Sociologists generally agree that underrepresented students in the higher education classroom navigate a different classroom than their white and affluent counterparts, due to the implications of classroom inequality and varying social backgrounds. This study explores the manifestation of inequality and unequal experiences of minority students in the remote classroom after the pandemic forced colleges and universities to transition students into online classes. Through qualitative interviews with students who were freshman and sophomores at a small predominantly white college during the spring of 2020, this study finds that underrepresented students experienced classroom inequality on the basis of the unequal resources available to them in underprivileged households as they struggled to establish productive academic atmospheres without the economic and cultural means to. Minority students also experienced hypervisibility online due to their racial identities and symbolic displays of their low socioeconomic statuses that were visible from their cameras on Zoom. Despite their unequal experiences in the online classroom, this study highlights the navigational strategies in which students reclaimed agency as they appeased their discomfort during remote learning by utilizing digital distance, through muting microphones and cameras, to their advantage.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Alex Manning

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.