April 28, 2015

Diversity Benefits Everyone Interview: Angela P. McGlynn

DBE interviews prominent scholars and leaders from around the country and features them on its website. This interview features Ms.  Angela Provitera McGlynn Professor Emeritus, Mercer County Community College.

Angela McGlynn photo

Angela McGlynn

DBE: We understand you’ve written a book to help campuses educate and graduate low income, first generation and students of color. What motivated you to write this book and how will it help campuses do just that?

Angela Provitera McGlynn: Yes, the book is entitled, Envisioning equity: Educating and Graduating Low-income, First-generation, and Minority College Students.  It was published by Atwood Publishing in 2011.  I taught psychology at a community college for 35 years and as most people know, the community college population is very heterogeneous and diverse.  I taught students who were well prepared for college and very bright.  They chose to attend a community college for the first two years primarily because of the lower cost as compared with a four-year institution and because it was close to home.  Many other students were adult learners returning to school to change careers or simply to pursue life-long learning.  And then there were many students who were the first in their families to attend college.  Many were from low-income families and many belonged to minority groups that have been traditionally under-represented in higher education.  I saw in my teaching that this last group – first-generation, low-income, and minority students, populations that often overlap, were at risk for completing their degrees.  I wanted to change their trajectories not only by my teaching but also by pursuing research about institutional factors that would make a difference in terms of their academic success.

My book explains pedagogical strategies for college teachers that promote student success for all students but seem to have an even bigger impact on at-risk students. Additionally, the final third section of the book entitled, “Improving Graduation Rates through Institutional Commitment,” depicts practices, policies, and strategies that can enhance academic success for this population in particular. In fact, I provide a checklist created by Shulock et al. 2010) for how governors, legislatures, P-12 School Boards, Postsecondary Boards and Postsecondary Coordinating Boards could all play a role in promoting student success.   The chapter mentioned above emphasizes the role college administrators can play not only at their own institutions but also in partnering with high schools so as to ensure better preparedness of students to do college-level work. [Read More...]

9-Tips for Working with Culturally Different Students on your Campus by Dr. Charles Taylor

This article contains practical advice for working with students of color on your campus. Faculty, Staff and especially student services personnel should find these tips helpful.

Introduction

Working with culturally different students can be extremely rewarding and transformative. On the other hand for those who have had limited contact with students of color, it can be a challenge that requires sensitivity and vulnerability. Because of the potential for mixed signals, suspicion and misunderstanding, it’s important that care be given to how this interaction is to be structured. While do’s and don’ts are unnecessary, it is important to acknowledge some broad generalizations that may prove helpful when working with students of color. If these guidelines are followed you stand a better chance of creating positive interactions.

Remember that racial minorities are not all the same

Avoid the tendency to lump all minorities together or view them as the same. Much has been written about the recent trend of adopting a ‘color-blind’ approach towards people of different ethnicities. Bonilla-Silva and Forman (2000) analyzed interviews and surveys conducted with white college students to highlight a form of colorblind racism where students continued to hold on to prejudiced views but considered themselves to have moved beyond prejudices by not noticing the color of the person they were talking to.

Color blindness as a long-term societal goal may be a good idea, but as it is presently practiced, is a form of prejudice since it denies people their identity and history. Diverse racial and ethnic groups have a different history in the United States, and therefore traveled very different paths to becoming part of the American Society. Lumping all minorities together is tantamount to stripping them of their collective histories, rich cultural heritage and unique experiences in the contemporary society. Helping students accept differences is more than just teaching tolerance. Practicing diversity is key to our survival as a nation and as a member of the world community. Sensitive college personnel who understand this create practices and cultural programming that respects each group’s unique cultural differences.

