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Your Scholarships, Their Future: A Metaphor for Systemic Inequity

In his words: Mark Largent

portrait of Mark Largent

Your Scholarships, Their Future: A Metaphor for Systemic Inequity

In his words: Mark Largent

A Metaphor for Systemic Inequity

In his words: Mark Largent

Mark Largent is the associate provost for Undergraduate Education and dean of Undergraduate Studies. He is one of the people leading the charge to make MSU a more equitable place for all. Instead of illustrating his point through potholes and playing fields, he tells a story about highways and bridges.

The story is that of Jones Beach in Long Island, New York.

Built in the 1930s, Jones Beach was a beautiful creation, an oasis for New Yorkers during the stifling summer months in the city. And unlike so many waterfront spaces, Jones Beach was open to the general public.

Anyone who wanted to go to the beach, could go to the beach.

Sort of.

At the same time the beach was being hailed as a shining example of a recreation space for the masses, the expressway built from New York City to Jones Beach had overpass bridges intentionally designed with such low clearance that buses were unable to pass beneath them.

So, yes, people who wanted to go to the beach by car could go to the beach. But people who relied on the bus system—a demographic overwhelmingly composed of poor people and people of color—could not go to the beach.

“Our university, like all others, is full of low bridges,” Largent says of the metaphor. “Things that were accidentally or intentionally designed to keep people from ‘going to the beach.’ It is our job to find them, to root them out, to fix them and to build new expressways.”


Read on…

Author: Devon Barrett, '11