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THE ABC APPROACH




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B E V E R L Y D A N I E L T A T U M lrt o E 3 o C' 2 o "lf institutions of higher education are able tcr bring together students from various ethnic and racial backgrounds at the critical time of late adolescence and early adulthood, they have the opportunity to disrupt an insidious cycle of lifetime segregation that threatens the fabric of our pluralistic democracy" ( 116). The benefits of engaging diversity are com- pelling, blrt are enough students taking ad- vantage of these formal and informal learning opportunities? The popular perception is that they are not. Newspapers and magazines regu- larly feature stories about the dilemma of so- called "self-segregation" on college campuses. The question, "\Uhy are all the black kids sit- ting together in the cafeteria?" is frequently asked in this context (Thtum 1997). Despite th is percepr i ( )n, there is some evidence that there is more student desire for cross-group in- teraction than a quick glance in the cafeteria may indicate. In a recent study of friendship groups within a diverse campus community, An- thony Lising Antonio (1999) found that while over 90 percent of the 638 third-year students he surveyed reported that students predominantly cluster by race and ethnicity, almost half (46 percent) described their own friendship groups as racially and ethnically mixed with no racial or ethnic group predomi- nating. Clearly these students did not view their own behavior as the norm. In a study of Berkeley undergraduates, Troy Duster (1993) and his associates found that most students express interest in more interra- cial experiences, yet how that interest is ex- pressed varies along racial lines. lVhite stu- As we consider creating climates of englagement, we must be intentional in structurin$ opportunities to cross the long-standing boundaries that separate us in American society THE,ABC APP TO CREATING CLIMATES OF ENGAGEMENT ON DIVERSE CAMPL]SES The Benefits of Englagement Increasingly, faculty, students and administra- tors alike are recognizing the importance of engagement across difference as an essential dimension of preparing the next generation for effective participation in a pluralistic world (AAC&U 1995). This assess' ment of the importance of diversity is sup- ported by a growing body of empirical re- search demonstrating the educational benefits of learning in a diverse community (Hurtado 1999). For example, social psychologist Pat Gurin ( 1999) has found that students who ex- perienced the most racial and ethnic diversity in and out of their classrooms showed the greatest engagement in active thinking processes, growth in intellectual engagement and motivation, and growth in intellectual and academic skills. Moreover. thev showed the most engagement during college in vari- ous forms of citizenship, the most engagement with people from different races and cultures, and were the most likely to acknowledge that group differences are compatible with the in- terests of the broader community. These re- sults persisted beyond graduation. Students with the most diversity experiences during college had the most cross-racial friends, neighbors, and work ...





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