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When Diversity Drops

Race, Religion, and Affirmative Action in Higher Education

Julie J. Park

Publication Year: 2013

Julie J. Park examines how losing racial diversity in a university affects the everyday lives of its students. She uses a student organization, the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) at “California University,” as a case study to show how reductions in racial diversity impact the ability of students to sustain multiethnic communities.

The story documents IVCF’s evolution from a predominantly white group that rarely addressed race to the most racially diverse campus fellowship at the university. However, its ability to maintain its multiethnic membership was severely hampered by the drop in black enrollment at California University following the passage of Proposition 209, a statewide affirmative action ban.

Park demonstrates how the friendships that students have—or do not have—across racial lines are not just a matter of personal preference or choice; they take place in the contexts that are inevitably shaped by the demographic conditions of the university. She contends that a strong organizational commitment to diversity, while essential, cannot sustain racially diverse student subcultures. Her work makes a critical contribution to our understanding of race and inequality in collegiate life and is a valuable resource for educators and researchers interested in the influence of racial politics on students’ lives.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xiv

...When I was in college, I visited a childhood friend who was attending Stanford University. One night she invited me to a group discussion on race that was being hosted by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF), an evangelical student organization that she attended regularly. When we got there, we were asked to break into small groups by race and, within race, national origin. The room was filled with subgroups of Asian...

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pp. 1-12

...It was a warm spring afternoon at what I am calling, for reasons of anonymity, California University (CU), a large public institution on the West Coast. A gaggle of students lined both sides of CU Walk, a pathway where students often gathered during lunchtime to pass out fliers and socialize. There were the usual staples—a table covered with pamphlets from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a cluster of Latino/a students wearing Greek letters...

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The Cultural and Organizational Contexts of Race, Religion, and Higher Education

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pp. 13-27

...Several scholarly examinations of campus fellowships focus on how these groups function as oppositional subcultures that shield evangelical Christian students from the ungodly influence of the secular university (see, for example, Bramadat 2000; Bryant 2004; Magolda and Ebben Gross 2009). In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, issues of race and diversity have been among the most hotly contested topics within the...

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Changing a Culture

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pp. 28-48

...Jake grew up in Torrance, California. The son of a Vietnamese mother and a white father, he was accustomed to being in environments that were either almost all white, all Asian, or, on rare occasions, mixed between the two groups. He started college in 1996 and quickly found a group of friends in IVCF. If he had started college just five years earlier, however, he probably would not have described IVCF as “the most diverse place...

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Pursuing Common Goals

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pp. 49-68

...Considering that race and racial reconciliation are often not seen as “biblical values,” how did IVCF persuade students to think otherwise? It did so by positioning race consciousness and faith as complimentary value systems. As Gordon Allport (1954) wrote, “prejudice . . . may be reduced by equal status contact between majority and minority groups in the pursuit of common goals” (281). Rather than working to foster a new identity...

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“Man, This Is Hard”

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pp. 69-80

...Friendships such as the ones that Darren described are atypical on college campuses, not just because of the spiritual component but also because of the interracial dynamic. On campus, interracial contact is much more likely to happen via casual socializing rather than close friendship (Espenshade and Walton Radford 2009). By remodeling organizational culture and pursuing...

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Shifting Strategies

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pp. 81-90

...After the passage of Prop. 209, black and Latino/a students were an extreme minority at CU and experienced much isolation, especially in the classroom. Numerous studies describe the constant tensions that such students experience on campuses where they are a minority and how “racial battle fatigue” wears them down over time (Feagin, Vera, and Imani 1996; Smith, Allen, and Danley 2007). At CU they understandably often wanted...

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When Race Goes on the Backburner

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pp. 91-111

...Racial reconciliation was IVCF’s lead value from 1999 to 2004, but in 2005 the chapter adapted evangelism as its core focus for the year.1 The shift reflected the group’s desire to focus on other core values while still emphasizing racial reconciliation. When I conducted student interviews in 2005 and 2006, I heard murmurs that IVCF was not focusing on race...

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When a Minority Is the Majority

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pp. 112-128

...Numerous works provide insight into what it is like for students of color to be a minority group at traditionally white colleges and universities (see, for example, Feagin, Vera, and Imani 1996; Fries-Britt and Turner 2001; Winkle-Wagner 2009). However, we rarely hear students of color reflect on what it is like to be part of the numerical majority in a traditionally...

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Renewing a Commitment

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pp. 129-142

...On the first Thursday of the new term, we piled into the auditorium for the weekly IVCF meeting. The new worship team was visibly more diverse than it had been in the past, with a mixture of black, white, and Asian American students. The worship leader led the singing: “You alone are worthy. . . . You alone are righteous. . . .” Then we sang the same song in...

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pp. 143-152

...In February 2010 the University of California, San Diego, received substantial national media attention, not because one of its renowned faculty members had won another Nobel Prize but because a group of students had thrown a seriously offensive ghetto-themed party. The hosts of “the Compton Cookout” invited women to dress in a manner emulating “ghetto...


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pp. 153-164


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pp. 165-178


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pp. 179-192


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pp. 193-198

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About the Author

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pp. 199-200

...Julie J. Park is an assistant professor in the College of Education at the University of Maryland, College Park (Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education; Student Affairs Concentration). A native Ohioan, she received her Ph.D. in education from the University...

E-ISBN-13: 9780813561707
E-ISBN-10: 0813561701
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813561691

Page Count: 214
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 857769852
MUSE Marc Record: Download for When Diversity Drops

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Minorities -- Education (Higher) -- United States.
  • Affirmative action programs in education -- United States.
  • Multiculturalism -- United States.
  • United States -- Race relations.
  • Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship.
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