the effect of interracial college roommates

This is an interesting New York Times article on studies that look at how having a college roommates of a different race can affect one's own racial prejudices: Interracial Roommates Can Reduce Prejudice, Campus Studies Find.

Several recent studies have found that having a roommate of a different race can reduce prejudice, diversify friendships and even boost black students' academic performance. But, the research found, such relationships are more stressful and more likely to break up than same-race pairings.

Some really intriguing data... Several studies have shown that living with a roommate of a different race can affect one's behavior -- even improve academic performance -- and change students' attitudes.

But here's the study that really gets me... One study from UCLA generally found decreased prejudice among students with different-race roommates -- but those who roomed with Asian-Americans, the group that scored the highest on measures of prejudice, became more prejudiced themselves.

What's up with that? Does that mean that Asian students are not only the most prejudiced (how do you measure that?), but we also make our non-Asian roommates more prejudiced? That's rather disturbing. Why is that? The article doesn't really elaborate on that point.

Reading this, I can't help but recall my own freshman dorm situation, in which I was paired with the other Korean guy in the dorm. We got along fine, but it was plain to see that our situation was not coincidence.

And it wasn't just us -- most of the Asians in the dorm (at our not-so-Asian midwestern school) were paired up with other Asians. I guess the housing folks decided to pre-emptively sidestep any racial difference issues that might come up by just sticking all the Asian folks together. Anyway, take a look at the article. It's pretty interesting.

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