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Report Finds Low Diversity Impacts Campus Discrimination

A new survey shows that minority students who attend colleges without much diversity are more likely to experience discrimination than those who go to schools with a more balanced student population from various ethnic and underrepresented minority groups.

There were 4,037 underrepresented minority students from 31 public and private colleges, including 3,488 Latinos, 490 African Americans, and 59 Native Americans, as part of the Diverse Learning Environment survey. The results were analyzed in a report, The Climate for Underrepresented Groups and Diversity on Campus, by Sylvia Hurtado and Adriana Ruiz of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA released this summer.

The forms of discrimination varied, but the findings indicate in every category more hospitable climates on the most diverse campuses.

Students who said they were targets of negative verbal comments:
60.4 percent on campuses with low diversity
57.2 percent on moderately diverse campuses
45.8 percent on the most diverse campuses

Students who experienced feelings of exclusion from campus events and activities in peer environments:
45.1 percent on campuses with low diversity
38.2 percent on moderately diverse campuses
28.3 percent on the most diverse campuses

Students who reported witnessing offensive visual images:
32.4 percent on campuses with low diversity
33.6 percent on moderate diverse campuses
22 percent on the most diverse campuses.

In each category, African-American students experienced higher incidents of discrimination or stereotyping than Latinos students.

The authors note that many campuses are unaware of the magnitude of the problems that racial and ethnic minorities face, in part because of unreporting. Nationally, just 13 percent of students report racial incidents to campus authorities.

The report concluded that college is an ideal environment for students to build awareness and appreciation of all students and this is best accomplished in racially and ethnically diverse learning environments.

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