Segregation and Integration at Wes: Results

So, you’re all on finals craziness schedule, right?

As promised, here are the preliminary results of my “Segregation and Integration at Wesleyan University” survey. There’s no confusing statistical analysis here, just straightforward graphs that give a sense of how students responded.

For people who did not take the survey, here’s a quick summary of what it was about:

There were two pages of questions, one page asking about how much segregation and integration each survey taker perceived there to be on campus, and another page asking about whether they would like to see more or less segregation on campus. The types of segregation/integration included in the survey were those based on gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation, international/non-international status, and religion. Each participant was asked to think about these bases of segregation/integration in the following four areas of campus life: housing, academics, extracurricular activities, and social life.

The results for gender and religion indicated that most students generally see the campus as integrated along those lines and that the majority of students see no need for change in those levels of segregation and integration. That’s why I’ll only include here the results for ethnic background, sexual orientation, and international/non-international status. There will be very little commentary accompanying these graphs, except to clarify certain things. What I’m really interested in is your reaction to these results and how they relate to your feelings about segregation and integration on campus more generally.

Each graph pair below shows perceived segregation/integration for ethnic background, sexual orientation, and international/non-international status, as well as what respondents indicated as ideal levels of segregation (i.e., more, less, or no change):

ETHNIC BACKGROUND

SEXUAL ORIENTATION

INTERNATIONAL/NON-INTERNATIONAL

A few notes:

1) The total number of respondents who completed the survey was 160. My hope in putting this survey online and doing almost no outside advertising was to get a relatively representative sample of the larger undergraduate population. It is almost impossible to get a truly representative sample in any study, but I figure it’s important to highlight two possible sources of sampling bias. One possible source is the demographics of Wesleying’s readership (i.e., who had access to the survey) and another is self-selection of respondents (as with any online survey).

2) This survey had broad social categories that could be problematic for a few reasons. Many respondents indicated that they would have liked to have seen the categories broken into smaller ones. Some examples of how they would have liked the categories broken down are 1) male and female for sexual orientation and 2) different races/ethnicities for ethnic background. Some also mentioned “ablebodiedness”/”disabilities” as something to explore, which is also a really good suggestion.

3) Several respondents mentioned that they would have liked for socioeconomic status to be one of the factors looked at. Unfortunately, I can’t go back and include it, but I think that would be a great topic to discuss in the comments.

4) Many respondents indicated that they believed program housing to be a major contributor to segregation on campus. While I have never lived in a program house, it is my understanding that identity-based program housing can be an incredibly powerful form of social support for people who feel otherwise marginalized. In those instances, segregation would not be understood as “bad,” but as quite beneficial. However, I have no authority to speak about the experiences of program house residents. It would be great to actually hear from people who live or have lived in program housing.

Here are some things that came up in the open-ended portion of my survey that I think make great questions for discussion:

1) What do you think drives segregation?

2) Who self-segregates? Is it always minorities (racial/ethnic, religious, non-heterosexual, etc)?

3 Do you consider segregation a problem or something that needs to be reduced? Why or why not?

4) What role have you played in making our campus more or less segregated or integrated?

28 thoughts on “Segregation and Integration at Wes: Results

  1. soc major

    Segregation versus integration. I am annoyed when people assume just because all the colored kids hang out together this is segregation. I am Dominican but when people meet me they assume I am black, African, Indian, or mixed. So they assume many things about my background. Always stereotyping me. Being at Wesleyan was a tough experience. I was the minority in many spears on campus. I felt belitted in many ways. However I did not let it phase me. At the end of the day I was there to complete my BA and graduate. It wasn’t easy being as Wes because at times I overworked myself to the bone. Meaning I was working, studying and being politically and socially involved on campus. I will say that Wesleyan is a microcosm of what will occur in the real world after you graduate. My identity is something I can’t change but when someone challenges me I politely challenge them back. We live in an imperfect society. Nothing can be perfect but I do support program housing and many of the things Wesleyan has set up to allow students to explore differences and learn about themselves in the process. It is not an easy process at all. However college is a time to have this type of growth if you did not have it while in high school, middle school, elementary school or even in your own home. Race, class, religion, gender..these are all realistic things that divide us but also can unite us. I hope students at Wesleyan continue to have these difficult conversations instead of getting mad at each other and continuing to harbor hate and tension amongst the student body.

