire consequences of microaggressions' in K-8]

    “If they piss me off one time, that’s it, I’m not going to come back,” said Sharon, on how she deals with professors and faculty members she feels are microaggressive.

    To address the “pervasive racial microaggressions” that students face, Vaccaro recommends several strategies colleges can use to help, including more counseling services for students of color, and more leadership development programs where students of color can discuss “microaggressions, activism, burnout, and self-care.”

    Vaccaro did not respond to a request for comment from Campus Reform.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen





    Toni Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen

    Columnist at PJ Media
    Toni Airaksinen is Columnist at PJ Media and a Consultant at Youth Radio. She was previously a New Jersey Campus Correspondent, reporting on liberal bias and abuse for Campus Reform with a focus on Title IX, the OCR, and the First Amendment. During college, she also was a columnist for Quillette and The Columbia Spectator. Her exclusives have been featured on FOX News and The Drudge Report. She graduated from Barnard College in 2018.
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