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Abstract

With research supporting the benefits of racial diversity within the workplace and in academic settings, many colleges and universities have begun ramping up efforts to increase racial diversity within their student bodies. Gordon Allport’s contact hypothesis theory (1954) suggests that increasing racial diversity alone does not increase friendship diversity, but that support for cross-group interactions by persons in authority helps to promote meaningful interactions across racial groups. This paper looks at the effects of extracurricular activities on friendship diversity of individuals at the college level by distinguishing between if an individual is selected by authority figures or if that individual self-selects into that activity, after controlling for personal characteristics and high school diversity. The results show a positive correlation between joining an extracurricular activity into which one is selected by members of authority, and that individual’s friendship diversity. However when distinguishing between Whites and non-Whites, the results show that non-white students who are members of selective groups have increased friendship diversity, but Whites do not. As suggested by previous research, race, sex, and high school diversity are also strongly correlated with friendship diversity.

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