This is cross-cultural communication study interviewing Junior and Seniors from different political backgrounds, in similar and different ways among themselves, and where they stand with the climate of the campus after the 2016 election, how they would go about making the campus more inclusive. Various research articles were collected, which influenced the approach to the method of the study.
In a research article Social Networks, Political Discussion and Voting in Italy: A Study of The 2006 Elections. In the decades, Italy was characterized by the existence of politically and socially cohesive communities capable of exercising very powerful influence on voting behavior.
The two predominant parties, the Christian Democratic party (DC) and the Communist party (PCI), the Catholic church, and trade unions, thanks to their extensive and entrenched networks largely dominated the process of political communication, especially at the grass-roots level. Therefore, the investigation of the nature of the social structure and of its influence was always central to the analysis of voting behavior.
In particular, a substantial and influential body of research took into account the remarkable differences between political traditions and cultures of Italian regional areas (Spreafico and LaPalombara 1963; Poggi 1968; Galli 1968; Parisi and Pasquino 1977; Corbetta, Parisi and Schadee 1988; Cartocci 1990; Diamanti 1993). However, notwithstanding the fundamental assumption that individual political behavior was mediated by social groups, earliest research on voting by Italian scholars rarely addressed the mechanisms of this process of intermediation (Campus, Pasquino, Vaccari, 2006, 2).
However, if one focuses on the role of information sources in influencing political choice, it appears evident that the political information coming from newspapers, television and the new media is only a part of a broader context in which interpersonal communication also plays a significant role.
Therefore, even if the old social and political networks have been weakened and changed in nature after the collapse of the political system in early ’90s, the existence of communication networks may still prove to be capable of influencing political opinions and filtering media messages. The line of research started by Huckfeldt and Spragues (1995) seminal book found new evidence of the main assertion advanced by Katz and Lazarsfeld (1955): citizens are interdependent in the sense that they depend on one another for information and advice. Huckfeldt and Sprague (1995) identified individuals’ micro-environmental surroundings as one of the main intermediaries of voting choices. The difference from traditional research carried out by studies of the Columbia School (Lazarsfeld et al. 1944) is that the focus is on discussion networks rather than on social groups. Networks have the characteristic of not being self-contained, that is, they are capable of accommodating the fact that individuals do not usually belong to a single group, but to multiple groups that are sometimes open to different political directions (Huckfeldt et al. 2004, 18). Moreover, citizens experience their social settings in bits and pieces, that is to say they obtain their information through a series of exchanges with a number of people with whom they share a social space. As a consequence, “the central political tendency of a particular setting is never experienced directly, but it is rather reconstructed on the basis of the fragmented experiences that are differentially weighted in ways that are idiosyncratic to both recipient and the source of the information. This view marks an extension and perhaps a departure from a rich tradition of contextual studies in which individuals are seen as responding, more or less directly, to the political climate within which they reside” (Huckfeldt et al. 2004, 31).
This approach is especially appropriate for analyzing a context such as the current Italian one where the political transition provoked so many changes in the political scenario with the decline of old social and political references and the emergence of new ones still in a constant evolution. Where organizations decline in quantity and in quality, that is, in their numbers and in their ability to structure the transmission of political communication, chances are that interpersonal networks will occupy the newly free space. In addition, we would suggest that, in any case, the analysis of discussion networks should complement research on the role of the mass media in shaping voting choices. (Campus, Pasquino, Vaccari, 2006, 3).
Several researchers have connected the quality of interactions between diverse others directly to student learning outcomes and satisfaction with the collegiate experience (Milem, 2003). Quality interactions, those that intentionally maximize cross-racial interactions and encourage ongoing discussion contact, can be encouraged both inside and outside the classroom. Completion of an academic course that addresses issues of diversity was related to decreases in racial bias (Milem, 2003). Chang (2001) also found that completion of an academic course on diversity encouraged students evaluation of moral and ethical values through reflection on evidence, a higher order cognitive skill (Baxter Magolda, 1992; King & Kitchner, 1994). Nelson Laird, Engberg, and Hurtado (2002) linked the completion of a diversity course to increased quality of students experiences with diverse peers [and] commitment to social action (p. 21). Classroom experiences that encourage students to explore issues of race and to interact with diverse others are essential to positive educational outcomes related to race. Out-of-class experiences also influence learning outcomes directly for both students of color and White students. In large, multiinstitution studies, Whitt, Edison, Pascarella, Terenzini, and Nora (2001) and Villalpando (2002) found strong positive relationships between participation in diversity workshops and openness to diversity (Whitt et al.), as well as satisfaction with college (Villalpando). In another study of over 2,800 White students at 17 institutions, attendance at a racial or cultural awareness workshop was the strongest predictor of students attitudes toward race after their sophomore year (Springer, Palmer, Terenzini, Pascarella, & Nora, 1996).