  2. soc major

    Segregation versus integration. I am annoyed when people assume just because all the colored kids hang out together this is segregation. I am Dominican but when people meet me they assume I am black, African, Indian, or mixed. So they assume many things about my background. Always stereotyping me. Being at Wesleyan was a tough experience. I was the minority in many spears on campus. I felt belitted in many ways. However I did not let it phase me. At the end of the day I was there to complete my BA and graduate. It wasn’t easy being as Wes because at times I overworked myself to the bone. Meaning I was working, studying and being politically and socially involved on campus. I will say that Wesleyan is a microcosm of what will occur in the real world after you graduate. My identity is something I can’t change but when someone challenges me I politely challenge them back. We live in an imperfect society. Nothing can be perfect but I do support program housing and many of the things Wesleyan has set up to allow students to explore differences and learn about themselves in the process. It is not an easy process at all. However college is a time to have this type of growth if you did not have it while in high school, middle school, elementary school or even in your own home. Race, class, religion, gender..these are all realistic things that divide us but also can unite us. I hope students at Wesleyan continue to have these difficult conversations instead of getting mad at each other and continuing to harbor hate and tension amongst the student body.

  3. should be finishing my senior essay

    I don’t think students should be forced to integrate and recognize the value of hanging out with people like oneself to help one’s identity formation, but at the same time, there is value in interacting and building relationships with people different from you…if only in the practical sense because when we leave the Wes bubble we won’t necessarily always be around people like us. Having the ability to work with and deal with people different from us and to appreciate oneself and another just as they are, differences included, is a good skill to have…if only in the workplace. It would be a shame if students miss out on the opportunity to build relationships and develop these skills while they’re at Wes when having a social life is so easy compared to in the real world (so I’ve heard). Make the most of the time you have with people at Wes. It’s a special place and time in life and it goes by quickly—this is coming from a cheesy senior.

    If segregation is recognized as a problem, I think an important question to ask is what can be done about it, not only what has been done. I agree with “procrastinating” that program housing need not form self-segregating communities and has a lot of potential to serve the student body and contribute to student life (in addition to building up smaller communities) but has much room for improvement. Changes in reslife programming policy can address this issue. For example, incentives for integration such as if 3+ groups are involved in the making of a program, this program can count for 2 programs. Also, reslife does not encourage program houses to engage and /or partner with upperclassmen, which is a shame because issues and interests don’t disappear when you become and upperclassman. There can also be incentives like unity awards…..

    One frustration I’ve had with student groups in general is that I could put all this effort in advertising something but I’m ultimately limited in my ability to engage the campus no matter how awesome my program is because my social circles consist of the people in the groups that I’m in. I’ve also made the mistake of trying to do everything myself and burning out. I’m referring to my sophomore slump experience here…and program house residents are mostly sophomores, who some people say run the school. Don’t mean to say that every sophomore goes through this but it happens…Also, if I wasn’t so busy trying to make my programs and whatnot I might actually have had more time to go to other people’s programs….

    Anyway, I guess I’m saying that sometimes less is more and people need to work together and the administration can and should play a role in fostering the well-being of students.

  4. should be finishing my senior

    I don’t think students should be forced to integrate and recognize the value of hanging out with people like oneself to help one’s identity formation, but at the same time, there is value in interacting and building relationships with people different from you…if only in the practical sense because when we leave the Wes bubble we won’t necessarily always be around people like us. Having the ability to work with and deal with people different from us and to appreciate oneself and another just as they are, differences included, is a good skill to have…if only in the workplace. It would be a shame if students miss out on the opportunity to build relationships and develop these skills while they’re at Wes when having a social life is so easy compared to in the real world (so I’ve heard). Make the most of the time you have with people at Wes. It’s a special place and time in life and it goes by quickly—this is coming from a cheesy senior.

    If segregation is recognized as a problem, I think an important question to ask is what can be done about it, not only what has been done. I agree with “procrastinating” that program housing need not form self-segregating communities and has a lot of potential to serve the student body and contribute to student life (in addition to building up smaller communities) but has much room for improvement. Changes in reslife programming policy can address this issue. For example, incentives for integration such as if 3+ groups are involved in the making of a program, this program can count for 2 programs. Also, reslife does not encourage program houses to engage and /or partner with upperclassmen, which is a shame because issues and interests don’t disappear when you become and upperclassman. There can also be incentives like unity awards…..

    One frustration I’ve had with student groups in general is that I could put all this effort in advertising something but I’m ultimately limited in my ability to engage the campus no matter how awesome my program is because my social circles consist of the people in the groups that I’m in. I’ve also made the mistake of trying to do everything myself and burning out. I’m referring to my sophomore slump experience here…and program house residents are mostly sophomores, who some people say run the school. Don’t mean to say that every sophomore goes through this but it happens…Also, if I wasn’t so busy trying to make my programs and whatnot I might actually have had more time to go to other people’s programs….

    Anyway, I guess I’m saying that sometimes less is more and people need to work together and the administration can and should play a role in fostering the well-being of students.

