Research Publication Title

How Cultural Centers Impact Sense of Belonging on College Campuses

Presenter Information

Dacia Danielle BrownFollow

Major

Sociology

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Stephanie McClure

Keywords

cultural centers, race, pre-dominantly white institutions, college campus, diversity

Abstract

On college campuses, race plays a big role in influencing students’ sense of belonging and experiences, especially for minority races at pre-dominantly white institutions, or PWIs (Museus, Saelua, & Yi 2018). One of the difficulties students of color face at PWIs is experiences of isolation and marginalization. In order for people to thrive in societies, they must feel a sense of belonging within a community (Tinto 1997). One potential solution to this issue is the utilization of cultural centers on campus (Clauson & McKnight 2018; McShay 2017). To further understand how cultural centers impact student experiences, I completed an internship at the Cultural Center on the Georgia College campus, where I worked closely with the director of the Cultural Center to facilitate events on campus that brought awareness to diversity and cultural-inclusivity. During my internship, I listened to many students of color express their frustration with their interactions on campus with other students and professors, which contributed to feeling out of place and misunderstood. This paper examines the role and function of cultural centers, in addition to evaluating their effectiveness and offering best practices for creating a sense of belonging for students of color on campus.

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How Cultural Centers Impact Sense of Belonging on College Campuses

On college campuses, race plays a big role in influencing students’ sense of belonging and experiences, especially for minority races at pre-dominantly white institutions, or PWIs (Museus, Saelua, & Yi 2018). One of the difficulties students of color face at PWIs is experiences of isolation and marginalization. In order for people to thrive in societies, they must feel a sense of belonging within a community (Tinto 1997). One potential solution to this issue is the utilization of cultural centers on campus (Clauson & McKnight 2018; McShay 2017). To further understand how cultural centers impact student experiences, I completed an internship at the Cultural Center on the Georgia College campus, where I worked closely with the director of the Cultural Center to facilitate events on campus that brought awareness to diversity and cultural-inclusivity. During my internship, I listened to many students of color express their frustration with their interactions on campus with other students and professors, which contributed to feeling out of place and misunderstood. This paper examines the role and function of cultural centers, in addition to evaluating their effectiveness and offering best practices for creating a sense of belonging for students of color on campus.