Creating an inclusive, diverse climate to support ethnic minority students is very important for their academic success in higher education. Especially for first year student, an engaging environment will create a sense of belonging greatly enhance the institutional commitment. Colleges and universities have launched a serious of programs to create a safe climate, for example, the Aggies to Aggies workshop in Texas A&M, the Asian American Awareness month in Georgia Tech, and the Diversity Appreciation week in University of California. However, the effectiveness of these programs remains unclear. One of the approaches to assess the effectiveness is to investigate the overall satisfaction level of the diversity climate. There are many factors influencing the satisfaction level, one of them being race. Numerous researchers indicate that students from different racial groups will have difference experience on diversity. This paper is going to conduct a study among first year students, with the purpose to determine the relationship between diversity satisfaction and race.
A number of researchers have examined the relationship between students’ perception and experience of campus climate by their race-ethnicity and fair treatment. Ancis, Sedlacek and Mohr (2000) have conducted a quantitative survey among 578 undergraduates, 307 of them being freshmen, using a Likert-scale to examine eleven constituent factors of diversity satisfaction (e.g. racial tension, cross-cultural comfort, diversity awareness, racial pressures, residence hall tension, fair treatment, faculty racism, respect for other cultures, lack of support, comfort with own culture, overall satisfaction). The result showed that there was a significant difference between white and non-white students on the satisfaction level of diversity. African Americans have more negative experience than other racial groups like Asian American, Latinos and White students. Helm, Sedlace and Prieto (1998) adopted the identical eleven variables to measure satisfaction level as well. Targeting at freshmen and juniors, this research pointed out that student perceptions of diversity were related to overall campus satisfaction, and this relationship was differed by race. Another study also addressed that students from different background would perceive the environment in many different ways, including the climate of diversity (Pascarella, Edison, Nora, Hagedorn & Terenzini, 1996). All of these studies indicated that satisfaction on racial diversity was related to race, yet the author couldn’t find a specific research that focus on the population of first-year students. Therefore, this paper is going to conduct a research among the freshmen, who are sensitive to the diversity climate and whose reactions to fair treatment are crucial in evaluating the satisfaction level.
An anonymous questionnaire was given to 785 first year students studying in the University of...