McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Laura Gutierrez


Major and Classification

American Studies and Ethnicity

Faculty Mentor

  • Roberto Lint Sagarena, Ph.D.


  • Religion

McNair Project

Self-Segregation: The Latino Floors and Their Effect on the Formation of Ethnic Identity among Latino Students at USC

Freshmen students have always faced many hurdles in their path to success and graduation, but it has been shown that minority students face even more troubles, and in fact, often view their ethnicity as another stressor. They often associate with other students of a similar background to combat this problem, but even other students and some members of school administrations often view this as self-segregation and a refusal to assimilate. At the University of Southern California, the Latino Floors offer even more of a chance for these students to voluntarily "segregate" themselves, but what effect does this experience have on a student's college experience? According to interviews conducted with many past residents of these floors, although they might leave their first year associating with mostly Latinos (even if they did not do so before), the benefits of such an experience outweigh the negative aspects of this self-inflicted isolation, and the students are thus better-equipped to deal with the stressors of the college environment. In past years, dormitories such as these have come under fire for allegedly isolating students and preventing them from learning from their fellow students, but I hypothesize that not only do these students feel more comfortable in a university setting than their Latino peers and are less likely to drop out, they also develop a sense of ethnic identity and dispel many stereotypes they had previously held about other Latinos.