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Discourse Within University Presidents’ Responses to Racism: Revealing Patterns of Power and Privilege


by Veronica Jones - 2019

Background: Recent incidents of racism at predominantly White institutions (PWIs) have gained increased national attention. The backlash to individuals speaking out against racialized practices is often masked through discourse that dismisses the adverse effects of racism. Because university administrators often center their responses to incidents of racism on upholding free speech, scholars should analyze the ways that administrators’ responses might reinforce the existence of such racist behaviors and affect marginalized students.

Purpose and Research Questions: Rather than placing the burden on students to disrupt institutionalized racism, the author critically analyzed the discourse administrators utilized in their responses to understand the role of power in language. The following research questions informed the study: (a) what are the various characteristics of the discourse of university administrators as they respond to incidents of racism? and (b) how do university administrators’ responses to racism support or disrupt larger patterns of social power and privilege?

Research Design: The author utilized critical discourse analysis (CDA) to deconstruct relationships between the speech patterns of university presidents and larger Discourses about social power. Through a process of description, interpretation, and explanation, the author sought to reveal the underlying ideologies that go beyond surface-level discourse about free speech.

Data Collection and Analysis: Based on the context of increased police brutality and student protests on college campuses, the author reviewed data on recent incidents of racism at PWIs. The three final cases chosen for analysis represented varying approaches utilized by administrators to respond to racist incidents. Through multiple phases of coding, the author interpreted relationships between textual patterns to reveal a larger narrative about administrative accountability.

Findings: Each university president utilized a different approach to campus racism. The major discourse patterns represented were (a) a direct reproach of individuals as accountable for racism; (b) an indirect and theoretical approach to the reality of racism; and (c) a denial of or diversion from racism through authority.

Conclusions and Recommendations: Across the cases, administrators utilized speech that either downplayed the existence of racism or defined it through privilege or colorblind ideology. With the last incident resulting in the firing of the president, the analysis revealed ways that presidents can utilize emotional speech without substantial action. In order to be more responsive to marginalized communities, administrators need to intentionally engage with marginalized groups who are often silenced because their beliefs do not fit the standard of the dominant norm.



CIVILITY AND THE LANGUAGE OF RACIAL OPPRESSION


On October 27, 2015, the Intercultural Affairs Committee at Yale University disseminated an email to the student body regarding campus Halloween celebrations. Referencing the lack of cultural sensitivity and bigoted misrepresentations of ethnic costumes (such as modifying one’s skin tone for blackface and stereotypical images of Native American Pocahontas), the committee suggested several reflective questions to assist students in avoiding offense. In response, faculty member Erika Christakis distributed an email to students of Yale’s Silliman College, questioning the right of adults to exert control over youth:


Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious... a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition…Are we all okay with this transfer of power? (quoted in Jaschik, 2015)


Other professors in support of Christakis asserted this to be an issue of self-monitoring versus bureaucratic supervision, rather than support of racist discourse. While those professors advocated for her right to freedom of expression, her views downplayed the ridicule minoritized students often endure because of microaggressions that reinforce stereotypes of racial inferiority (Solorzano, Ceja, & Yosso, 2000; Sue et al., 2007). Ultimately, this incident connects to the larger issue of the foundational principles of White property rights and racist ideologies of privilege that remain uninterrogated (Harris, 1993; Patel, 2015). Such backlash to speaking out against racism reveals discourse that individuals utilize to maintain the privileges of the dominant group and to justify structural racism as the status quo.


Predominantly white institutions (PWIs) are often seen as sources of entitlement assumed for the dominant group. When the call for structural transformation to disrupt racialized practices against students of color, through microaggressions or other forms of structural violence (Essed & Goldberg, 2002; Hamer & Lang, 2015), is a threat to this property right, backlash is often masked through discourse that dismisses the adverse effects of racism. Indeed, the ideal of the university as a “safe” space refers more so to the safekeeping of the dominant group as the normative standard within the PWI racial hierarchy (Gusa, 2010). In response to students’ protests at Yale regarding the emotional anguish of racist incidents, administrators stated they would take no action against Christakis, emphasizing the addition of courses on diversity and race. In responding with discourse that affirms a commitment to diversity, administrators can transmit a symbolic image of civility that does not require structural transformation of the invisible forms of White privilege. Upholding free speech does not excuse administrators from acknowledging the existence of institutionalized racism.


The discourse of free speech is often used to reinforce White privilege and perpetuate the continuation of social inequities (Gordon & Johnson, 2003; Hill, 2008). Rather than relying on free speech as a framework for objectivity, the role of power and oppression demands a more critical assessment of the role of administrative discourse in the negotiated space of responding to racist speech. As Mueller, Dirks, and Picca (2007) stated, “Social reproduction of racism does not require people explicitly acting in racially hostile ways, but simply those who will uncritically acquiesce in the larger cultural order” (p. 333). Therefore, scholars must analyze the underlying linguistic ideologies within administrators’ responses that might perpetuate dominant discourses of privilege. Rather than placing the burden on students of color to disrupt the status quo of structural racism, the higher education community should analyze the ways in which administrative discourse might reinforce the very existence of such racist behaviors. Utilizing a critical discourse analysis framework, this study assessed the language in university presidents’ responses to racism and the ways that the language of power connects to the experiences of marginalized students of color. The following research questions informed the project:


1.

What are the various characteristics of the discourse of university administrators as they respond to incidents of racism?

2.

How do university administrators’ responses to racism support or disrupt larger patterns of social power and privilege?


RELEVANT LITERATURE


THE LINGUISTIC IDEOLOGIES OF FREE SPEECH


Language can be used as a tool in examining power dynamics and inequalities in society; discourse, in turn, allows analysis of the ways in which language perpetuates power relationships between individuals or social groups (Jaworski & Coupland, 2001). This is particularly important in the interpretation of language utilized by universities to respond to incidents of racism. Contextualization allows particular frames of interpretation of discourse through an acknowledgment that various social identities become salient in response to specific messaging (Erickson, 2004). Choice of language denotes a choice in position (Wetherell, 2001), with hidden meaning underlying the speech that individuals utilize to represent certain ideals. As Hill (2008) indicated, “linguistic ideologies are sets of interested positions about language that represent themselves as forms of common sense, that rationalize and justify the forms and functions of text and talk” (pp. 33–34). Privilege therefore can be reproduced in visible as well as obscure ways through linguistic ideologies.


