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ERIC Number: ED559533
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 221
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3033-0356-2
Undergraduate Latina/o Student Organizations: A Latina/o Critical Theory Analysis
Cruz, Jessica
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Teachers College, Columbia University
Latina/o college enrollment is on the rise, but degree attainment continues to be an obstacle. In fact, Latin@s continue to hold the lowest levels of educational attainment (Fry, 2011). Therefore, it is important to better understand factors impacting their higher education journey. One of these factors includes involvement in registered student organizations. Hence, the purpose of this study is to explore the role of Latin@ student organizations (LSOs) in the experiences of Latin@s in higher education as perceived by current and former Latin@ students as well as current faculty and staff at a predominantly White institution. To this end, interview, survey, focus group, observation, and document data were used to answer the following research questions: (1) What are the internal dynamics of undergraduate LSOs? (2) Why do certain Latin@ students choose to participate in LSOs while others do not? and (3) How does LSO involvement foster or hinder Latin@ students' journey through higher education as perceived by current and former students as well as current faculty and staff? Results indicate that current and former Latin@ students as well as current faculty and staff mainly view LSOs as spaces of cultural, emotional, social, professional and academic support. In fact, 92% of survey respondents viewed LSOs as a "home away from home," and interview data showed how LSOs created spaces to vent about racism or share academic and professional resources. LSOs thus functioned as counterspaces, or spaces where stereotypes could be challenged while creating a nurturing environment and an increased sense of belonging, which the higher education literature shows are associated with higher student retention and graduation rates. However, findings also highlighted difficulties associated with LSO involvement, such as mitigating negative stereotypes associated with LSO involvement (especially Latin@ sorority or fraternity membership), accusations of self-segregation, or Latin@ intragroup relations. Guided by a Latin critical theory (LatCrit) framework, this study contributes to research on Latin@ college students and counterspaces with implications for Latin@ student retention and graduation rates at predominantly White institutions in the Midwest. Ultimately, this study suggests that LSOs be further studied and intentionally used as culturally relevant tools of retention. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A