Most Students of Color Feel Unwelcome at Predominantly White Colleges: Survey

The Education Trust asked Black, Latino/a, and Asian American students about their experiences on predominantly white campuses. Most reported isolation, limited support, and lack of streamlined racial incident reporting.
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Published on November 3, 2023
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  • Students reported an underrepresentation of faculty and students of color, lack of mental health counselors of color, and lack of knowledge on reporting racial incidents, according to the Education Trust survey.
  • A BestColleges survey found 75% of current college students support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) on college campuses.
  • Another BestColleges survey found that over half of students would consider transferring if their school dissolved DEI initiatives.

A new survey found that students of color often do not feel welcome at predominantly white institutions (PWIs).

The Education Trust (Ed Trust) last month released a survey asking 32 Black, Latino/a, and Asian American students at PWIs in 15 states about their on-campus experiences.

Students reported isolation, limited support, and distrust in campus leadership to resolve or address racial incidents.

Many of the students shared some of their concerns, including:

  • An underrepresentation of students and faculty of color on campus
  • Limited support and harmful interactions and microaggressions from instructors and police
  • A lack of knowledge on reporting racial incidents
  • A lack of mental health resources like counselors of color

"University leadership must act to address poor campus racial culture, as research consistently shows that students of color's experiences on college campuses significantly affect their sense of belonging, perseverance, and graduation rates," Jessie Hernandez-Reyes, Ed Trust senior policy analyst and report author, said in a press release.

Ed Trust recommended several remedies, including:

  • Increasing the percentage of faculty of color
  • Requiring frequent campus racial climate assessments
  • Efficient racial/ethnic incident reporting
  • Requiring colleges to have substantially funded cultural centers
  • Creating social, academic, and economic support for students of color

"There's been a lot of incidents in classes on campus where white teachers or non-students of color have created racial issues, and [my campus] has continued to really just to look over and continue on with their day," Kevin, a Latino student, said to Ed Trust.

Most Students Support DEI on Campus Despite a National Trend to Abolish It

A recent BestColleges survey found that 75% of current students are generally in favor of efforts supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) on campuses. The majority of students also supported implementing critical discussions of race and gender and sexuality into some coursework at public colleges.

However, colleges like the University of Arkansas and entire states including Texas and Florida are dissolving their DEI departments and practices.

A new BestColleges survey found that more than half of students (55%) would consider transferring if their school abolished DEI initiatives. Hispanic and Latino/a students (60%) and Black students (59%) were most likely to consider transferring compared to white students (52%).