Academic journal article College Student Affairs Journal

The Use of Culturally Relevant Videos to Draw Attention to Cultural Diversity: A Preliminary Study

Academic journal article College Student Affairs Journal

The Use of Culturally Relevant Videos to Draw Attention to Cultural Diversity: A Preliminary Study

Article excerpt

Videos celebrating Hispanic Heritage and Black History month were presented at two regionally and ethnically distinct college campuses. Sixtytwo students (33 White and 29 ethnic minority) were interviewed regarding what attracted them to the video. Four themes emerged: (a) multicultural content of the video; (b) music and dancing content; (c) curiosity about the video; and (d) the presence of children in each video. Across the two campuses, students of color commented positively on the cultural content as well as the musical and dance components of each video. Recommendations regarding the use of cultural videos on college campuses are presented.

Over the last decade, researchers have explored the specific knowledge, skills and awareness essential to developing cultural sensitivity (Carter & Vuong, 1997; Ponterotto, Alexander, & Greiger, 1995; Ponterotto, Lewis, & Bullington, 1990; Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1995). These components have included minority representation on college campuses, existence of multicultural courses, opportunities for students to engage with diverse populations, presence of faculty and staff who actively engage in multicultural research as publications and presentations bring national visibility to the college, and attention to the physical environment. It is this latter recommendation, "attention to the physical environment," which is the focus of this paper.

Diversifying the environment might include having artwork, such as paintings, posters, and video presentations, with multicultural themes visible in high traffic areas on campus (Alexander & Sussman, 1995; Greiger, 1996). This type of visibility would enhance the campus climate and demonstrate that diversity is valued on campus (Green, 1988; Ponterotto et al., 1995).

The notion of "environmental visibility" has been shown to be important in the selection of occupations by African Americans. Parham and Austin (1994) commented that whether influenced by role models or a lack thereof, individuals select occupations based on their ability to see themselves reflected in a particular work environment or career field. Further, in response to requests from African American employees to make the work environment more welcoming and culturally friendly to a diverse workforce, employers have taken steps to modify the physical workplace space. These changes in the environment might include artwork by Black artists on office walls, or rhythm and blues music on the office stereo.

Among educational settings, K-12 schools have demonstrated greater flexibility than colleges in setting up culturally diverse environments. Carter and Vuong (1997) reported on a project at an urban southern secondary school. This project involved the active planning and delivery of assembly programs that focused on the music, dance, food and customs of a specific culture. The authors reported that each assembly was highly received by the school community and demonstrated an increase in multicultural awareness and knowledge among students and faculty.

While college campuses have developed a variety of student service programs to create an inviting atmosphere for ethnic minority students (e.g., awareness group experiences, increased numbers of multi-ethnic students, and an ethnic student walk-in service (Parker & Scott, 1985), these programs have been less successful. Finding ways to attend to the day-to-day physical environment on college campuses continues to be an overlooked challenge (Henderson, 1988). Of major concern is the difficulty encountered by college administrators in competing for college students' limited free time.

Capturing the attention of college students can be challenging for student affairs administrators who want to establish a welcoming environment for students of color. Neville and Furlong (1994) examined the impact that participation in a structured cultural awareness program had on the racial attitudes and social behaviors of college students and reported an attrition rate of 73% for college students who participated in their study. …

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