Promoting the Representation of Historically Disadvantaged Students: What Educational Leaders Need to Know

Promoting the Representation of Historically Disadvantaged Students: What Educational Leaders Need to Know

Ibrahim M. Karkouti (The American University in Cairo, Egypt) and Hazza Abu Rabia (University of Hartford, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7787-4.ch002
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This chapter highlights the importance of diversity, provides an overview of the historical plight that minorities suffered during the formation of the American history, describes the policies that aim at expanding educational opportunities for socially and economically disadvantaged groups, and presents a conceptual framework that guides educational leaders towards creating inclusive campuses. Also, it reports the findings of an empirical investigation that elicited minority students' views regarding the factors that enhance their persistence. Findings from this study could be of primary importance for university administrators and policymakers trying to enhance diversity on campus. The chapter ends with conclusions and recommendations for research and future practice.
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Historical Plight: Timeline

Access to postsecondary education has always been considered as a key pathway for social mobility and the gateway to advancing the socioeconomic status of underprivileged communities (Karkouti, 2016a; Price & Wohlford, 2005; U.S. Department of Education, 2016). Nevertheless, this social mobility has been hampered for minority students who have been historically disadvantaged in postsecondary education (Harper, Patton, & Wooden, 2009). During Civil War, Black students were virtually excluded from higher education and were not allowed to enroll in colleges and universities from 1636 until the 1830s due to government restrictions that furthered institutional racism (Anderson, 2002). Minority students were also denied access to schools because they were viewed as slaves and intellectually inferior from their White peers.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, intellectual and political figures in America and Europe regarded themselves as the creators of human civilization who possess the highest levels of intelligence (Anderson, 2002). More specifically, modern civilized nations were considered as the product of White intellectual superiority who intensified discrimination against African Americans on the grounds of innate intellectual inferiority (Adams, 1995). The same argument also applied against Hispanics in the 1840s and Chinese in the 1850s (McClain, 1994). In conclusion, racism was deeply rooted in the formation of the U.S. history, affecting all types of organizations, including institutions of higher learning.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Minority Students: Historically disadvantaged individuals who belong to a minority group and are currently underrepresented at universities due to their race, culture, religion, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and mental and physical abilities.

Inclusive Campuses: University campuses that promote equal representation of minority faculty, students, and staff.

Higher Education: Post-secondary education at universities and colleges that is geared toward a degree-level diploma.

Persistence: The degree to which students are determined and committed to continuing their studies and earn a college degree.

Multiculturalism: The existence of multiple racial, ethnic, and cultural groups in a community that supports and nurtures their presence.

Diversity: The presence of people who differ in their opinions, political views, race, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, language, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and ability at institutions of higher learning.

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