Students’ Perceptions of Diversity at Two Hispanic-Serving Institutions Through Pictures: A Focus on Structures for Serving

  • Gina Ann García University of Pittsburgh
  • Marialexia Zaragoza University of Pittsburgh
Keywords: Hispanic-Serving Institutions, servingness, structures, dynamic diversity, Latinx students


Beyond the basic criteria to become a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), which includes enrolling 25% Latinx students, the federal government has not established guidelines for better serving these students. Instead, educators at HSIs must submit applications for competitive federal grants that allow them to define and enact “servingness” in practice, which is a multidimensional way to think about how to educate and liberate minoritized students and with a need to transform the “structures for serving” them. In both research and practice, however, students at HSIs have not been given the opportunity to define servingness, or to even talk about what it means to be educated at a campus that is compositionally diverse. The purpose of this study was to explore how students at two HSIs in the Midwest perceive diversity through pictures, with a focus on the organizational structures that represent diversity. Using a photo elicitation methodology, which prompted students to take pictures of the structural elements on campus that represent diversity, and one-on-one interviews that allowed them to describe their pictures, students talked about diversity as reflected in art on campus, people on campus, and spaces on campus. Implications are offered for understanding servingess, and specifically the structures for serving, as perceived by students.