Research to address access to campus resources during difficult times

While students from underrepresented communities may have already been struggling to access campus resources, the dual challenges of racial injustices and COVID-19 have only exacerbated the matter.

A new project from Oscar Patrón will try to make a difference for those students. Patrón’s project hopes to explore how institutional stakeholders are cultivating opportunities for underrepresented students to access campus resources in precarious times. Through the project, Patrón’s goal is to figure out what students’ concerns are and how those in higher education can create better collaborations across colleges and universities to ensure the success of vulnerable populations.

Although there is no single explanation for this, such differences may be due to gaps in the impact of COVID-19 on students’ family care responsibilities, which are more prevalent among communities of color. In turn, this may have unintended consequences on their expected time to graduate and student loans, among other things.

Oscar Patrón

“As someone who works in higher education and given my research interests, I find it necessary to figure out ways of better supporting students’ well-being. While underrepresented communities may have already been struggling with accessing and utilizing campus resources, dual pandemics have only exacerbated the matter,” he said. 

Patrón, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society, pointed out that recent studies have shown that students of color and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to take fewer classes in the near future, among other things.

“Although there is no single explanation for this, such differences may be due to gaps in the impact of COVID-19 on students’ family care responsibilities, which are more prevalent among communities of color. In turn, this may have unintended consequences on their expected time to graduate and student loans, among other things,” Patrón said. “Research also tells us that students of color often do not get the help they need, including with their mental health, and how this will worsen throughout the pandemics. With this project, I intend to shed more light on this very question to reveal those specific challenges and ways to ameliorate them.” 

In order to discover how minoritized students are making decisions about accessing resources and what those experiences look like, Patrón  will be conducting semi-structured interviews with students and higher education staff and administrators starting this spring semester. The project has received support from IU’s Racial Justice Research Fund and will use the funding to support various aspects of the study, including incentives for participants, transcriptions, and the hiring of students to assist at different phases of the investigation.

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