Date of Award

5-2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

Dorian L. McCoy

Committee Members

Jioni Lewis, Michelle Commander, J. Patrick Biddix

Abstract

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine the experiences of Black women students involved in predominantly White student organizations. Student organizations provide opportunities for college students to connect to their campuses outside of the classroom. A majority of the research that exists on Black women within student affairs practices has focused on their experiences as undergraduate students at predominantly White Institutions (PWIs). While these studies have provided context and insights regarding the experiences of Black women students at PWIs in general, they did not speak specifically to the nuanced experience of organizational and power structures within settings like predominantly White student organizations. This study addressed this gap in the literature by describing the lived experiences of Black undergraduate women who were involved in predominantly White student organizations. The findings illuminate five major themes that articulate the experiences of Black women: exclusion, fake inclusion, racialized experiences, the “double minority” experience, and be stronger work harder.The theoretical framework for this study was Black Feminist Thought (BFT). Through the lens of BFT, this study provided context to the oppressive nature of predominantly White student organizations. The four domains of BFT were juxtaposed among the five major themes of this study in order to conceptualize the nature of oppression that Black collegiate women encounter in predominantly White student organizations. This study highlighted the ways in which Black women experienced predominantly White student organizations and the forms of resistance that they employed throughout their involvement in predominantly White student organizations. The findings of this study also revealed Black women’s encounters with gendered racism in predominantly White student organizations. Finally, this qualitative study shared the impact of the findings on the current body of research related to Black women and how the findings from this study can inform the practices of student affairs professionals who work with predominantly White student organizations.

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