Learning to be Latino: How Colleges Shape Identity Politics
Daisy Reyes, University of California Merced
Colleges matter not only because they shape students’ job prospects, but also because they influence who, in a broader sense, students may become, shaping their understandings of themselves, their futures, and the world. We know that college campuses have very different organizational cultures, which shape students’ experiences in distinct ways. Institutional prestige receives a lot of attention, yet colleges vary along many other dimensions—all of which can affect students. For example, schools have different peer cultures, party scenes, athletic emphases, racial-ethnic climates, and political cultures. Some campuses enclose their students’ lives in a bubble for four years, offering an all-encompassing student life experience, while other schools enroll commuters with a very different relationship to the institution. How do these differences in campus climate play out for Latinos? Reyes explores how students learn particular and unique lessons at their college about what it means to be Latino on campus and in America; these lessons about identity are critical, as they inform understandings and strategies of how to best engage in collective action to advocate for change.
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