University officials who hold power make both cognizant and unconscious judgments in representing various cultural, political, and social positions associated with a particular discourse. The political implications of social language are unavoidable due to the inferences that it creates for the distribution of resources and power (Gee, 2011). While university officials function under the guise that free speech allows them to remain objective to racist speech, particular forms of language carry meaning about which groups hold higher social status and power. Johnstone (2008) elaborated on the dangers of common sense talk:


Aspects of racism embedded in familiar ways of talking are more dangerous than overtly racist generalizations. People can be unaware of the ways their talk may be racist even if their explicit beliefs are not. (p. 63)


Language utilized by administrators, particularly in response to student demands for equity, often fails to acknowledge the institutional power dynamics that affect the influence of various groups (Hoffman & Mitchell, 2016). Because various institutional members make meaning of language based on their social positioning, is therefore essential to further examine the underlying racial hierarchies being reproduced by administrator discourse, beyond the boundaries of free speech.


CHALLENGING RACIST SPEECH THROUGH CRITICAL THEORY


Critical race theory (CRT) is a theoretical perspective that emerged from critical legal studies to explore inconsistencies within the law that validated racist practices within the United States (Morfin, Perez, Parker, Lynn, & Arrona, 2006). Six tenets are utilized to outline the foundational principles of CRT which affirm that racism is a permanent principle of American society (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995; Morfin et al., 2006). One particular tenet directly challenges the ideal of free speech: skepticism toward dominant legal claims of objectivity and colorblindness. The ideological belief that individuals should remain unrestricted in freely expressing speech is by no means objective, in that certain speech reinforces inferior beliefs about people of color. Hill (2008) argued the historical context of racist speech as an act:


Critical race theorists argue that this understanding is shown to be correct by the evidence that the targets of racial slurs experience them as physical assaults, feeling genuine bodily pain. Indeed, they argue, slurs incite to literal assault and often accompany it. (p. 55)


The debate about the role of free speech in higher education has recently intensified in response to student protesters who prevent speakers from promoting racist or politically charged views and the call for institutions to remain “politically neutral” (Flaherty, 2017). However, a critical perspective requires scholars to recognize that such silencing of students affected by microaggressive speech is a political act itself. Upholders of the right to racist speech fail to identify the unjust inequalities and privileges of systemic racism (Feagin, 2006, 2010) that affect racial groups in disproportionate ways.


Another key aspect of CRT is deconstructing Whiteness as property. Harris (1993) described the property functions of Whiteness as (a) rights of disposition, (b) rights to use and enjoyment, (c) reputation and status property, and (d) the absolute right to exclude. Critical theory acknowledges underlying PWI practices that uphold White ideologies. Gusa (2010) utilized the term White institutional presence (WIP) to deconstruct the ontological and epistemological ideologies of PWIs that reaffirm concepts of meritocracy and individualism. Based on ideals such as White privilege and Whiteness, WIP allows individuals through normative messages to assert power over people of color while shadowing their privilege as invisible. Gusa stressed, “When these messages and practices remain subtle, nebulous, and unnamed, they potentially harm the well-being, self-esteem, and academic success of those who do not share the norms of White culture” (p. 471). Acknowledgment of White ideologies as deeply embedded in the practices and language of PWIs is essential to the study of institutional responsiveness to racism, as university discourse can be unpacked to reveal normative messages that downplay the pervasiveness of racism and allow systemic inequities to remain unchallenged.


CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK


Discourse analysis as an analytical tool allows for a deeper understanding of the relationship between language use and social processes, and through this study I utilized critical discourse analysis (CDA) as a tool for interpreting the language choice of presidents in response to racism. CDA offers description, interpretation, and analysis of discourse applied in various power relations and social inequalities (Fairclough, 2001; Rogers, 2011; Rogers & Mosley, 2006). Two major areas of analysis are represented in CDA: form (the grammar and style of word usage) and function (the manner in which language is used to achieve an outcome). CDA explores the relationship between form and function to illustrate how certain language patterns have secured greater societal privileges over others (Rogers, 2011). As expounded by Gee (1996), discourse consists of the little “d” and big “D,” wherein little “d” represents the parts of grammar within in a particular conversation to convey meaning. “D” symbolizes the larger representation of social identities revealed through the ways in which people interact with each other. Gee asserted that these two distinct parts cannot be understood independently of one another, indicating that form and function inherently reveal how language is connected to the distribution of power in society (Rogers, 2004).


Communities of practice position the speaker as representative of specific ideologies. Related to the normative form of language utilized in free speech, viewpoints that go outside of the boundaries set by a dominant norm to challenge racist discourse are labeled as other:


They crucially involve a set of values and viewpoints about the relationships between people and the distribution of social goods, at the very least, about who is an insider and who is not, often who is “normal” and who is not. (Rogers, 2004, p. 5)


Because normed language values become embedded in societal practices, marginalized students of color who speak out against the Discourse of racist speech are often viewed as disrupting the accepted Discourse of free speech. Because White ideologies are deemed as the standard within PWIs (Gusa, 2010), the voices of racialized students are often silenced and rejected.


Gee (2011) defined the systematic process of CDA as describing, interpreting, and explaining the presence of social languages, situated meanings, cultural models, and Discourses within text and speech. Utilizing a CDA framework, I sought to analyze university responses to racism beyond the ideal of free speech to further explore messages of power and privilege represented in the discourse. CDA is instrumental in revealing contradictions between what is claimed as reality and what actually exists (Fairclough, 2015). Connected to the principles of CRT and WIP that highlight the presence of White ideologies in PWIs, I employed CDA to critique how the specific grammatical and structural language features chosen by university administrators reveal underlying sociopolitical Discourses of power. I challenged the ideals of civility and neutrality and the foundational, dominant normed principles of free speech often present in university administrators’ responses. Through CDA, I sought to extend a deeper analysis of surface-level institutional responses that often conceal the hidden discourse of power.


METHODOLOGY


DATA SOURCES


Student protests across the nation have recently increased, influenced by national incidents related to police brutality. While police have demonstrated profiling from a range of harassment to killing of unarmed Black individuals since the foundation of this country, social debate regarding this manifestation significantly increased after the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012. Therefore, my inquiry was limited to incidents of campus racism between 2013 to 2015 to explore how these cases were influenced by larger sociopolitical Discourse on race. Additionally, the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown influenced the creation of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, which sparked discourse on systemic oppression and was a mobilizing force for protests across the nation’s universities (Freelon, McIlwain, & Clark, 2016). This context of social disruption of racism allowed for me to set parameters on the cases that would provide the greatest insight on patterns of social power and privilege.  


