image of student in a circleIllinois State University’s Student Counseling Services is launching a new group for students of color to talk about stresses unique to their experience on campus.

“A process group offers a safe and supportive space for students to make sense and give voice to issues and concerns,” said Staff Counselor Dakesa Piña, who is coordinating the group. “The Students of Color Process Group will provide students a chance to openly engage in dialogues related to what it means to be a student of color on a predominantly white campus.”

The Students of Color Process Group will meet Wednesdays from 4:40 to 5:45 p.m. beginning next semester. Students interested in joining the group should contact Student Counseling Services for an initial assessment appointment.

Piña noted a student who identifies as someone of color faces different experiences and challenges from other students. “Not seeing many people like themselves in class may lead students to believe they do not compare to their peers, or be convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved,” said Piña, who added that this “imposter syndrome” can lead students of color to have low self-esteem or do poorly in classes. “In extreme cases, it can lead students to leave the University.”

Another stress can come from believing stereotypes. “The most prevalent example of a ‘stereotype threat’ we use is that men are better at science than women,” said Piña. “Consciously, we know this is not true, but it is such a pervasive message in our society that unconsciously we begin to believe it.” The same stereotype threats can come into play with students of color, who may subconsciously believe—incorrectly—that they cannot compete in a rigorous academic atmosphere.

According to Piña, now is the perfect time for a student-led process group as the country awakens to the challenges facing people of color. “This is a time when race-related issues are on the forefronts of most people’s minds, whether they are a student of color or not,” said Piña. “Because it is moving from the subconscious to the conscious, we start to talk about it in day-to-day interactions. This is a great time to have a group where students of color can talk about those concerns.”

Students can call Student Counseling Services at (309) 438-3655 to make an assessment appointment, or stop by room 320 of the Student Services Building. Find out more information on the Student Counseling Services website.