Latinx Spanish-speaking Students’ Experiences with Language and Race on Campus
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Prior research addresses the experiences of Latinx students and students of color on university campuses through the framework of Critical Race Theory and related frameworks, such as LatCrit (Jones, Castellanos, & Cole, 2002; Hurtado, 1992; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991; Yosso, Smith, Ceja, & Solórzano, 2009). By centering the examination on Latinx students, we can see how intertwined language and race/ethnicity are; Spanish language usage becomes significantly connected to Latinidad. However, although Critical Race Theory provides space to address issues of language as an aspect of identity, as it is an interdisciplinary framework, research at the intersection of race and language within this context is lacking. The present study employs a raciolinguistic perspective, which theorizes the co-naturalization of language and race (Rosa & Flores, 2017) to examine the linguistic and racial experiences of Latinx-identifying, Spanish-speaking students at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin). This study examines how these students react to on-campus interactions, and perceive their racial/ethnic identities and Spanish language usage in relation to the campus social environment at large, and on a smaller level, the Spanish language classroom. To explore these questions, we had Latinx-identifying, Spanish-speaking students complete a survey about their linguistic background, educational experiences at UT Austin, racial and ethnic identification, and feeling towards others’ perceptions of themselves. Latinx student responses were compared based on whether they identified as people of color or white. I hypothesize that the subset of students of color in this group will report more negative feelings and discomfort in interactions on campus compared to their Latinx, white counterparts. Based on responses to perception-related questions, I also hypothesize that these students will report a more negative campus climate than their Latinx, white counterparts, who will report campus climate to be more positive despite their also identifying as Latinx. Thirdly, I hypothesize that language will have an impact on these students’ experiences, as opposed to no impact at all. Results are discussed in terms of how raciolinguistic ideologies permeate the experiences of Latinx, Spanish-speaking students at UT Austin according to Rosa and Flores’s (2017) stated components of a raciolinguistic perspective.