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Exploring effects of institutional, interpersonal, & individual communication on university students’ attitudes about diversity and institutional belongingness
University campuses are critical spaces where the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in society are discussed, debated, and understood. However, even as campus communities in the US and elsewhere grow more diverse, higher education institutions are facing an existential crisis–high dropout rates, low enrollments, growing disenchantment with education, and issues of otherization and racism on campus. It has never been more necessary for administrators, faculty, staff and all stakeholders to understand the role of effective institutional, intergroup, and individual communication in increasing students’ sense of university belongingness, and positively affecting their attitudes towards ‘others’. Using the lens of systems theory and intergroup contact theory, this study analyzes how institutional, interpersonal, and individual level factors affect college students’ attitudes about diversity, and their university belongingness. An online survey of 434 students from a midsized public university in the U.S., indicated that specific institutional communication strategies, intergroup interactions between faculty and students, as well as individual experiences such as microaggressions, significantly affected student attitudes about diversity, and their sense of campus belongingness. Results highlighted both areas of hope, as well as key challenges for higher education administrators. Implications, including recommendations for student success, greater intercultural collaboration, and creating a more inclusive campus community, are discussed.
Suggested citationChattopadhyay, D. (2022). Exploring effects of institutional, interpersonal, & individual communication on university students' attitudes about diversity and institutional belongingness. Intercultural Communication Education, 5(2), 39–58. https://doi.org/10.29140/ice.v5n2.627