Increases in cultural and linguistic diversity worldwide pose major challenges for universities to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Universities prioritize safety on campuses, but that process is severely hindered as many students of color face racial microaggressions daily, which impairs interethnic relationships and socio-academic adjustment. Thus although diversity is often expected to enhance inclusion and academic excellence of ethnic minorities, it is paradoxically linked to their exclusion and academic failure instead. This raises the question: How can universities create sustainable academic communities that promote DEI for all students? A promising method is living-learning communities (LLCs) which, unlike traditional residential housings, are specialized social settings centered on distinct academic themes that connect students’ experiences. LLC advocates argue that students develop a strong sense of belonging, learn how to think critically about social justice, and take multiple perspectives and develop a greater connection and better communication with other students. If this is true, do LLCs help prevent racial microaggressions among students who participate in such communities? And if so, how? That is, what are the key mechanisms? This study answers these questions through an innovative social network approach. Findings and mechanisms may be applicable to develop network interventions for integrated communities.
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