Symposium Examines Student Perceptions of Race Relations at UA

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama is taking a timely look at the history of race relations on campus with a symposium on student perceptions of race relations, featuring historical and contemporary perspectives Wednesday, Nov. 6, in Gorgas Library, room 205, from 1 p.m.-4 p.m.

Speakers will detail student responses to questions of race dating back to the turbulent 1960s, when the University became an integrated campus.

“The original purpose of the symposium was to better understand the progress we’ve made with race relations compared to the early 1960s,” said Dr. Richard Fording, UA professor and chair of political science. “It’s taken on a greater significance in light of recent events.”

The symposium presents and examines the results of a recent survey of the racial attitudes and behavior of more than 4,000 University of Alabama students conducted in January 2013.

This survey is the latest in a series of similar surveys that have been conducted on campus beginning as early as 1963, when The University of Alabama was first integrated. In 1963, two UA sociologists conducted the first of these surveys to measure white students’ attitudes toward the presence of black students on campus.

These surveys were replicated periodically on campus until the late 1980s. Over the years, several articles using these data have been published in major social science journals.

Major changes in the makeup of the student body, as well as in school policy, made this year a good time to re-examine the results of those surveys. This will mark the first time that the 2013 survey results have been publicly presented. In addition to discussing the methodology and implementation of the survey, presenters will address several specific questions about racial attitudes and behavior on campus, such as:

  • How have race relations changed on campus since 1963?
  • To what degree are UA students racially segregated today when it comes to socializing and dating?
  • How do white students’ perceptions of race relations differ from the perceptions of black and other minority students?
  • Is racial prejudice still a problem on campus, and, if so, to what degree?
  • What strategies should be employed to improve race relations on campus?

Speakers include UA alum Dr. Michael Hughes (University of Virginia department of sociology),Dr. Rupert Nacoste (North Carolina State University department of psychology), Dr. Steven Tuch (George Washington University department of sociology), Dr. Celia Lo (UA School of Social Work), Dr. Debra McCallum (UA Institute for Social Science Research), Dr. Utz McKnight (UA department of gender and race studies) and Gabrielle Smith (UA department of psychology).

The symposium is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Institute for Social Science Research, the department of gender and race studies, the department of political science and the School of Social Work.


Bobby Mathews, UA media relations,, 205/348-4956


Dr. Richard Fording,