In the News: Buffy Smith on Access to Extracurricular Activities for BIPOC Students

The Sahan Journal recently published an article by Buffy Smith, dean of the University of St. Thomas Dougherty Family College (DFC), about why DFC is working to remove barriers to ensure all scholars have access to extracurricular activities, which can benefit their mental health and future employment. 

From the story:

Extracurricular activities – such as student clubs and organizations – are an important part of the college experience. However, not all students have the same access to these programs. A recent survey by Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse, finds that race plays a major factor in this access, 40% of Hispanic students say they spend zero hours weekly on extracurricular activities, compared to 29% each of white and Black students and 16% of Asian students. The challenges this survey reports are real and familiar, and at Dougherty Family College (DFC) – a two-year college at the University of St. Thomas where 95% are students of color – we are working to remove barriers and make sure all our scholars have access to extracurricular activities which can benefit their mental health and future employment. 

One program we offer is an eight-day summer enrichment program that helps first-year scholars develop a sense of belonging before the semester starts. Many young people, especially first-generation college students, suffer from loneliness. According to the survey our scholars completed after the summer enrichment program, 95% said they felt a sense of belonging. In addition, the summer enrichment program helps students develop academic and social confidence as they learn to navigate the hidden curriculum of higher education. The topics covered in the summer enrichment program (e.g., time management, study skills, etc.) are reinforced in our first-year experience course.