Speaker talks on student well-being

By Suzanne Tomse

Inspiration from support systems contributes to the intellectual well-being of students and motivates their learning, said Jaqueline Fleming, author of “Blacks in College,” at Unity Through Diversity Week’s keynote address last night.

owever, Fleming, a psychology professor, said that although black students receive sufficient support at predominately black colleges, there is a lack of support for them at predominately white universities.

Fleming discussed research she completed on how the campus environment affects minority student achievement and retention.

“My basic thesis is that black students are retained when they find adequate resources for their energy,” Fleming said.

Fleming conducted her research on 3,000 freshmen and senior college students at eight predominately white universities and seven predominately black universities in Georgia, Texas, Mississippi and Ohio.

Through her research, Fleming found twice as much intellectual development of black students at predominately black schools than at predominately white universities. She found at the predominately white colleges there was a gross deterioration in the intellectual development of black students and the development was actually “thwarted.”

In addition, Fleming found black students’ motivation and confidence to be four times as great at predominately black universities than at predominately white universities.

In competition, Fleming said black students on white campuses tend to not try because they discover the competition is “unfair.”

Fleming said at predominately white schools, black male students were found to be afraid of the humiliation associated with failure and as a result would avoid classes and most types of educational activities. However, at predominately black universities, black male students tended to be more achievement oriented.

She also said at predominately white universities, black students were characterized by a great deal of assertiveness but were directing that assertiveness to outside activities other than academics.

When looking at higher achievers, Fleming said black students at predominately black universities had strong motivations and ambitions, while black students at predominately white schools tended to be frustrated and fatigued.

“Black students leave college when they are not learning. Black students at white colleges are severely frustrated in their attempts to do well.”

Fleming said black students experience a lack of adequate interpersonal support on white campuses. “It is harder for black students at predominately white schools to find sympathetic people to talk to,” she said.

Black Student Union President Pam Bozeman said there is a lack of support for black students on NIU’s campus in the areas of black faculty and staff. She said students could find support through groups such as the BSU, which has peer tutoring, counseling and other services.

Fleming stressed the importance of constructive relationships with other people in successful intellectual development for all students. In addition, she said one key to becoming successful is to think from more points of view than just one. “We need to learn to think from more than one point of view … the most intellectual thinking wins.”