Examining the Relationship between Ethnic and Racial Labeling and Substance Use among Undergraduate Baccalaureate Graduates

Written by Evolution Writer


Substance abuse among youths has been highlighted as a major problem in the United States. A major concern is that there is an increasing problem of substance abuse in learning institutions. Research shows in the country that there is a strong positive association between ethnic backgrounds of students and involvement in substance abuse (Unger et al., 2014).  However, there is a need to conduct further analysis on this issue in further research. It is important for policymakers in the education system to understand the significant causes of substance abuse in higher learning institutions.

As stated by Rosenberg, Groves, and Blankenship (2017), understanding each cause from a single perspective is essential in helping establish solutions to the problem. One of the major causes of substance abuse among graduates in the higher learning institutions has been highlighted as racial profiling and ethnic labeling. As stated by Gibbons et al. (2010) it is important to understand how students of minority backgrounds have survived in higher institutions and whether the existing discrimination changes their behavior. This is critical in helping to explore further whether the change in behavior as a result of ethnic labeling has any relationship with the student’s involvement in substance abuse.

Problem statement

There is a huge gap of knowledge in the research field regarding information about the causes of increasing rates of substance abuse among graduate students. Unger et al. (2009) and Sanders‐Phillips et al. (2014) wrote that substance abuse has increased in higher learning institution but fails to expound on the possible causes of the increase. Research in this field broadens the analysis to evaluate the cause of drug abuse and alcoholism in the higher education system. There is no substantive evidence to help a researcher hypothesize on a specific group such as the Undergraduate Baccalaureate graduates. Research by Rosenberg, Groves, and Blankenship (2017) indicated that substance abuse among the graduates is linked with many causes including influence from the peers, ease of accessibility, and difficulties are learning. However, no adequate data narrows down the analysis to help understand how the issue of racial and ethnic labeling may affect graduates and prompt them to engage in substance abuse.

Research questions and hypothesis

This study hypothesizes that there is a strong relationship between ethnic and racial labeling and increased substance abuse among undergraduate baccalaureate graduates. The research aims at explaining how being profiled ethnically or discriminated racially, causes the graduates to engage in drug abuse. The study purposes to answer the following research questions:

  • To what extent does ethnic profiling negatively affect an individual’s behavior of undergraduate baccalaureate graduates?
  • To what does racial discrimination lead to the isolation and segregation of undergraduate baccalaureate graduates?
  • To what extent does stress related to ethnic profiling and racial discrimination contributes to substance abuse among undergraduate baccalaureate graduates?

By answering these questions, the research will be aiming at understanding how being racially discriminated and profiled can translate to the involvement of graduates in delinquency such as substance abuse.

Literature review

Literature in the substance abuse field is broad and covers numerous areas of the society including the students and the community at large. Narrowing down to the substance abuse in higher learning institutions, research by Unger et al. (2014), Sanders‐Phillips et al. (2014), and Gibbons et al. (2010) are valuable sources of information. These sources are valuable given that they present adequate information and statistics to help understand the extent of the drug abuse problem among the graduates.

There is also vast literature in the substance abuse field focusing on the causes of this problem in higher learning institutions. The works of Unger et al. (2009) and Rosenberg, Groves, and Blankenship (2017) expand in detail information about the stress-related causes of substance abuse among the graduates. The information presented in these publications is critical in developing theory and testing the developed hypothesis on racial abuse and discrimination as one of the major causes of substance abuse among the graduates.

To help link racial abuse and its effect on students’ behavior, the studies by Unger et al. (2014) and Gibbons et al. (2010) will be valuable in this research. Adequate data will be gathered from these studies to help with the analysis. From the different works, enough literature will be summarized and analytically combined as a first step of helping the researcher lay down the research question and identify how to test the research hypothesis.

Research design and methodology

To conduct this study, the researcher will adopt methods that are best suited to study human behavior. Qualitative and quantitative research approaches are known as very appropriate when analyzing the factors that cause a change in human behavior. This will be phenomenology research that will aim at identifying how being racially abused or profiled could affect the graduates and cause their involvement in substance abuse.

Data for this study will be collected through survey research. As explained by Creswell (2013), survey research is applicable when aiming at collecting the perceptions and opinions of well-informed participants about a given issue. In this study, the focus will be on baccalaureate graduates who have experience with racial abuse and profiling. The aim will be to survey their opinion about how profiling contributes to the involvement of students in drug and other substance abuse.

For this study, a survey questionnaire will be preferred for data collection. The survey questionnaire will be standardized with at least 20 items that students will be expected to rate in response to the respective issue. In this case, a four-point Likert scale will be used to help the participants rate their level of agreement with a given statement. In the questionnaire, the different items of racial abuse and how much they affect student behavior and engagement in substance abuse will be included. The students will be expected to choose the scale that closely matches their level of agreement or disagreement. The questionnaire will be a valuable instrument for this study given that it will help standardize the analysis and increase reliability in answering the research questions.

Statement of purpose

This research study will be of huge relevance to higher urban education. The findings of this study will be valuable in helping address the prevailing problem of ethnic and racial labeling that affects the academic achievement of students. It is a study that will help establish programs that are inclusive and critical for creating an enabling learning environment for all students regardless of their ethnic backgrounds. From the research, the learning institutions will be able to understand the extent of the racial labeling problem and recommend approaches on how to solve this problem in support of individual rights to access high-quality education.


 This is a research proposal aimed at providing a guide on why, how, and when the main study will be conducted. The proposal has laid out a guideline of the research topic and the methods to be used in conducting this study. Much that is understood from the proposal is that there is a need to conduct a study addressing the issue of ethnic and racial labeling and how it causes substance abuse among baccalaureate graduates.