KSU study reveals trials of black males on campus

Mariana Silva

Graduate student Dametraus Jaggers wasn’t surprised by the results of a study he conducted last fall.

Yesterday, alongside his research adviser Susan Iverson, assistant professor of foundation, leadership and administration, Jaggers presented his findings.

“Addressing the Crisis: Supporting African American Males at Predominately White Institutions,” an event of the Soup and Substance Dialogue Series, exposed the barriers black students have to overcome when pursuing a college education.

The results of the research comes from four focus groups conducted last fall when Jaggers and Iverson interviewed 23 black and three Latino male students about their experiences and perceptions with staff, faculty and programs at Kent State.

Jaggers said he wanted to speak with black, Latino and Native American students, but he wasn’t able to find a large population of Latino and Native American students on campus.

“Diversity is the mission statement,” Jaggers said, “but for students, where is diversity?”

The researchers believe Kent State is missing out on opportunities to create a more diverse community. Students in the focus groups pointed out the lack of student organizations and programs to get students to interact with other ethnicities.

In the focus groups, students talked about how some activities seem to bring only Caucasian, black, Asian or Latino students. They also told the researchers how they felt “out of the box” in the residence halls, and how sometimes they believed they were perceived differently by professors and staff.

Students also said that often when they walk to a classroom they expect to be the only black male there. During a focus group, a student told the researchers a professor told him that, giving his background, he was surprised he was getting an A for the class.

“His presentation was extremely powerful in bringing how African American males feel about being on campus and about stereotyping,” said Shana M. Lee, Student Multicultural Center director.

Lee said she has heard of students with the same issues pointed out in the presentation. She said college is already a struggle to many students, but stereotyping and different treatment impacts the students’ transition to college even more.

Jaggers and Iverson said they believe the solution for the issues black male students face is making connections with other students and learning from other people. Iverson said it is also a challenge to get Caucasian students to realize that making these connections is also their responsibility.

“ I think if we start this discussion and if we start talking about it,” Jaggers said, “we will be creating a sense of awareness … and increase the consciousness of these issues.”

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Mariana Silva at [email protected].