Celebrate diversity

Stress cultural pluralism and celebrate diversity while downplaying the notion of the U.S. as a melting pot. When one is expressing the sentiment of ignoring differences, one is generally supporting the melting pot theory. Although European immigrants were encouraged to “melt,” generally racial minorities were not permitted to. It is not surprising that the melting pot concept is rejected by many people of color today. Cultural pluralism or multiculturalism is the concept being embraced by such groups. Gold (1977) offers a reason for this when he writes:

“…multiculturalism equates with the respect shown the varied cultures and ethnic groups which have built the United States and which continue today to contribute to its richness and diversity.”

Multiculturalism recognizes that as Americans we share many things in common, but as hyphenated Americans our lifestyles and values need not be the same. The way we dance, speak, party, dress, etc., can reflect our cultural heritage and need not be considered anti-American. Multiculturalism attempts to make the point that differences are not deficiencies.

Despite the many things we have in common, we also share diverse experiences that may only be common to our “racial group.” Integration in the United States for people of color has been qualitatively different than that of the Anglo immigrants. Johnson (1997) discusses the experiences of Mexican immigrants and coins the term ‘ring of fire’ rather than melting pot to describe the difficulties that Mexican immigrants face in becoming citizens of the United States. Therefore, the U.S. has not been a melting pot for people of all ethnicities and to use that term can be construed as showing a lack of historical knowledge and/or cultural insensitivity.

Avoid stereotyping ALANA groups

Watch for stereotyping in language, in media, and in institutional practices. The way in which ALANA (African, Latino, Asian and Native American) groups are portrayed in the media, whether it be the news or popular films can have a significant impact on how people view that group (Bjornstorm, 2010). In general there is a tendency in the news media to report crime or other negative news due to its newsworthiness (Bjornstorm, 2010). When minorities are over represented in such news stories, the public can be influenced into projecting stereotypical negative attitudes towards the entire group.

It is therefore imperative to step back and help college students develop a more informed and critical perspective on how ALANA groups are portrayed in mass media. One should for instance consider the fact that minorities are generally underrepresented among those who are newsmakers, or hold positions of power and influence in the business of news making, and therefore there is a much greater chance for them to be portrayed negatively (Ungerleider, 1991).

We need to take this notion of stereotyping seriously because it affects the quality of life that students of color experience on predominantly white campuses. Solorzano et al’s (2000) study found that minority students were constantly exposed to subtle indicators of prejudice, in the classroom or with their peers. In social situations students reported that African American functions or gatherings were under greater scrutiny and they were held to a higher standard of following rules and regulations as opposed to white gatherings. Students in the study also reported having to spend more effort not only to perform well, but also to do so while navigating a host of racial stereotypes in almost all settings. Many students admitted to changing or dropping courses because of their inability to cope with the racial micro-aggressions in one form or another. [Read More...]

How to overcome Systemic Resistance to Diversity is greatest need of respondents in a national survey

DIVERSITY SURVEY RESULTS

 The survey was sent to nearly 300 people across the U.S. The intent was to gather input from a national sample about the key diversity issues that campuses were most interested in addressing. Respondents were asked to reply to three questions listed below. Although demographic information of respondents is provided, there was only one answer that produced any significant variance between respondents. That answer is: “How can I overcome my personal challenges” in response to the first question. This was overwhelmingly submitted by white respondents.

All answers were grouped and organized under broad headings. If an answer was repeated multiple times it became a heading so you can assume that all headings were created based on many respondents answering in similar ways. Examples of submitted individual answers that led to these headings is included. The answers are numbered in order of importance based on the number of responses; meaning answer #1 received the most responses, #2 the next highest and so on.

 DEMOGRAPHICS

Male             48%     Female                   52%

Black            45%     White                     42%

Asian            7%       Multiple Races    6%

If you had 20 minutes of a top-notch diversity consultant’s time to help you with anything you want, what would you ask this consultant?

1.      HOW TO OVERCOME SYSTEMIC RESISTANCE TO DIVERSITY

  • How to overcome systemic resistance on topics of diversity and equity?
  • How do I generate belief and trust in the system?
  • How do you get administrators to invest real money into diversity programs and initiatives?
  • Why isn’t there a curriculum requirement to teach African American Studies in all schools and universities in the U.S? [Read More...]