  5. whatshername

    @ Terd,

    I was able to compare the responses of 31 students of color to the 100+ white students, and SOC’s did generally find more segregation based on ethnic background and were also the only ones who said they would like the see MORE segregation (for this question). 31 is kind of a small number, but anyway that’s what the results show. I haven’t tested for statistical significance.

    I did the same thing for heterosexual and students who did not identify as hetero or straight (only 16) but the same pattern emerged. The non-hetero students also saw more segregation based on sexual orientation on campus at least in extra currics and social life. However, 16 is a bit too small a number to really extrapolate from.

  6. whatshername

    @ Terd,

    I was able to compare the responses of 31 students of color to the 100+ white students, and SOC’s did generally find more segregation based on ethnic background and were also the only ones who said they would like the see MORE segregation (for this question). 31 is kind of a small number, but anyway that’s what the results show. I haven’t tested for statistical significance.

    I did the same thing for heterosexual and students who did not identify as hetero or straight (only 16) but the same pattern emerged. The non-hetero students also saw more segregation based on sexual orientation on campus at least in extra currics and social life. However, 16 is a bit too small a number to really extrapolate from.

  7. stefi

    “blah,” you are probably somebody who’s never been alienated because of race/ethnicity/sexual orientation and that is why you think that it doesn’t matter. i wish it did not matter but it does.

    and TERD — that’s EXACTLY what i think!! right on.

  8. stefi

    “blah,” you are probably somebody who’s never been alienated because of race/ethnicity/sexual orientation and that is why you think that it doesn’t matter. i wish it did not matter but it does.

    and TERD — that’s EXACTLY what i think!! right on.

  9. blah

    everyone pays so much goddamn attention to ethnicity and sexual orientation and blah blah blah. who the fuck cares what anyone else is? we’re all fucking people and when you make a big deal about each others differences you’re only enforcing that segregation

  10. blah

    everyone pays so much goddamn attention to ethnicity and sexual orientation and blah blah blah. who the fuck cares what anyone else is? we’re all fucking people and when you make a big deal about each others differences you’re only enforcing that segregation

  11. terd bergler

    I don’t really know how useful or interesting this survey is. I mean, who is going to say they want a more segregated academic life? I think one way this survey could have been more interesting would be to focus on one particular basis for segregation (race, gender, sexual orientation) and then include the responders status in the results. Do students of color consider the campus to be more or less segregated than white students? Do men or women consider this a bigger problem? These to me are more interesting than what we see here which tells us three things, basically:

    1)People think there is a problem, mostly.
    2)People wish the problem was solved.

  12. terd bergler

    I don’t really know how useful or interesting this survey is. I mean, who is going to say they want a more segregated academic life? I think one way this survey could have been more interesting would be to focus on one particular basis for segregation (race, gender, sexual orientation) and then include the responders status in the results. Do students of color consider the campus to be more or less segregated than white students? Do men or women consider this a bigger problem? These to me are more interesting than what we see here which tells us three things, basically:

    1)People think there is a problem, mostly.
    2)People wish the problem was solved.

  13. Paolo

    If we’re going to look at the self-segregating dynamics of program housing, we need to remember that it’s not only the identity-based houses that self-segregate. There are plenty of program houses that not only have all-white residents, but who attract a population that’s mostly white, too.

  14. Paolo

    If we’re going to look at the self-segregating dynamics of program housing, we need to remember that it’s not only the identity-based houses that self-segregate. There are plenty of program houses that not only have all-white residents, but who attract a population that’s mostly white, too.

  15. procrastinating

    You should include the units on the y axis of the graph. Also, I thought this was a really cool survey and find this subject really interesting, especially with respect to the concerns about programming housing.

    I think that the variety of program housing available on campus is one of the strengths of our generally strong housing as compared to other schools. The problem with program housing is that the communities end of fairly self contained despite their goals of bringing their theme to the general public of the campus. Program Houses should be active social hubs for whatever they are supposed to be supporting and bringing to the greater Wesleyan community. Unfortunately, even the program halls in the nics and hewitts remain physically closed to the public. Also, most students don’t seem that interested in attending the programming put on by these houses which in turn decreases their motivation to put on fun programs. The end effect is that these communities seem to become more isolated than integrated with Wesleyan.

    I think…

  16. procrastinating

    You should include the units on the y axis of the graph. Also, I thought this was a really cool survey and find this subject really interesting, especially with respect to the concerns about programming housing.

    I think that the variety of program housing available on campus is one of the strengths of our generally strong housing as compared to other schools. The problem with program housing is that the communities end of fairly self contained despite their goals of bringing their theme to the general public of the campus. Program Houses should be active social hubs for whatever they are supposed to be supporting and bringing to the greater Wesleyan community. Unfortunately, even the program halls in the nics and hewitts remain physically closed to the public. Also, most students don’t seem that interested in attending the programming put on by these houses which in turn decreases their motivation to put on fun programs. The end effect is that these communities seem to become more isolated than integrated with Wesleyan.

