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Emerging Adulthood

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As college has increasingly become part of emerging adulthood for United States youth, Predominantly White and Historically White Institutions (PWI/HWIs) have faced pressures to diversify and address problematic racial/ethnic campus climates. Within the rich and evolving literature, there is room for better understanding how Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) emerging adults experience institutional messaging. This report draws on environmental press and meaning making to explore this experience for 21 BIPOC students at an urban, Midwestern PWI/HWI. In focus groups, students highlighted the role of the university’s messaging around race/ethnicity and inclusion as problematic: negative descriptions about the urban context surrounding the university held implicit messages about BIPOC students on campus, while positive messaging about inclusion and diversity efforts was dissonant with the lack of perceived action. The findings speak to the importance of emerging adults’ perception and interpretation of messaging and institutional action to promote diversity.


Accepted version. Emerging Adulthood, Vol. 10, No. 4 (August 2022): 852-858. DOI. © 2022 SAGE Publications. Used with permission.

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