Date of Award

2016

Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, Ph.D.; Christopher Newman, Ph.D.; Joi Spencer, Ph.D.; Roxanne Kymaani, Ph.D.

Keywords

college students, minority, mixed methods, multiracial

Abstract

Over the last several decades, multiracial populations have received increased attention in academic literature, particularly regarding identity development and psychological health and wellness. Less attention has been given to individuals with one minority and one white parent (i.e., half white individuals) in the context of affirmative action and higher education. Existing quantitative studies on this topic suggest, on the one hand, that half white individuals are likely to be considered members of racial minorities, yet, on the other hand, less of a minority—and less deserving of affirmative action benefits—than monoracial individuals or multiracial individuals with multiple minority identities. College students’ and student affairs professionals’ perspectives on this issue are absent from the literature.

This study used a mixed methods research design to gather college students’ and student affairs professionals’ perspectives of the minority status and minority resource eligibility of half white college students. Data collection occurred in two phases. The first phase entailed interviewing a purposefully selected group of half white college students. In the second phase, quotations from interviews were inserted into a survey that was then distributed to student affairs professionals.

Findings suggest that, despite explicitly articulating their status as racial minorities, my participants’ perceptions of their eligibility for minority-based campus resources were not as clear and reflected some of what the literature review and survey data provided—that there were mitigating circumstances to their eligibility for minority resources. This most often involved being half white and not perceiving themselves to encounter the same levels of racism and oppression as their monoracial peers. Further, participants almost always compared this lack of oppression to that of monoracial students in identity-based centers or groups on campus, such that their monoracial peers in those spaces faced greater levels of oppression. Participants in my study ultimately had to make decisions about their own appropriateness in accessing and using resources meant to assist racial minorities.

When considering the context of minority resource eligibility and the ever-increasing number of self-identifying multiracial students, this study raised ongoing questions about the purpose, framework, and utility of minority-based or race-based student groups and centers on college and university campuses. Additional questions were raised about the extent to which higher education institutions effectively provided resources to multiracial students in the same ways they provided resources to other minority students.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access

Department

Leadership Studies

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