Survey to explore prevalence of racial microaggressions at UConn

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Anthropology Professor Eleanor Ouimet said the survey is part of an interdisciplinary research project designed to assess the types, locations and prevalence of racial microaggression experiences among students of color at the UConn campus, as well as the effects those occurrences have on students’ education and experience. ( Screenshot via anthropology.uconn.edu )

Anthropology Professor Eleanor Ouimet said the survey is part of an interdisciplinary research project designed to assess the types, locations and prevalence of racial microaggression experiences among students of color at the UConn campus, as well as the effects those occurrences have on students’ education and experience. (Screenshot via anthropology.uconn.edu)

A University of Connecticut professor is surveying students on the prevalence of racial microaggressions at UConn as part of a larger study assessing the microaggressions experienced by students of color at the university.

Anthropology Professor Eleanor Ouimet said the survey is part of an interdisciplinary research project designed to assess the types, locations and prevalence of racial microaggression experiences among students of color at the UConn campus, as well as the effects those occurrences have on students’ education and experience.

Microaggressions are defined as subtle events, practices and interactions that people of color experience on a daily basis, Ouimet said.

Ouimet said microaggressions are broken down into three subcategories: Microinsults, which convey rudeness and insensitivity or demean a person’s racial heritage or identity; microinvalidations, which exclude, negate or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings or experiential reality of a person of color; and microassaults, which are explicit racial derogations meant to hurt an intended victim through name-calling, avoidant behavior or discriminatory actions.

“Unfortunately, the truth is that although cultivating campus diversity is a widespread objective amongst most American universities for the well-demonstrated ways in which it has proven to enhance critical thinking, intellectual engagement, cultural awareness and democratic sensibilities, it is becoming increasingly clear that many racial minority students feel unwelcome and unsupported by their home institutions,” Ouimet said.

Ouimet said she hopes her survey will answer questions ranging from “What types of racial microaggressions do UConn students of color perceive and experience?” to “Where do UConn students of color report experiencing racial microaggressions?” to “How do racial microaggressions affect students’ developmental adjustment?”

The research project consists of UConn faculty, staff and graduate students from departments ranging from psychological studies to the Academic Center for Exploratory Students to Human Development and Family Studies, Ouimet said.

“Our specific plans are to analyze the statistical and ethnographic data to identify trends, patterns and recurrent issues that need institutional attention,” Ouimet said. “We intend to bring the data to individual departments, centers and university offices to demonstrate the need for intervention and provide departments, centers and university offices with recommendations to improve and monitor the experience of all students on campus, and in so, foster an environment for enhancing and protecting campus diversity.”

Ouimet said she encourages students to participate in the survey because she wants them to know that their experiences and stories can be a catalyst for change.

“We want to give students of color a stronger platform from which to articulate instances of racial microaggression, perceived racism, race-related stress and the related negative health consequences,” Ouimet said. “And we want to do everything we can to prevent these experiences from further plaguing UConn students. To do so effectively, we are hoping to hear from as many students of color as possible.”

The survey takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes, Ouimet said. It can be found at https://uconn.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2tRL0fkGuDudEJn and upon its completion students can either be entered in a raffle to win one of ten $100 gift cards, or, if they are in a psychology course, can earn one psychology pool credit.


Gabriella DeBenedictis is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at gabriella.debenedictis@uconn.edu.

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