I chose to limit my search to PWIs, more specifically public research universities that embrace ideals of inclusion and diversity. Through examining approximately 15 cases across institutions (see Table 1), I selected three final cases that received national coverage and resulted in a formal response from each president through multiple news and social media sources. Two of the cases involved racism in fraternity practices, which allowed an exploration of the “embedded benefits” of predominantly White organizations that disproportionately benefit from university support (Hurtado, Milem, Clayton-Pedersen, & Allen, 1999). One case involved a series of campus events related to the lack of institutional responsiveness to students who challenged the pervasiveness of campus racism. The cases are presented in chronological order, due to the fact that many university presidents experienced hypervisibility after the University of Oklahoma incident. The chosen cases represent varying approaches: 1) a direct reproach of individuals as accountable for racism, 2) an indirect and theoretical approach to the reality of racism, and 3) a denial of or diversion from racism through authority. With the last resulting in the firing of the president, the variability of these approaches reveals a larger narrative about the multifaceted effects of discourse on marginalized students but also the increasing awareness of power dynamics that call for administrative accountability.


Table 1. Data Sources

Data Source

University (Date)

President

Main Incident

Patterns of Discourse within Response

1

Emory University (2/13)

James Wagner

backlash/reference to 3/5 compromise

apology, redefining racism, privilege, passing blame

2

Texas A & M University (4/13)

R. Bowen Loftin

LGBT discrimination

free speech, core values, welcoming environment

3

University of Alabama (9/13)

Judy Bonner

sorority segregation/racism

mandate, optimism, historical storytelling, zero tolerance

4

University of Michigan (11/14)

Mary Sue Coleman

student demands/ lack of diversity

barriers to diversity, promised action, change

5

University of Chicago (11/14)

Robert Zimmer

racist costume/ Facebook threats

investigation, hate speech, core values, diversity

6

University of Iowa (12/14)

Sally Mason

Klu Klux Klan sculpture

adequacy of response, safety, apology, preventive action

7

Smith College (12/14)

Kathleen McCartney

backlash/response to police brutality

apology, all lives v. Black lives matter, ally for social justice

8

University of Missouri (12/14)

R. Bowen Loftin

racist speech on social media

disappointment, free speech, inclusive environment

9

Bucknell University (3/15)

John Bravman

radio broadcast of racial slurs

naming racist language, transparency, direct action

10

University of Texas at Austin (2/15)

Gregory Fenves

fraternity border patrol party

offensive, limitations on punishment, free speech

11

University of Oklahoma (3/15)

David Boren

fraternity chant/racial slurs

othering, colorblindness, direct action, zero tolerance

12

University of Maryland (3/15)

Wallace Loh

fraternity email/ racial/sexist slurs

racism as theoretical, civility, emotion, free speech

13

University of Louisville (10/15)

James Ramsey

backlash/ Mexican costume

apology, insensitivity, inclusive environment

14

Yale University (11/15)

Peter Salovey

racial tensions/ faculty insensitivity

failure, commitment to change, inclusivity, respect

15

University of Missouri (11/15)

Tim Wolfe

racial climate/lack of responsiveness

dismissing racism, authority, distancing, deflection


President David Boren, University of Oklahoma (initial media hypervisibility). A video surfaced in March 2015 of members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity singing a racist chant. White members, singing to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” incorporated several racial slurs insisting that a Black pledge would never be admitted:


There will never be a n----r SAE. There will never be a ni---r in SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he will never sign with me. There will never be a ni---r in SAE.


Following immediate national attention based on the dissemination of the video, President Boren, a White male and former governor of Oklahoma, released statements on social media condemning the racist speech and promising swift action. In addition, the president spoke out against the event during a student rally recognizing the national fraternity’s decision to disband the local chapter and the university’s resolution to shut down its campus housing. Boren held a press conference promising that the institution would complete an investigation of the individual students involved, ultimately resulting in the expulsion of the two students who led the chants for creating a “hostile learning environment” (OU Nightly, 2015; Svrluga, 2015). The texts utilized to analyze his discourse represent his official university statement as well as press conference transcript (see Appendix A).


President Wallace Loh, University of Maryland (reactionary after the Oklahoma incident). In January 2015, a White member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity distributed an email to six members of the organization regarding their upcoming rush event. This case went beyond a Black-White binary and included the intersection of race and gender; the email mentioned Asian, Black, and Indian women through racial and sexual epithets. The full text of the email read:


Regardless of the rush shirt let's get rachet as f--- during rush week. My d--k will be sucked and f---ed in compound basement whether you guys like it or not. Don't invite any ni---r gals or curry monsters or slanted eye chinks, unless they're hot. Ziggy you’re [sic] girl can come she's cool. Remember my ni--as, erect, assert, and insert, and above all else, f--- consent ... d--ks untouched.


Two days immediately following the incident at the University of Oklahoma, an unknown source released the email. On March 12, 2015, President Loh, a male of Chinese descent with former experience as a Vice Chancellor and Provost, released an official statement on the Office of the President’s website condemning the email. After insisting that an investigation was underway, Loh posted a series of tweets on Twitter sharing his sentiments of anger and sadness that compelled him to speak out “as a person, and not the university president.” The national office of Kappa Sigma released a statement reporting that the individual in question, who later submitted a resignation letter, was suspended from the fraternity (“An Important Statement,” 2015; Kohli, 2015). The texts analyzed for this case include Loh’s official statement as well as the series of tweets related to the incident (see Appendix B).


President Tim Wolfe, University of Missouri (resulting administrative accountability). A history of racist behavior existed on campus, with Black students increasingly expressing disapproval with the lack of administrative action. These incidents were underscored by the nationally reported killing of the unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown only 120 miles from the campus. Protesters during an October 2014 homecoming parade blocked President Tim Wolfe’s car so that their grievances could be heard. After Wolfe, a White male who took on the presidency as a former businessman, failed to acknowledge or interact with protesters, a student group, Concerned Student 1950, issued a list of demands calling for the president’s removal and institutional change related to racism and inclusion. While Wolfe did meet with the group to discuss their grievances, he did not agree to meet their demands. Subsequently, graduate student Jonathan Butler announced the onset of his hunger strike to protest the racist and homophobic campus culture. On November 6, 2015, when students asked Wolfe to define systemic oppression, he responded, “It's – systematic oppression is because you don't believe that you have the equal opportunity for success” (Pearson, 2015). After outraged students pointed out that he essentially blamed them for their oppression, in an act of solidarity, Black football players announced that they would not play or practice until Wolfe was fired. The next day Wolfe resigned at a public press conference. The texts for the analysis of this case are Wolfe’s responses to protesters and his final statement of resignation (see Appendix C).


