Date of Award

5-7-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Janice B. Fournillier, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Philo A. Hutcheson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Joyce E. King, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Donna A. Breault, Ph.D.

Abstract

During a time when most institutions of higher education are in search of underrepresented student participation, Georgia State University (GSU), a majority White institution, has observed a lack of involvement of White students in co-curricular activities. The purpose of the research study was to critically examine White students’ (dis) engagement in traditional student organizations at this university that has a significant student of color population. I used case study methodology that allowed for a breadth of conceptual frameworks and research options. The methods of collecting data included interviews (formal, informal, and oral history) of current and former students, as well as campus administrators. In addition, the use of archived texts and photographs, yearbooks, organization rosters, and university enrollment statistics allowed for crystallization of data, layered interpretations, and document analyses. I used the data sources to interpret GSU White students’ perceptions of campus climate, racial interactions, leadership among students of color, and racial identity that influence their (dis) engagement in traditional student organizations and campus life. In exploring the “rhetoric of diversity,” I argue that the experiences and attitudes of White students can inform the policy debate on institutional mission and offerings.

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