Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
This study expounds upon education research exploring Black students’ experiences at predominantly white institutions (PWIS)—places that often call for diversity but seldom remember the importance of inclusion. Through nine semi-structured interviews with Black students enrolled at Trinity College, the data answers two questions: “How do Black students describe their classroom participation at Trinity College? How does this change when students have attended predominantly white institutions prior to their enrollment at Trinity?” This comparative study reveals that many participants, no matter their previous schooling, felt intimidated by their classmates and feared looking unintelligent. Still, participants explained these feelings in different terms depending on their K-12 schooling. Despite their discomfort or times they felt disrespected, most resolved to participate in order to achieve academically and enlighten their peers. In the most significant moment of disagreement between participants, students with previous experience at predominantly white schools, namely subset one, rarely increased their participation when there was a higher population of students of color in the classroom. Their responses stand in stark contrast to subset two, comprised of students with no previous experience at majority white schools. Further, most participants asserted their participation increased when they had professors of color, particularly Black professors, for students felt seen and truly heard. In moments when participants disengaged from a course, meaning they stopped participating or withdrew from a class entirely, participants explained they met their breaking points, for the racism they experienced was all too much to bear.
Platt, Ayanna, "Immersed in a Sea of Whiteness: How Black Students Describe their Participation at Trinity College". Senior Theses, Trinity College, Hartford, CT 2022.
Trinity College Digital Repository, https://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/theses/976