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We Don't See Much Difference Here, so Aren't We Colorblind?

Ellen Rugen, Sarah Dunetz
Ohio Northern University
Communication Arts

A small, private, residential college in rural Ohio remains predominantly white, despite recent emphasis on increasing diversity, including the addition of a Director of Multicultural Development two years ago. Two students ask "Is this college's discursive environment welcoming to non-white individuals?" They apply ethnographic methods to research an answer. As participant-observers, the students are noting conversations and comments they participated in or heard. The result of this collection of observations is a description of the informal environment that students experience at this small, private university. The observations include messages from students, faculty and staff. Some of the people observed will be interviewed. Interviews consist of open-ended questions that elicit feelings from the speaker about the object of comments made. Using narrative analysis approaches, the messages will be sorted and coded for types of responses. The result will be a typology of the messages that comprise the discourse regarding diverse populations at the small college. This descriptive analysis may be useful in identifying components of the social environment at the small college that affect a minority member's decision to attend this university, or, after selecting this university, to stay.

ONU Student Research Colloquium