Student Activism at the Urban Community College

Student Activism at the Urban Community College

Everrett A. Smith
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7274-9.ch007
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Historically, activism has long been a vehicle for student voices to be heard on the American college campus. Specifically for community colleges, student activism dates back to the early 20th century, throughout the 60s, early 70s, and continues today. Most recently, there has been a wave of student protests at community colleges in urban settings, including El Centro College in Dallas, Texas, where a sniper eventually opened fire on on-duty police officers at a rally. Student activism at urban community colleges are plausibly more expected because of the many controversial issues that urban environments produce, including issues around race, gender, crime, and socio-economic inequities. This chapter explores student activism on the urban community college campus during periods of heightened unrest in the United States, and will include an examination of the paradigms that have influenced working with students during these experiences.
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Urban Community Colleges

Specifically among public institutions, many community college students are people of color, or come from underrepresented backgrounds. As of 2014, 44% of community college students were Black/African-American, 56% were Latino/Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander and White/Caucasian students were less likely to be among this demographic, and more likely to attend four-year institutions (Ma & Baum, 2016). These statistics reflect the shift in college attendance among students of color, and depicts a picture that students of color not only desire to attend college, but also, they want to attend affordable institutions in their community. In many cases these students do begin at two-year institutions that are near them because not only are they inexpensive, but students are able to work, help support their families, and stay connected to them. Approximately two thirds of community colleges students attend a community college in an urban or suburban area. The enrollment data for rural community colleges differ as 922 rural community colleges claim 34 percent of the student market which represents 59 percent of the campuses in the community sector (Hardy & Katsinas, 2007). Data suggest that urban community colleges have even more diverse student bodies, and tend to be majority-minority campuses. This is also distinct from rural community colleges, which tend have less ethnic diversity with nearly three-quarters of enrolled students being Caucasian (Hardy & Katsinas, 2007).

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