Department or Program



Since its founding in 1855, Bates’ doors have been open to women and people of color, setting it apart from the exclusively white- male institutions of its era. As a predominantly white, yet historically inclusive institution Bates is a particularly compelling study of a “white campus.” Most of the existing literature investigates race at predominantly and historically white institutions and focuses on the experiences of students of color on these campuses. In contrast, this thesis investigates white Bates students’ perceptions and awareness of white racial privilege and its impact on their and others’ college experiences. Using quantitative and qualitative data, gathered via a survey distributed to the Bates student body, I quantitatively examine students’ awareness of white privilege in three “clusters:” social privilege, cultural privilege and academic privilege. I qualitatively analyze their awareness by categorizing them as racial deniers, racial minimizers or racially aware. From this vantage point, I propose that white students, although aware that race may impact their college experience, are hesitant to fully acknowledge the extent to which whiteness works to privilege them. This thesis illuminates the tension that exists between Bates’ egalitarian foundation and students’ understanding of the salient role race continues to play on their campus, suggesting that institutional interventions may be warranted. Situated in the broader context of race on college campuses in the United States, this thesis proposes that racial inequity is not isolated to historically exclusive institutions but is instead a broader social issue that extends beyond the boundaries of these campuses.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Kane, Emily

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2015

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 PDF file

Open Access

Available to all.