DATA ANALYSIS


My analysis was informed by Gee’s (2011) approach to CDA that combines textual analysis with critical theory to explore social practices in relation to power. Through CDA as a framework, I examined the intersection of three areas of investigation: genre, style, and discourse (Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999; Rogers & Mosley, 2006). Genre relates to “ways of interacting,” with the ideal that certain speech genres are called upon based on the speaker’s purpose. Genre includes aspects of structure such as repetition, metaphors, and specific speech patterns. Style explores ways of being and relates to characteristics of speech that draw people to certain identities or social structures (Johnstone, 2008). Style for this analysis encompassed features such as active or passive voice, pronoun usage, and rational versus affective statements, all of which reveal the ways in which speakers position themselves in relation to an act. Finally, discourse denotes representation of certain ideologies, including the production and dissemination of language that adheres to particular speech embedded in societal practices (Rogers, 2011). Within the selected texts, I looked for Discourses such as White ideologies, systemic racism, and free speech that reveal the social power present in administrator dialogue.


The intersection of these three constructs allowed a critical look at the ideologies within grammatical text choices and enabled engagement with the larger societal Discourses that influence dominant normed speech. Because the analysis of language and power includes local, institutional, and societal domains (Fairclough, 1995; Rogers, 2011), I considered the context of each institution and larger metanarratives that shape university responses to racism. I conducted a preliminary in vivo coding that consisted of reading the texts for salient phrases and attributes to describe patterns in genre, style, and discourse. Then I constructed a coding chart (see Appendix D) to conduct pattern coding to develop major themes (Saldaña, 2016) and interpret and analyze relationships between the textual patterns and Discourses within the data. This analysis permitted “the position of offering (in a broad sense) interpretations of complex and invisible relationships” (Fairclough, 2015, p. 59) and was essential in searching for the ideologies transmitted by those in power. Through critical engagement with their speech patterns, I sought to disrupt the status quo of institutional responsiveness to racism.


POSITIONALITY


CDA is a powerful tool in exploring what is conveyed directly in the speech of those in power, but also what is absent. Essentially, “the goal is to uncover the ways in which discourse and ideology are intertwined” (Johnstone, 2008, p. 54). I recognize my role as analyst, given that what one “sees” in text and “what one chooses to emphasize in a description, are all dependent on how one interprets a text” (Fairclough, 2015, p. 59). As a Black critical race scholar, I informed my analysis through my lived experiences with differences across social groups to highlight the pervasiveness of racism in institutional functioning. Through the analysis I was cognizant that free speech is privileged as a dominant discourse favored over marginalized viewpoints that do not hold comparable power. Additionally, I recognize that university presidents often are not the writers of responses to campus racism and are significantly influenced by university legal counsel. Moreover, I do not aim to place responsibility solely on university presidents for crafting such responses, but rather seek to shed light on chosen texts that reveal larger institutionalized ideologies.


FINDINGS


UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA


This incident as receiving such national media attention represents the ways in which direct acknowledgment of racism was anticipated and provided by the president. David Boren approached this hypervisibility in two ways: focusing on campus racism as an individual act and othering the culprits through a colorblind stance. By doing so, Boren seemed to satisfactorily address the issue by personally condemning the behavior and expelling the students, but he also missed the opportunity to highlight larger systemic patterns of racism within the campus culture.


Juxtaposition of individual versus systemic racism. The discourse of President Boren’s responses displays the tension between underscoring the individual acts of racism on campus to hold individuals accountable and relating the incident to the larger issue of everyday racism embedded in United States society. In addressing the perpetrators as individual racists, Boren displayed affective speech to convey personal emotion to condemn bigoted behavior. The president proclaimed:


To those who have misused their free speech in such a reprehensible way, I have a message for you. You are disgraceful. You have violated all that we stand for.

To me it’s heartbreaking; I think it’s heartbreaking for every member of this community.


Through his criticism of the expelled students expressed through affective language, Boren positioned the university as an advocate for standing against racism. Boren utilized language such as “We’re different kinds of people” to illustrate the university as distinctive from conforming to White norms that dominant PWI institutional culture (Gusa, 2010). In this sense, the dominant White group, which assumingly makes up the “99 percent” Boren referred to, is painted as victims that should be separated from the negative character being attributed to the school:


The upstanding, bright thinking members of this community, the 99 percent. That one percent of the people through their bad behavior, cast this whole institution in a bad light.


Boren never explicitly stated support of students of color who were affected by the racist incident; at best he implied that they were included as part of the 99 percent “who condemn this kind of activity.”


Because Boren fashioned his speech to maintain civility by not directly naming the racial epithets and the group – Black students – to which they were directed, this discourse perpetuates the stripping of marginalized students’ voice. Boren invoked pronouns such as they and you in shunning racist actors as the “other” in the statements “you should not have the privilege of calling yourselves Sooners” and “they’re misusing our name.” The use of such pronouns is in stark contrast to his use of we, us, and our to rather than show distance relay a commonality of nonracist behavior. While in the first statement the racist individuals themselves are the audience, the latter implies he is speaking to the REST of the Sooners, even though they are potentially part of that racist community. In this sense, they and you operate in the same way because although the audience changes, in both cases racism is attributed to a group deemed as outsiders to the dominant norm. By creating an “us versus them” dichotomy of racism, Boren “pointed the finger” at a few culprits; this tactic allows individuals through the Discourse of White privilege to interpret this issue as not being a systemic dilemma.


The effect of colorblind discourse and distancing. Through repetition Boren continuously called upon the ideal of zero tolerance, with selected discourse othering the individuals as deviant from accepted community behavior:


There is zero tolerance for this kind of racist and bigoted behavior.

This is not who we are and we won’t tolerate it, not for one minute from anybody.

And we are just not gonna tolerate this kind of thing at the University of Oklahoma.


Within the discourse Boren made the connection between university values and social ideologies of Whiteness that downplay the pervasiveness of racism in institutional practices. Boren presented the ideal of a “Sooner” spirit embodying values within a very structured ideal of harmony that therefore depicted race as being irrelevant to the campus experience:


These values are not our values.

Real Sooners are not racist. Real Sooners are not bigots. Real Sooners believe in equal opportunity. Real Sooners treat all people with respect. Real Sooners love each other and take care of each other like family members.


Colorblind discourse creates the illusion of inclusion and progressive racial change but in fact can stall racial progress (Moore & Bell, 2011). By so closely connecting the ideal of inclusiveness to the university title, the president implicitly sent a message that counterarguments that racism exists in institutionalized university practices are invalid.


Boren utilized the juxtaposition between passive and active voice to stage the university as active punishers of the individuals while distancing the university from being violators of free speech rights. His swift reaction was praised by some as appropriate while criticized by others as hastily violating free speech. Boren asserted:


I direct that the house be closed and that members will remove their personal belongings from the house by midnight tomorrow.

I hope they think long and hard about how words can injure and hurt other people.

We’re investigating at this point in time, whether we will be able to take any individual action against students, evidence has to be collected.


