Ethnic Student Organizations

Ethnic Student Organizations - The Role of Ethnic Student...

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568 Journal of College Student Development The Role of Ethnic Student Organizations in Fostering African American and Asian American Students’ Cultural Adjustment and Membership at Predominantly White Institutions Samuel D. Museus Over half of all racial/ethnic minority students matriculating at 4-year colleges fail to graduate within 6 years. One explanation for those low graduation rates is minority students’ inability to find membership in the cultures and subcultures of their respective campuses. This study was focused on understanding the role of ethnic student organizations in fostering minority students’ adjustment to and membership in the cultures of a predominantly White institution. Data analyzed from individual interviews conducted with 12 African American and 12 Asian American students indicate that ethnic student organizations constituted critical venues of cultural familiarity, vehicles for cultural expression and advocacy, and sources of cultural validation for participants. Implications for future research and practice are discussed. Approximately half of all students who matriculate at a four-year college or university will fail to complete a bachelor’s degree within 6 years (Berkner, He, & Cataldi, 2002). These low rates of baccalaureate degree attainment are not trivial for individual students or society (Baum & Payea, 2005; Swail, Redd, & Perna, 2003; Tinto, 1993). Those who complete a bachelor’s degree, for example, earn approxi- mately 62% more annually than their high school graduate counterparts (Baum & Payea). Of course, as Davies (2001) articulated, the benefits of educational attainment extend far beyond individual economic gains: Higher education has an enormous re- spon sibility for our society’s well-being. . . . Education determines not only earning capacity but also the very quality of human life. Even longevity is correlated with educational achievement. In the broad sense of how well we live our lives—both individually and collectively —higher education is a public health issue. (p. B16) Moreover, vast disparities in degree attainment exist among different racial/ethnic subpopulations. Whereas 67% of White students who begin college at a four-year institution will earn a baccalaureate degree within 6 years, that figure is approximately 46% and 47% for their Black and Latina/o counterparts, respectively (Berkner et al., 2002). Moreover, although Asian American students, in the aggregate, exhibit relatively high rates of success in college, scholars have noted that the aggregation of data on this population masks drastic differences among Asian Ameri- can subpopulations. Specifically, disparities in attainment persist among those groups, with particular ethnic subgroups receiving post- secondary degrees at rates far lower than their White peers and the national population (Hune, 2002; U.S. Census Bureau, 2004).
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This note was uploaded on 08/07/2011 for the course SOC 164 taught by Professor Aguirre during the Spring '10 term at UC Riverside.

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Ethnic Student Organizations - The Role of Ethnic Student...

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