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Impact of Marginalization


Marginalization is the process of pushing a particular group or groups of people to the edge of society by not allowing them an active voice, identity, or place in it. Through both direct and indirect processes, marginalized groups may be relegated to a secondary position or made to feel as if they are less important than those who hold more power or privilege in society. At Syracuse University, students from marginalized groups can be the target of negative beliefs, behaviors, or judgements from others. Individuals and groups can be marginalized on the basis of multiple aspects of their identity, including but not limited to: race, gender or gender identity, ability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, sexuality, age, and/or religion. Some individuals identify with multiple marginalized groups, and may experience further marginalization as a result of their intersecting identities.

Marginalization can manifest in subtle or overt actions including:

  • Use of derogatory language
  • Assuming someone’s accomplishments are not based on merit
  • Expecting individuals to act a certain way based on stereotypes held about another’s identity
  • Denying someone academic or professional opportunities because of their identity (i.e. racism, sexism, ableism)
  • Not providing equal access to certain resources based on membership in a particular group
  • Assuming preferred pronoun without asking
  • Assuming sexual orientation without asking
  • Overlooking, criticizing, or interfering with other’s cultural or religious traditions and values
  • Systemic and/or institutionalized barriers to access and support


Marginalization can have a negative impact on students’ psychological, emotional and physical health. Some possible psychological and emotional responses to marginalization include:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Self-blame
  • Sadness
  • Frustration
  • Hopelessness
  • Resentment
  • Powerlessness
  • Self-Doubt
  • Isolation
  • Stress
  • Confusion
  • Feeling invisible or not heard

Additionally, students may experience social, economic, and academic strain as a result of marginalization. Possible academic and social impacts might include:

  • A reluctance to interact with others
  • Difficult affording books, food, or sufficient housing options
  • Limitations accessing academic spaces, community locations, and/or course materials and course assignments
  • Discomfort participating in class discussions, study groups, student organizations, intramural sports and other institutional sponsored events
  • Fear that one’s actions may confirm an existing stereotype, which is also known as stereotype threat
  • Poor academic performance on exams and/or assignments due to negative impacts on concentration and emotional well-being
  • Internalization of negative messages
  • Ineffective coping such as disengaging, avoidance, and substance use


It can be difficult to find effective ways to cope with the effects of marginalization. Here are some recommendations that may help to minimize the negative impact of such experiences:

  • Build a support network
  • Get involved with campus groups or organizations that welcome and celebrate individual difference
  • Utilize opportunities to become involved in social action that addresses various forms of oppression or marginalization
  • Don’t ignore or minimize your experiences- Communicate your experiences to someone in your support network.
  • Utilize on and off campus resources for support


The Counseling Center has a diverse staff and strives to understand the harmful impacts of marginalization and oppression. We value your experiences and try to create safe space for you to feel heard, supported, and empowered. We offer a variety of counseling services which may help you process your experiences, develop new coping skills, and address barriers to your emotional well-being and academic success.   

The Counseling Center staff is committed to social justice and we attempt to address marginalization at the individual and group level of Syracuse University.  We believe that standing together, we can all reduce marginalization and oppression.  Read more here for our stance on social justice.    


As members of society, we all share in the responsibility of addressing marginalization through advocacy, participation in political processes that effect public policy, and striving to become more self-aware and more aware of factors that contribute to marginalization and oppression. Some specific ways to address marginalization on an individual level include:

  • Say something or do something when you witness acts of injustice, intolerance, or oppression.
  • Become aware of your own biases and beliefs about other people or groups of people
  • Monitor and explore your own use of language and the ways in which you might engage in marginalizing communication and/or behaviors.
  • Identify and recognize ways in which you benefit from privileged aspects of your own identity. 
  • Seek opportunities to become knowledgeable about people, cultures, traditions, and values that differ from your own.
  • Get involved in organizations that promote social justice.
  • Participate in campus dialogues such as C.A.R.E Dialogues that address issues of marginalization and oppression.
  • Take courses that explore issues related to marginalization and oppression.
  • Foster diversity at an early age so that children can learn to accept and appreciate differences.

Diversity PSA