Boren contrastingly took a direct and active stance, through statements including the pronoun I, and then structured responses as removed (i.e., words are racist and capable of injury rather than the individual). The president firmly associated himself as the giver of consequences in his initial statement and in his latter press conference increasingly emphasized adherence to a proper investigation. Boren focused on affective language to convey empathy to those affected:


And it really, it’s very hurtful, to think that our community, which is so strong and so

positive in so many ways, is being held up by a few people.


Through use of statements such as this, Boren failed to challenge systemic racist practices within the actual campus community. The president took on a public relations lens in the sense that he sought to position himself as an advocate for social justice regarding the larger sociocultural context of racism. Yet in clinging to the image of the university as being “strong” and “positive,” he missed the opportunity to situate the incident through more critical discourse that could incite meaningful dialogue regarding systemic institutional change.


UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND


This second data source represents how previous discourse influences the language one invokes to transmit an idea. The way in which Wallace Loh articulated the university’s stance reflected how the incident was situated within the nationally publicized racism at the University of Oklahoma, which occurred two days beforehand. Loh addressed his incident with the following tactics: naming racism in theoretical ways that removed the action from individual responsibility and distancing himself from liability through a request for civility. Ultimately, through his approach he downplayed marginalized students’ lived experiences with racism and protected his position of privilege.


Framing racism as theoretical rather than a lived reality. President Loh exhibited a shift from direct reprimand of the students to blame for the incident to an indirect approach to racism. Given that President Boren received varied reactions to his swift response, perhaps Loh was prompted to use caution in crafting his reaction. President Loh contrasted President Boren’s condemnation of the individual racists through impersonal language:


On Tuesday, March 10, 2015, the University of Maryland became aware of an email dated January 2014, 15 months ago.


Noticeably, President Loh did not utilize first person in his first statement; through the style invoked Loh distanced himself from directly reacting to the racist incident. Alternately, he utilized third person to position the university in the general sense as the reactor.


In further removing himself from accountability, the president referred to the fraternity as the party responsible for any reprimand of the individual who sent the racist email:


 We are in contact with the University chapter of Kappa Sigma and they have taken swift and decisive action in this matter.

At their request, the University has committed to provide educational training on diversity and respect for the entire fraternity.


In positioning the fraternity as the actors, Loh also inferred the fraternity as the victim of the racist language of one of its members rather than the organization cultivating such behavior.


Another aspect of style Loh employed to convey distancing is the use of personification within his reliance on third person; rather than referring to the individual as being the racist actor, the president placed the behavior on the abstract email as having human characteristics:


The vulgar language in the email expresses views that are reprehensible to our campus community.

We are deeply saddened by the impact this email is having on our community.

The January 2014 email that emerged a few days ago has shaken me.


Even though Loh used affective language to convey emotion, through personification he removed blame from the culprits in a way that speculated the ideal of racism. In making racism a theoretical concept not tied to an actual individual, he did not acknowledge overt racism on campus as a realized threat to the racialized and gendered groups mentioned in the email. In referring to the incident as “vulgar language,” President Loh failed to name the realized microaggressive behaviors in the campus community.


Civility and Power


Through a series of tweets Loh, while not specifically referring to a racist individual, indirectly condemned racist and sexist speech. However, the president distinguished his emotional reaction as a human and not as an admonishing administrator:


There are times when I feel compelled to speak out as a person, and not as a university president. This is one of those times.

The utter disregard for decency, the racist invective, the mindless disparaging of sexual consent, has left me angry and profoundly saddened.


In later tweets regarding the ideal of free speech, Loh reclaimed his authoritative role:


A [sic] president, I will of course ensure due process and protect the free speech guaranteed by our Constitution.

It is one of our nation's core values that the government should not be able to tell us what we can and cannot say.


By stripping his position of power from the statements that convey emotion and condemn racism, Loh suggested that an administrator should preference neutrality over compassion. This is particularly significant in marginalized students’ perceptions of administrative support.


Given that his responses on social media were disseminated to an unlimited number of viewers, Loh emphasized rhetorical questions that provoke thought and charge the reader to reflect on free speech rather than formally providing a university stance on the issue:


Where does free speech and hate speech collide? What should prevail?

What justification can we have that tacitly condones this kind of hate?


In line with the ideal of politeness, the president invited his audience to engage in dialogue in response to not only his commentary but also the racist incident:


I want to engage in a conversation with you. Are some of you feeling the same way? Post your thoughts, your point of view. #LohChat

Social media can sometimes be uncivil. Let's try to use it to talk about this important issue, to make things better, to heal. #LohChat


The presence of politeness in this response to racism works to protect racist speech in several ways. First, Loh referred to the uncivil manner of social media, implying that emotionally charged responses were not welcomed. This request places the onus on marginalized students to “remain civil” in response to racist individuals, who in contrast acted with malice and racial disdain. Second, rather than seeking consensus he instead inquired if others in the campus community were experiencing his emotional reaction. This seemingly neutral discourse reveals how the lived experiences of racism for marginalized students are often downplayed.


UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI


Whereas David Boren exhibited a direct reprimand of racism and Wallace Loh demonstrated an indirect discussion of racism as theoretical, Tim Wolfe appeared to elicit an approach on the farthest end of the spectrum. Tim Wolfe’s discourse within his reaction to marginalized students’ demands and his resignation reflect a lack of responsiveness to his campus community and an effort to maintain his authority. He did so in the following ways: asserting himself as the person responsible for redefining diversity and deflecting from the root causes of racism. He in effect established the university administration as one that shut out disenfranchised students; such a rigid approach in the current era of accountability resulted in the need for the institution to initiate change through his removal.


Defining diversity through Whiteness. Through various linguistic choices, President Wolfe distanced himself from racist ideologies and also attempted to establish commonality with marginalized students in inconsistent ways, a tactic that allowed him to claim a personal commitment to tackling racism. Moreover, he never directly named racism and instead situated it through a White frame of Discourse that downplayed privilege and marginalization. In phrases such as “It is clear to all of us that change is needed” and “Clearly, we are open to listening to all sides,” repetition of the term clear seemingly dismissed previous counterarguments of his disregard of Black students during the timeline of various protests. He utilized pronouns such as we not to show commonality, but instead to exert distance between the students demanding change and those in power. In response to the “thoughtfulness and passion” that student protesters exhibited, Wolfe proclaimed:


My administration has been meeting around the clock and has been doing a tremendous amount of reflection on how to address these complex matters.


In the context of his previous encounters with protesters in which he described systemic racism as a perception, he invoked language that inadvertently evidenced that the marginalized student community demanding the very change he claims to address was being left out of the dialogue.


