Revolutionary Acts of Collective-Preservation: A Longitudinal Investigation of Ethnic Fit, Friendships, and Civic Engagement Among Latinx Undergraduates

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Quiles, Taina, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Leath, Seanna, Psychology, University of Virginia

Although Latinx undergraduates’ access to college is steadily improving in the United States, those who enroll in predominantly White institutions (PWIs) tend to have a poor sense of belonging due to interpersonal discrimination and peer rejection. In response, some Latinx undergraduates participate in civic engagement to confront racial discrimination and foster a sense of belonging. Yet, few scholars have examined how the racial composition of Latinx undergraduates’ friendship groups relates to the nature of their civic engagement on campus. The following study sought to address this gap by examining how Latinx undergraduates’ ethnic racial identity (ERI) at the beginning of college, as well as the friendships and perceived ethnic fit/threat they develop on campus related to their participation in civic engagement at the end of their first year (N = 313). A one-way ANOVA demonstrated no significant differences in either acts of service or activism based on the racial composition of students’ friendship groups. Yet, hierarchical linear regression analyses demonstrated that Latinx undergraduates’ acts of service and activism varied based on indicators of their ERI (T1), perceived ethnic threat (T2), and proportion of intraracial friendships (T2). Similarly, Latinx undergraduates’ activism at the end of their first year varied based on indicators of ERI and proportions of intraracial friendships. These findings suggest the importance of university support for Latinx undergraduate students, and cultural affinity spaces to promote better sense of belonging during the transition to college.

MA (Master of Arts)
Latinx undergraduates, Civic engagement, Predominantly White Institution, Sense of belonging, Intraracial friendships, Ethnic Fit
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