Interracial Interaction of College Students from High School to College and their Perceptions of Campus

Paul Smith, Alicia M. Helion*, Alan K. Mock*
Lakeland College, Manitowoc, Wisconsin

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Abstract This research explored the relationship between interracial interactions of students from high school to college. College students’ perception of their campus was also measured. The benefits of interracial interaction for college students are discussed.

Introduction Ethnic and racial diversity have been and will continue to increase throughout the United States, its workplace, and its academic environments. The academic realms, specifically colleges and universities, can provide a diverse environment and educational benefits to every individual and thus for society. Studies have found that students who had more interracial interaction during college were more likely to have positive ethnic attitudes at the end of college (Levin, Van Laar, & Sidanius, 2003). It is important to understand how much interracial interaction is occurring on campus and how students perceive the campus environment and its efforts to promote cultural diversity. A primary purpose of this exploratory study was to evaluate these issues for black and white students in the college environment, specifically in the small liberal arts school environment. Experiencing and/or witnessing discrimination can create a stressful learning environment for students who perceive that racism exists in the college environment. For example, greater experiences with racism and discrimination were associated with poorer psychological functions and retention of black students (Bynum, Burton, & Best 2007).

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