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Minority Serving Institutions as Sites of Ethnoracial Identity Development Among Southeast Asian Students


Students can integrate into their higher education institution through their ethnoracial identity. Although some scholars see attachment to one’s culture and ethnic or racial group as a deficit, it has been suggested that having a positive relationship with one’s ethnic or racial identity is beneficial for students socially and academically. Many studies have looked at development of ethnoracial identity at predominantly white institutions. However, this study examines how Southeast Asian Students use the institution to form or maintain their ethnoracial identity at a predominantly nonwhite Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI) and non-AANAPISI school. I find that students form or maintain their ethnoracial identity using three outlets at both Minority Serving Institutions: 1) Asian American Studies courses or related courses, 2) cultural organizations, and 3) cultural events. Those that used one or more of these outlets were more ethnoracially aware and used less colorblind language. Those that did not use these outlets used more colorblind language and did not see race or ethnicity as an identity that affected them or their peers. I found no differences in the processes among students between these two universities. The AANAPISI designation did not matter in the parameters of this study.

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