Another University is Possible Educational Satisfaction among African American students at UCSB

Thursday, May 20, 2021

The present study is guided by the following research question: Are African American undergraduate and graduate students alienated at a historically white public university in California and what can be done to dispel those feelings, improve the climate for such students on the campus, and enhance these students’ chances of success?

To answer these questions, our research sought to address a three-tier paradigm ofthe university’s relationship to its students:  (1) lack of inclusion, (2) engagement, and (3) embracement as modalities of student experience. Our study involved fifteen undergraduate students, who self-identified as Black. Results indicate that 13 out of 15 students expressed that they had a sense of belonging, but for different reasons and under different circumstances. When asked to define embracement, student definitions essentially fell into two categories: acceptance and welcoming. When asked directly, “do you feel like this university embraces your needs as a black student,” ten students responded with some version of “no.” Six of those students, however, indicated that although the “institution” did not embrace them, there were individual people and/or organizations like the BSU that embraced them. Additional themes that emerged include a lack of representation of Black students and staff on campus, otherness and how these students are made to feel different or less than, ways the university can be more inclusive.

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