Since politics will be a difficult conversation to have with some of the interviewers. First, the interviewers had to be debriefed about the research. Then proceeded with asking questions that will gradually ease the interviewers into main interview questions. The method for the interview is shown below:
Thank you very much for volunteering for this interview today. For this interview youll be anonymous anything you say will not be counted against. The interview is a collective of questions about the climate of the school before and after the election in 2016, after trumps election. At any point during the interview, you may feel free to not answer if you feel uncomfortable. Alright, let’s begin.
1. What is your major?
2. How long have you been attending Ursinus College?
3. How would you describe your experience being at Ursinus College?
a. Would you recommend this school to someone who is interested in attending?
4. So lets travel back to a time of Ursinus College freshman year
a. How would you describe it? When you do tell me how it made you feel?
b. Now, lets move to sophomore year to the time before and after the election?
i. Describe to the climate of the campus in your eyes? Also, the people around you whether it may be your, colleagues, friends, and yourself?
5. Being who you are on campus, how would you go about making the campus more inclusive?
6. What makes you happy?
For this study twelve people were interviewed. Out of the twelve, four were juniors and eight were seniors. The questions for the seniors were designed different because since they have been attending Ursinus College longer the juniors. The seniors were attending Ursinus College at the time when Ursinus was more inclusive.
Most of the seniors interviewed had a good freshman year for the part. While others who were African-American students would not describe their freshman year great because of facing micro-aggressions, and racism. Most students who came from low income backgrounds expressed facing challenges with their academics. This was difficult for them to adjust and while they were some professors who were not merciful. When asked if they would recommend Ursinus College to anyone who is interested in attending; seven replied stating yes, two replied stating no, and three replied stating, it depends on the area of study. If they interested in STEM, yes. Other majors like the Art no. Juniors came in at a time where everything hit them in their face, which was a lot of information to process.
Now, lets get to the point, the question with the elongated response. Its best to start with the seniors, their response of the climate of the campus before and after the 2016 elections. Most stated people were talking about it, it was like a joke. Until we got close to the election that was where everything got really tensed. This was something many of the seniors stated, one even said, my roommate was a Trump supporter. We use to argue but like joking around. But hes transferred out. One RA stated that as the news were counting down the polls and it was drawing near to midnight we knew he Trump was going to win. This is coming from everyone of both seniors and juniors stated, the next day after the election the campus was tensed even the entire country.
The question where interviewers were throwing ideas in the air when asked, how would they go about making the campus more inclusive. Some stated if the school would have information session educating people about what it means to be a minority. One interviewer stated going to events such as SUN and ALMA, having events in the IIE, which will make the black community more engage. One interesting remark interviewers stated in the closing of the interview, I ask what makes them happy, one stated smoking weed, being with their teammates, friends, and fraternity.
This project was fun it was interesting hearing others thoughts of how they feel about the climate of the campus. From the information I have gather for an entire semester of observing and now finally getting to hear the thoughts of others. Many people dont know what to believe in anymore. As a senior who attended Ursinus College at a time where students look to the media for something to believe in and this is where they model their college career after. Now, that the elites are at war and there isnt much music being produce, a lot of movies are being made again for nostalgic purposes. What I am really saying the country needs hope again, they need something believe in.
Campus, D. (2010). Mediatization and personalization of politics in Italy and France: The cases of Berlusconi and Sarkozy. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 15(2), 219-235.
Rankin, S. R., & Reason, R. D. (2005). Differing perceptions: How students of color and White students perceive campus climate for underrepresented groups. Journal of College Student Development, 46(1), 43-61.