In generically naming systemic racism as “complex matters” and “these very complex, societal issues,” he again failed to specify the reality of institutionalized racism on campus. Wolfe further utilized active voice to take credit for addressing campus racism:


The university began work on a systemwide diversity and inclusion strategy plan…as part of my strategic goals. The majority of items listed on the Concerned Student 1950 List of Demands were already included in the draft of the strategy.


Wolfe, through the style patterns applied, essentially opposed the empowerment of marginalized students. Phrases such as “campus representatives” and “multiple stakeholders” allowed him to declare connectivity without committing to truly partnering with Concerned Student 1950, the group demanding change. Because Wolfe asserted that he was already working on the issues within the group’s formal demands, he in effect diminished their voices about the urgency of campus racism by taking credit for identifying the issues. He claimed diversity as an institutional value, yet his dismissal of marginalized students’ demands in his response stood as resistant to their work (Ahmed, 2012). Through this paradox, Wolfe utilized his positioning to divert his unresponsiveness with language that upheld authority to define diversity, apart from the input of those individuals he was supposed to represent.


Accountability as a deflection. President Wolfe continuously played with the ideal of affective and emotional speech to portray compassion and empathy for marginalized students, but he also utilized sentiment to deflect from the true issue of institutional racism. Again, failing to mention the root cause of racism in his resignation speech, Wolfe instead focused on seemingly validating the campus community:


To our students: from Concerned Student 1950 to our grad students, football players and other students, the frustration and anger that I see is clear, real, and I don't doubt it for a second.

To the faculty and staff who have expressed their anger, their frustration, this, too, is

real.


Several forms and functions of discourse were present in this speech. Whereas Wolfe previously used the pronoun our solely to refer to administrative decision-making power, he utilized the pronoun our in his resignation to show a sense of responsibility to the students. Additionally, he referred to the frustration and anger of students, faculty, and staff, as “clear” and “real,” asserting that he did not “doubt it.” The authenticity of Wolfe’s validation is uncertain, as he referenced that his friends and supporters “might be frustrated.” Their emotions, now out of a public relations stance only as a possibility, were specified as frustration and not the anger assigned to the marginalized communities; through this distinction he effectively portrayed certain individuals, those who challenged his presidency, in a negative light.


Wolfe appeared to take accountability for his unresponsiveness to a racialized campus climate, yet he represented a deflection of accountability in his rhetorical question:


Why did we get to this very difficult situation? It is my belief we stopped listening to

each other. We didn't respond or react.

Change comes from listening, learning, caring and conversation. We have to respect each other enough to stop yelling at each other and start listening, and quit intimidating each other.


Many would argue that this situation was indeed caused by his failure to respond and engage in meaningful dialogue with the students demanding to be heard. Further, he invoked commonality through the use of the pronoun we to covertly shift responsibility to the disenfranchised students as well as the administration. While he criticized actions such as yelling and intimidating with himself included, he seemed to admonish the protesters and other marginalized individuals for their specific reactions. The president established Whiteness not only by critiquing the overt behaviors disenfranchised individuals are often confined to when ignored, but he also claimed the authority to decide how diversity, change, and racism should be addressed. He concluded this exertion of power in being able to control the narrative by declaring Missouri’s focus should not be on “what we can’t change, which is what happened in the past.” His failure to recognize the historic disadvantages for people of color that persist today as products of systemic racism (Feagin, 2006) problematizes the genuine nature of his call for change.


DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS


This study evidenced the ways that university responses often reinforce racism. Across the cases, administrators utilized patterns of speech that either downplayed the existence of racism or defined it through a lens of privilege or colorblind ideology. Due to the fact that the presidents were not only responding to their campus constituents but also in many ways reactive to the larger sociopolitical responses to the incidents publicized before them, the analysis revealed the ways that presidents can relay affective speech without substantial action. In essence, administrators can provide surface-level discourse in ways that fulfill their public relations duties as an overseer of campus life, but still hold no true relational connections to the lived experiences of marginalized campus groups. Considering the identities of the administrators as male and majority White, they represented the control of higher education leadership through a dominant racialized and gendered perspective. Following recent events in Charlottesville during which White nationalists marched at the University of Virginia, researchers are calling for administrators to move past their “raceless” responses to acknowledge the trauma of these incidents in more transparent ways (Bauer-Wolf, 2017). The administrators in this study failed to recognize their own privilege in relation to the oppression occurring around them. Through a critical lens to university responsiveness, I present several implications for the ways in which universities can be more responsive to marginalized communities.


First, scholars must challenge the ways those in power often control a university’s intellectual property and the meaning of symbolic ideals such as diversity (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995). For example, in a subsequent incident at Oklahoma, Boren was challenged on the ideal of Whiteness as property. In response to requests of students in the campus group Indigenize OU to disassociate the words “Sooner” and “boomer” from the university’s identity, President Boren stated that such a change was highly unlikely. Boren stressed, “The words in their modern context are no longer tied to the history of the Oklahoma land settlement. They have taken on a meaning of their own, which stands mainly for strong support for our state and university” (“Native Student Group,” 2015). Native American students met with the president to discuss how marginalized indigenous communities directly associate the terms with Oklahoma land runs in which Whites massacred Native Americans. As a result, President Boren declared the second Monday of October, commonly known as Columbus Day, as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Boren stepped away from his previous attempt to control meaning and instead acknowledged the historical context of forced migration. This illustrates the power of marginalized students to challenge administrators to identify the effects of systemic racism.


Additionally, the recurring example of symbolic discourse over reality in this study calls attention to the need for intentionality from institutions faced with increased calls for systemic change. This is currently occurring on campuses across the country where administrators are being compelled to have dialogue about the manifestation of racist traditions through campus statues associated with racial histories such as the Confederate Army or Ku Klux Klan. The discourse represented in this study’s analysis revealed a heavy reliance on the ideology of individual racism as a cancer to the institution that could be removed rather than recognition of institutionalized racism (Feagin, 2013). Instead of continuing to hide behind the veil of symbolism in shying from an institution’s racist origins, university officials can engage in discourse that begins to acknowledge the meanings for marginalized groups who are silenced because their beliefs do not match those set by the dominant norm.


