Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis


Educational Leadership and Policies


Higher Education and Student Affairs

First Advisor

Christian K Anderson


This purpose of this research study is to investigate the racial identity of White male college students who choose to join historically White fraternities (HWFs). Previous literature found that students in these organizations are more involved in community service and leadership organizations, they are more academically proficient, and they are more satisfied with their college experience (Abrahamowicz, 1988; Astin, 1999). Despite these advantages associated with HWFs, the literature also indicated the existence of subtle and palpable racism existing both from historically and currently ( Pascarella, 1996).

The research design was a mixed methodology, relying heavily on quantitative data, specifically the use of an online assessment centered around Janet Helms' White Racial Identity Attitude Scale and a researcher-created supplemental instrument to assess the degree to which White racial identity develops in members of HWFs, and how their involvement in these organizations aids or hinders the development of racial identity. The assessment was completed by 24 members, 23 of whom met the criteria of the study population for an n of 23.

The data presented several results: White racial identity development was positively associated with the amount of time spent in an HWF, holding a leadership position was positively associated with White racial identity, and members of these organizations are confident that their fraternities are providing them with diverse experiences. Future areas of research should include similar studies developed from within the HWFs themselves, and longitudinal studies that would more accurately reflect the racial identity development of the organization's members.


© 2012, Daniel James Shelnutt