Campus Location

Abilene Campus

Date of Award

Summer 7-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Communication

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Committee Chair

Jonathan Camp

Second Committee Member

Lauren Lemley

Third Committee Member

Stephanie Hamm

Abstract

Although student organizations have the potential to significantly contribute to the diversity efforts of predominantly White institutions (PWI), colleges continue to undermine the value of these organizations (Kuk & Banning, 2010). Ethnic student organizations, specifically the students who lead them, can play a crucial role in promoting diversity and inclusion on college campuses yet few studies examine their role in institutional diversity efforts. This study explores the perceptions of student leaders of ethnic or minority student organizations enrolled in a four year predominantly White, Christian university to better understand how they perceive their university’s diversity efforts and their own role within these efforts. The study asks the following research questions: (1) How do student leaders of ethnic student organizations perceive institutional diversity efforts at a faith-based, predominantly White university? (2) How do student leaders of ethnic student organizations perceive their role in institutional diversity efforts at a faith-based, predominantly White university? Using a phenomenological approach, semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine ethnic student organization leaders at a faith-based PWI. Findings reveal that ethnic student organization leaders hold mixed perceptions of institutional diversity efforts. Some participants are optimistic about the university’s efforts while others are either unaware of the university’s diversity efforts or believe the university is not doing enough to create a more diverse and inclusive campus. Student leaders’ perceptions are frequently impacted by a challenging campus climate, which often includes experiences of marginality or “otherness.” Furthermore, ethnic student organization leaders perceive their role as helpful and salient to promoting diversity and inclusion on their campus.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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