For Colored’s Only: An Analysis of Institutional Safe Spaces

Maya Victoria Newlin


What does it mean to have space, to walk into an area where you know those around you are allies rather than hidden land mines waiting to explode your physical and emotional wellbeing? These are ideas that consume the thoughts of many persons of color on a day-to-day basis. This project explored how institutional space, dedicated for students of color to use, affected their college experience at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, a predominantly white institution. The purpose was to specifically determine the following: if there is a correlation between the availability of cultural space and the retention of students of color, if students of color find it imperative to have spaces to promote their feelings of safety and inclusion on their campus, how academic spaces dedicated to discussing diversity and social justice affect the college experience of these students, and finally, determining how effective student affairs programming creates culturally inclusive spaces. To explore these questions, all Black students at UNC Asheville were invited to participate in a self-administered survey over the course of one week. In addition to surveys, the university’s Director of the Intercultural Center was interviewed, and a content analysis on the presence and functionality of sister Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) universities intercultural centers and cultural academic departments was conducted.


African-American, Higher Education, Inclusivity

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