Asians and Whites Have to Stay Longer

Carolyn Rouse, a Princeton cultural anthropologist and gender specialist, has an unusual classroom procedure. In her course on “Race and Medicine,” she invites black students to leave class ten minutes early because blacks have a shorter life expectancy than whites. According to the university news service, “Through this startling offer, typically not acted upon by her students, Rouse initiates a discussion about racial disparities in health care, a topic that is just one conduit to her core intellectual and personal interest: social inequality.”
There is much to ponder here. To be consistent about departures based on life expectancy, Rouse would presumably need to usher out morbidly obese students and three-pack-a-day smokers about two minutes into her class, followed by reckless drivers and enthusiastic consumers of exotic chemical compounds. Besides, inviting blacks to cut out early does not appear to be a surefire way to promote equality. Taking courses whose titles begin with the words “Race and…” doesn’t look like a positive idea either. They are usually classes in grievance production. Come to think of it, though, leaving a class in grievances ten minutes early may help a bit, though probably not as much as skipping the class entirely.

John Leo

John Leo is the editor of Minding the Campus, dedicated to chronicling imbalances within higher education and restoring intellectual pluralism to our American universities. His popular column, "On Society," ran in U.S.News & World Report for 17 years.

One thought on “Asians and Whites Have to Stay Longer”

  1. This is strange. Prof. Rouse appears to have a very low opinion of her own teaching if she believes missing a chunk of class will benefit her students. Most professors believe that the less class time students skip, the better-equipped they’ll be to succeed in the course. Her policy seems proof that the class material is of negligible importance.
    And what about Rouse herself, who appears to be black? Why doesn’t she walk out 10 minutes early with her black students?

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