A comparative analysis: African-American students' perspectives on collegial experiences in historically Black and historically White colleges and universities in Mississippi

Michael Thomas Snowden


African Americans came to the North American continent by the institution of slavery. As slaves, they were denied the rights and opportunities of other immigrant which migrated to this country. One of the opportunities denied was education. Through legislation, litigation, and the Emancipation Proclamation many African American were allowed to become educated in the later 1800s and early 1900s. The educational experiences that African American students were allowed to have prior to the late 1960s were through segregated institutions now called Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Today, African American students are admitted to many different types of institutions. This study focused on the differences existing between a selected group of African American students in attendance at either a historically Black or White college or university in Mississippi. Comparisons have been made between African American student populations on Black and White college campuses. Predominantly Black colleges have frequently served Black students who otherwise would not have had an opportunity to attend college. These institutions pride themselves on the ability to meet the needs of financially disadvantaged, academically under-prepared Black students and improve these deficiencies (Allen, 1985; Allen, 1986; Allen, 1988; Allen, 1992; Crosson, 1991). The subjects for this study were two convenience groups of African American undergraduate students--one group in attendance at public historically Black colleges and universities in Mississippi and a second group attending historically White colleges and universities in the state of Mississippi. The study included approximately 300 students, (150 from historically Black colleges and universities and 150 from historically White colleges and universities). The instrument used in this study is "The Diversity In The College Community: A Survey Of Student Opinions And Experiences". The instrument, developed by Walter R. Allen, sociology professor at UCLA, has been through three pretests and revisions. The pretests were administered in 1979 and 1980 to students at the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina. The discriminant function technique was used to test the H1. The discriminant function with covariance was used to test H2-H6. The findings in the study clearly show differences between African American students. The difference that are most contributing to the plethora of literature are in the area of perceived instruction of the HWCU students. African American students experience a lack of encouragement by faculty. This is a problem, if student can not relate to the learning experience learning will not take place. The HBCU students generally found faculty on their campuses to be concerned about their well-being and giving encouragement. Based on this study findings these are qualities the HWCU faculty need to replicate. The findings support the need for faculty to attempt to find more ways of showing support and encouragement to the students of color. The need to recruit and retain African American faculty is a must. African American faculty is a novelty on HWCU campuses, but there should be a strong push toward recruitment of these faculty. If they cannot attract, then train the graduate students present and encourage those students to obtain the degrees which would allow them to become faculty members. The study has merit toward the understanding of African American students in Mississippi. African American students on HBCU and HWCU college campuses in Mississippi demonstrate differences, but the differences are expressions of diversity.