For future studies, critical discourse analysis can make a significant contribution to higher education by compelling various receivers to challenge surface-level discourse that affirms White ideologies. Bonilla-Silva (2014) cautioned against the status quo in the production and reinforcement of ideologies: “Whereas rulers receive solace by believing they are not involved in the terrible ordeal of creating and maintaining inequality, the ruled are charmed by the almost magic qualities of a hegemonic ideology” (p. 74). Increased social media usage can connect administrators to the lived realities of marginalized students. For example, in response to President Loh’s comment that the incident at Maryland had “shaken” him, a Black student replied, “@presidentloh: How has this shaken you? Why are you so surprised? Ask any Black student and they will tell you this has been going on.” Because social media provides interplay between the speaker and receiver, this interchange exemplifies the disconnect of those in power to the pervasiveness of racism experienced by students. University speech has consequences for the people who are affected by the reaffirmed transmission of White ideologies. Therefore, it is the intention that members of the higher education community utilize this study as a stepping stone to discuss the ways in which language that conveys underlying messages of power and privilege must be challenged to facilitate systemic change.


CONCLUSION


Word choices can reveal a speaker’s orientation to one group or social practice over another. The critical discourse analysis of university presidents’ responses to racism in this study serves as a tool to think more critically about the forms of speech that contribute to the White ideologies deemed as relevant norms for a campus community. This study utilized tools of style, genre, and discourse to explore the underlying messages transmitted by administrators about interconnected linguistic ideologies regarding power and the lived experiences of marginalized students. The findings from this research elicit the cautionary need of those in power to provide a responsive reaction while avoiding the othering of racism as an individual act rather than an institutionalized occurrence. Scholars must challenge discourse that privileges free speech or race neutrality to truly invest in discourse that empowers people of color, who over time have called for changes that disrupt the status quo of systemic racism. If we are to critically engage in the work of social justice, the higher education community must hold those in positions of power accountable for the language that they invoke.


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APPENDIX A


President Boren’s Official Statement in Response to Sigma Epsilon Video


To All Students, Faculty, and Staff


To those who have misused their free speech in such a reprehensible way, I have a message for you. You are disgraceful. You have violated all that we stand for. You should not have the privilege of calling yourselves “Sooners.” Real Sooners are not racist. Real Sooners are not bigots. Real Sooners believe in equal opportunity. Real Sooners treat all people with respect. Real Sooners love each other and take care of each other like family members.


Effective immediately, all ties and affiliations between this University and the local SAE chapter are hereby severed. I direct that the house be closed and that members will remove their personal belongings from the house by midnight tomorrow. Those needing to make special arrangements for positions shall contact the Dean of Students.


All of us will redouble our efforts to create the strongest sense of family and community. We vow that we will be an example to the entire country of how to deal with this issue. There must be zero tolerance for racism everywhere in our nation.


David L. Boren

President

University of Oklahoma


President Boren’s Press Conference


I think the best way for us to send not only a message to this campus, but a message all across the country, is that there is zero tolerance for this kind of racist and bigoted behavior. That’s something we all have to learn, I think in this whole country. And we’re, we’re going through the learning process right here. And that is wherever we are, whether it’s in casual conversation or in other activities, anytime there are racist remarks made – we must speak out as Americans if we’re gonna put an end to this kind of nonsense all across the country. And by taking a zero tolerance policy here at the University. And by making it clear we won’t tolerate this. These people, as I said this morning, don’t deserve to be called Sooners. They’re misusing our name. Sooners are not racists and bigots. These values are not our values. We’re different kinds of people. And it really, it’s very hurtful, to think that our community, which is so strong and so positive in so many ways, is being held up by a few people. And I will just say it will not be tolerated. That is why that house is immediately closed, that is why those young men will have to have their belongings out of the house by midnight tomorrow. And as they pack their bags, I hope they think long and hard about what they’ve done. I hope they think long and hard about how words can injure and hurt other people. This is not our way, these are not our values. This is not who we are and we won’t tolerate it, not one minute from anybody. So those students will be, will be out of that house by midnight tomorrow night. The house will be closed, and uh, as far as I’m concerned it won’t be back, at least not while I’m president of the University. Not gonna come back. [applause] It’s time to send messages that are very strong and very clear. So, again I want to commend our students. They’re the 99 percent of the great citizens of this university. Our faculty, our staff, and above all our students. Who stood and have spoken out for our real values. And I really appreciated those who came this morning and did just exactly that. THEY have my full support. And we are just not gonna tolerate this kind of thing at the University of Oklahoma. I will tell you I don’t really have too much more to tell you other than what I said today. Obviously the video was taken by certain individuals, um, people who didn’t, I believe, agree with what was going on. Our students didn’t agree and I’m very proud of the fact that they helped expose this kind of activity so that we can know about it. And so we can take action. And then I think the only way to keep faith with our students is to take this kind of action, so I view it this way. To me it’s heartbreaking; I think it’s heartbreaking for every member of this community. The upstanding, bright thinking members of this community, the 99 percent. That one percent of the people through their bad behavior, cast the whole institution in a bad light. We are, in addition to what I said this morning; I’ve had our legal staff looking at this. I’ve had also our EEOC people looking at this. Uh, and, um, we are commencing an investigation, not only of the chapter, because that action’s already been taken. About the chapter we know enough, to have closed the chapter immediately. And uh, but we are also going to look at any individual perpetrators, particularly those that we think have taken a lead in this kind of activity. And we have a student code which prevents discrimination of any kind. It prevents those who have created a hostile environment for the education of learning by our students. And it’s based upon Title IV of the Civil Rights law of 1964. So we’re examining and we’re investigating at this point in time, whether we will be able to take any individual action against students. Evidence has to be collected. That process to stand constitutional muster must be very carefully directed. And so with great care we’re conducting an investigation that is appropriate, into the individual actions of students to see if we can take additional action against those individual student leaders who were most involved in this incident, in addition to taking action against the chapter of the fraternity itself. I think that’s ongoing, I don’t expect that to be something we can come to conclusions about instantly. I think it’s gonna take some time, as I said, requires great care. But we are conducting an investigation into individual behavior as well as chapter behavior.



APPENDIX B


President Loh’s Official Statement in Response to Kappa Sigma Email


March 12, 2015

An Important Statement from President Wallace Loh


On Tuesday, March 10, 2015, the University of Maryland became aware of an email dated January 2014, 15 months ago. The vulgar language in the email expresses views that are reprehensible to our campus community. We immediately met with the individual involved and a University investigation is currently underway, led by the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct. We are in contact with the University chapter of Kappa Sigma and they have taken swift and decisive action in this matter. At their request, the University has committed to provide educational training on diversity and respect for the entire fraternity. The University of Maryland remains committed to our core values of respect for human dignity, diversity, and inclusiveness. We are deeply saddened by the impact this email is having on our community.


Sincerely,

 

Wallace D. Loh

President

University of Maryland


President Loh’s Response via Twitter


Wallace D. Loh @presidentloh

There are times when I feel compelled to speak out as a person, and not as a university president. This is one of those times.

1:12 PM - 13 Mar 2015


Wallace D. Loh @presidentloh

The January 2014 email that emerged a few days ago has shaken me.

