Book by: Shaun R. Harper and Frank Harris III
Review by: Brendan Wright
College of Arts and Science Advising Center
New York University
In higher education today, professionals face a climate with increasingly diminished enrollment and graduation rates for male students. As Harper and Harris point out in their introduction, in 2008, male students accounted for less than 54% of total undergraduate enrollments. With this in mind, it is essential to locate resources that help to promote the success of male students and recognize existing barriers to their success.
Harper and Harris have collected a range of articles pertaining to masculinity and the landscape male students face within the collegiate world. An essential highlight of this work is that masculinity is a complex element of identity and must be navigated carefully by male students and the practitioners who guide and support them.
Although some may not find the bulk of this work directly applicable to the field of academic advising, it is quite valuable as it provides many insights into attainting a greater understanding of male student identities. These insights are essential to understanding how aspects of masculinity or the male student experience impact decisions students make, including their academic courses of study.
Through research presented by authors Juan Guardia and Nancy Evans in chapter 20, it is shown that students who join multicultural fraternities feel more connected to peers who support them. It is helpful for advisors to have a knowledge base of such organizations within the campuses they work to refer the students they work with to if they are feeling isolated. When such resources do not exist, referring to chapters within part five of this volume is beneficial for useful insights into how one can support student of color more.
Articles from authors Krystal Beamon and Harper on men who engage in athletics are certainly valuable to academic advisors. These articles point to the importance of being advocates for student athletes who feel pressure from collegiate sports programs to put athletics before academics. Such narratives serve as a reminder that a startling number of athletes either do not complete their degrees within six years or obtain degrees in areas they lack interest in. This demonstrates that student athletes require stronger advocates for their academic careers as recent events at institutions such as UNC Chapel Hill serve as a reminder of.
While there are a great number of beneficial articles within this particular work, it is not without flaws. Some of the articles utilized small sample sizes, including the work of Guardia and Evans where only seven students participated. With smaller sample sizes, the applicability of findings to larger populations is seriously limited, meaning the insights provided into the male student experience overall is limited. At the same time however, with part two and part five of this compilation focusing entirely on sexuality, sexual identity and experiences of men of color respectively, Harper and Harris have given attention to many levels of identity and keep a focus on the diversity of male experiences which contribute to the strength and success of the volume as a whole.
Male student populations can be quite complex. No matter the role an individual plays in the collegiate setting, it is important to have an understanding of how societal messages and cultural aspects play a role in shaping male college students. Being able to identify and address problematic elements of the male student experience can help propel these students towards greater academic success.
College Men and Masculinities: Theory, Research, and Implications for Practice
. (2010). Book by (Eds) Shaun R. Harper & Frank Harris III. Review by Brendan Wright
, Wiley. 616pp., $68.00, (Paperback) ISBN #978-0-470-44842-7