    I think…

  17. C. Carpenter

    People are naturally drawn to people like themselves, and this is determined by factors including race, sex, socioeconomic backgrounds, etc…It is not wrong, it is a way for humans to create a safe space in which they can share and use similar experiences to survive and create a comfortable niche within their environment. I know many individuals on campus disagree with the ideas of program houses but personally, I have come to see the benefits of program houses as safe spaces.
    I recall being in a class once and someone mentioned that there were no ‘unsafe spaces’ on campus. Well, it’s hard to see unsafe spaces if you form a part of the majority and hence will not be able to have a minority perspective. By saying this I dont mean to belittle anyones experience since people can fall into both majority and minority categories based on different groups they identify with.
    Anyways, Im rambling and I really have a lot of opinions about topics of segregration. I guess my overall point is, segregation is normal. The point is, people need to realize when their social groups form exclusive entities which are harmful and threatening to others. The question is then what do ‘threatening’ and ‘harmful’ mean since the terms are subjective. My philosophy in life is simply to try to be as open as possible and hope that people arent threatened by social groups I identify with. If they are, there is so much I can do to alleviate the situation and that’s a part of life.

  18. C. Carpenter

    People are naturally drawn to people like themselves, and this is determined by factors including race, sex, socioeconomic backgrounds, etc…It is not wrong, it is a way for humans to create a safe space in which they can share and use similar experiences to survive and create a comfortable niche within their environment. I know many individuals on campus disagree with the ideas of program houses but personally, I have come to see the benefits of program houses as safe spaces.
    I recall being in a class once and someone mentioned that there were no ‘unsafe spaces’ on campus. Well, it’s hard to see unsafe spaces if you form a part of the majority and hence will not be able to have a minority perspective. By saying this I dont mean to belittle anyones experience since people can fall into both majority and minority categories based on different groups they identify with.
    Anyways, Im rambling and I really have a lot of opinions about topics of segregration. I guess my overall point is, segregation is normal. The point is, people need to realize when their social groups form exclusive entities which are harmful and threatening to others. The question is then what do ‘threatening’ and ‘harmful’ mean since the terms are subjective. My philosophy in life is simply to try to be as open as possible and hope that people arent threatened by social groups I identify with. If they are, there is so much I can do to alleviate the situation and that’s a part of life.

  19. j. b.

    As a person of mixed race who was adopted and raised by white parents, part of the reason I chose to attend Wesleyan was because I was incredibly excited about the prospect of meeting other students from equally complex backgrounds. I thought that as a person who identifies partially with several different ethnicities I would be in the company of others who self-identified similarly. However, I found that Wesleyan has very strict divisions along ethnic lines and that I was excluded from really participating with student of color groups because I am just not enough of a minority by their standards. Being the only minority in all of my extended family as well as one of very few minorities in my highschool, I have experienced lots of stereotyping and judgement based on my ethnicity but none of that seems to matter here because my adoptive parents are white and therefore I am to be categorized as an outsider by fellow students of color.

  20. j. b.

    As a person of mixed race who was adopted and raised by white parents, part of the reason I chose to attend Wesleyan was because I was incredibly excited about the prospect of meeting other students from equally complex backgrounds. I thought that as a person who identifies partially with several different ethnicities I would be in the company of others who self-identified similarly. However, I found that Wesleyan has very strict divisions along ethnic lines and that I was excluded from really participating with student of color groups because I am just not enough of a minority by their standards. Being the only minority in all of my extended family as well as one of very few minorities in my highschool, I have experienced lots of stereotyping and judgement based on my ethnicity but none of that seems to matter here because my adoptive parents are white and therefore I am to be categorized as an outsider by fellow students of color.

  21. I.J.

    I would have loved to take this survey because I have strong feelings about segregation on this campus. As a person of color, I feel like the community of color can be very exclusive, even to those who would like to be included. The results of the second graph show that other people think like me and want less segregation on this campus. I agree with the fourth point about program housing being a safe place for people and that includes clubs and whatnot that group based on ethnicity/sexual orientation/religion, but to what extent are these groupings harmful to the student body as a whole? When does the need to feel safe become a desire to exclude others?

  22. I.J.

    I would have loved to take this survey because I have strong feelings about segregation on this campus. As a person of color, I feel like the community of color can be very exclusive, even to those who would like to be included. The results of the second graph show that other people think like me and want less segregation on this campus. I agree with the fourth point about program housing being a safe place for people and that includes clubs and whatnot that group based on ethnicity/sexual orientation/religion, but to what extent are these groupings harmful to the student body as a whole? When does the need to feel safe become a desire to exclude others?

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