1:13 PM - 13 Mar 2015


Wallace D. Loh @presidentloh

The utter disregard for decency, the racist invective, the mindless disparaging of sexual consent, has left me angry and profoundly saddened

1:13 PM - 13 Mar 2015


Wallace D. Loh @presidentloh

A president, I will of course ensure due process and protect the free speech guaranteed by our Constitution.

1:14 PM - 13 Mar 2015


Wallace D. Loh @presidentloh

It is one of our nation's core values that the government should not be able to tell us what we can and cannot say.

1:17 PM - 13 Mar 2015


Wallace D. Loh @presidentloh

Protecting speech, however, does not mean agreeing with it.

1:17 PM - 13 Mar 2015


Wallace D. Loh @presidentloh

And quite honestly, I am struggling with justifying this email as free speech.

1:18 PM - 13 Mar 2015


Wallace D. Loh @presidentloh

It has hurt and offended members of our campus family. Including me.

1:21 PM - 13 Mar 2015


Wallace D. Loh @presidentloh

Where does free speech and hate speech collide? What should prevail?

1:24 PM - 13 Mar 2015


Wallace D. Loh @presidentloh

What justification can we have that tacitly condones this kind of hate?

1:27 PM - 13 Mar 2015


Wallace D. Loh @presidentloh

I want to engage in a conversation with you. Are some of you feeling the same way? Post your thoughts, your point of view. #LohChat

1:30 PM - 13 Mar 2015


Wallace D. Loh @presidentloh

Social media can sometimes be uncivil. Let's try to use it to talk about this important issue, to make things better, to heal. #LohChat

1:32 PM - 13 Mar 2015


APPENDIX C


Tim Wolfe’s Response to Student Protests


It is clear to all of us that change is needed, and we appreciate the thoughtfulness and passion which have gone into the sharing of concerns. My administration has been meeting around the clock and has been doing a tremendous amount of reflection on how to address these complex matters.

Clearly, we are open to listening to all sides, and are confident that we can come together to improve the student experience on our campuses. We want to find the best way to get everyone around the table and create the safe space for a meaningful conversation that promotes change. We will share next steps as soon as they are confirmed. 

In conjunction with campus representatives, the university began work on a systemwide diversity and inclusion strategy plan and metrics for the University of Missouri system as part of my strategic goals (see 1.4.i of the System Strategic Plan) as approved by the Board of Curators in summer 2015. 

Our due date for announcing the strategy was April 2016, having allowed for multiple stakeholders (e.g., faculty, staff, students, consultants) across the system to provide input into the plan. 

The majority of items listed on the Concerned Student 1950 List of Demands were already included in the draft of the strategy. While the student list provides more detail and more specific metrics than had been established in the UM System plan, we had anticipated providing specificity and detail to the plan over the coming months.

In the meantime, I am dedicated to ongoing dialogue to address these very complex, societal issues as they affect our campus community.


Tim Wolfe’s Resignation Speech


I am resigning as president of the University of Missouri system today. ...


My motivation in making this decision comes from love. I love MU, Columbia, where I grew up, and the state of Missouri. I have thought greatly about this decision, and it's the right thing to do. The response to this announcement I'm sure will bring joy to some and anger to others, and that's why we're here today. So let me speak to why this is so important at this time.


To our students: from Concerned Student 1950 to our grad students, football players and other students, the frustration and anger that I see is clear, real, and I don't doubt it for a second.


To the faculty and staff who have expressed their anger, their frustration, this, too, is real.


To my friends and my supporters that have been so gracious and have sent so many emails in the past and calls with support, I understand that you might be frustrated, as well.


So the question really is, is why did we get to this very difficult situation. It is my belief we stopped listening to each other. We didn't respond or react. We got frustrated with each other, and we forced individuals like Jonathan Butler to take immediate action and unusual steps to effect change.


This is not, I repeat not, the way change should come about. Change comes from listening, learning, caring and conversation. We have to respect each other enough to stop yelling at each other and start listening, and quit intimidating each other. ...


Unfortunately this has not happened. And I just want to stand before you today, and I take full responsibility for this frustration, and I take full responsibility for the inaction that has occurred.


I ask everybody — from students to faculty to staff to my friends, everybody — use my resignation to heal and to start talking again. To make the changes necessary, and let's focus on changing what we can change today and in the future, and not what we can’t change, which is what happened in the past.


I truly love everybody here and the very institution, and my decision to resign comes out of love, not hate. I’d like to read some Scripture that’s given me strength. I hope it provides you with some strength as well, as we think about this next. I have to also to give credit to my daughter, who reminded me of the Scripture. Psalm 46 verse 1: ‘The Lord is my refuge and my strength, my very present help in trouble.’


We need to use my resignation — please, please — use this resignation to heal, not to hate as we move forward today for a brighter tomorrow. God bless all of you, and thank you for this wonderful opportunity to" serve "the University of Missouri system. Thank you.



APPENDIX D


Analysis: Forms and Functions of University Responses to Racism


Genre (Rogers, 2011; Rogers & Mosley, 2006)

Changing the topic

Consensus/reference to unified stance

Dismissing counterarguments/counterpoints

Making a counterpoint

Metaphors

Referring to previous discourse to support arguments

Repetition

Rhetorical questions

Silences

Staying on Topic


Style (Johnstone, 2008; Rogers, 2011; Rogers & Mosley, 2006)

Active voice

Affective/emotional speech

Nominalizations (turning verbs into nouns; e.g., discrimination instead of discriminated against)

Passive voice

Politeness

Pronoun usage showing distancing (you, they)

Pronoun usage showing commonality (we, us)

Use of first person

Use of third person


Discourse (Feagin, 2013; Gusa, 2010; Rogers, 2011)

Acknowledgment of systemic racism

Asserting zero tolerance to racism

Colorblindness (everyone shares the same feelings/experiences, rendering race as irrelevant)

Connecting university titles/traditions to White ideologies

Establishing Whiteness (failure to recognize superiority and advantage over people of color)

Free speech favored over marginalized students

Giving voice to marginalized groups

Racism as an individual act to be othered




Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 121 Number 4, 2019, p. 1-32
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22609, Date Accessed: 12/3/2021 2:36:36 AM

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About the Author
  • Veronica Jones
    University of North Texas
    E-mail Author
    VERONICA JONES, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at the University of North Texas for the Higher Education Program. Her research focuses on men of color in higher education, student engagement and activism, and institutional commitment to equity and diversity. Her recent publications include “The Heterogeneity of Resistance: How Black Students Utilize Engagement and Activism to Challenge PWI Inequalities” and “Educating through Microaggressions: Self-Care for Diversity Educators.”
 
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