Welcoming Ain't Belonging: A Case Study that Explores How Two-year Predominantly White Colleges Can Foster an Environment of Validation and Mattering for Men of Color

  •  Patrick Turner    
  •  Efren Miranda Zepeda    


The qualitative case study explored the factors that foster an atmosphere of belonging for men of color (MOC) attending a 2-year Predominantly White Institution. The pressing issue is that PWI colleges make the erroneous assumption that an extension or invitation of welcome is the same as fostering a sense of belonging for men of color (MOC). This led colleges to construct policies and practices that do not intentionally and deliberately create an atmosphere where MOC feel valued, validated, and visible. According to Maestas, Vaquera, and Zehr (2007), fostering a sense of belonging is paramount to the retention and graduation of students of color. The study surfaced three central themes: (a) experiencing an atmosphere of welcome, (b) desire for cultural representation and celebration (c) importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training. Though most colleges boast of creating a sense of belonging, the National Center for Education Statistics (2019) reports 25% of men of color graduate from a community college within 150 % or three-years of normal time. Additionally, the Community College Survey of Men (CCSM) reports a lack of validation, engagement, and high attrition rate for men of color attending these institutions (Harris & Wood, 2013). This can be problematic considering the majority of men of color began their academic journey by attending 2-year colleges. Community and 2-year colleges are critical to the educational system and positioned to improve access and equity for students of color, particularly males (Bailey, Jaggars, & Jenkins, 2015).

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