Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Carmen McCallum, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Phillip Caldwell, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Raul Leon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Calvin Phillips, Ed.D.


This study aimed to examine the experiences of Black men living on campus at predominately White institutions (PWIs) and their sense of belonging. Perception of social support, connectedness, and acceptance with the campus community was used as the operational definition of sense of belonging used for this study. Research suggests that Black men have less belonging than their White counterparts at PWIs and that living on campus can positively influence the development of sense of belonging. However, the literature lacks Black men’s experiences in the residence halls at PWIs and influences on sense of belonging. This qualitative study utilized a constructivist grounded theory approach to interview 20 Black men at three different institutions. Three research questions guided this study: (a) How do Black men describe their experiences in the residence halls at a PWI? (b) How do one’s social identities (e.g., race, gender, socioeconomic) impact experiences in the residence halls? (c) What components of the on-campus living experience enhance or hinder sense of belonging for Black men at a PWI? There were six key findings regarding the collective experience of Black men living on campus at PWIs. Roommates were both positively and negatively impactful to sense of belonging. Finding connectedness as a part of belonging came specifically from individual relationships with other students developed in and outside of the residence halls. Participants experienced many forms of microaggressions within the residence halls, often impacting their sense of acceptance. Although sense of belonging has a formal definition, participants expanded the definition by adding feelings of comfort and sense of safety. Sense of belonging for Black men living on campus is contextual and mediated by time, environment, and world events. Some participants had uncertainty about belonging and did not feel all the positive attributes suggested but instead felt something was missing overall in their college experiences at a PWI. In review of these findings, this study asserts that sense of belonging for Black men living on campus at PWIs is developed under three conditions: sense of safety, feelings of comfort, and positive relationships.