Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13

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.

To view the full-text for this article you must be signed-in with the appropriate membership. Please review your options below:

Store a cookie on my computer that will allow me to skip this sign-in in the future.
Send me my password -- I can't remember it
Purchase this Article
Purchase Discourse Within University Presidents’ Responses to Racism: Revealing Patterns of Power and Privilege
Individual-Resource passes allow you to purchase access to resources one resource at a time. There are no recurring fees.
Become a Member
Online Access
With this membership you receive online access to all of TCRecord's content. The introductory rate of $25 is available for a limited time.
Print and Online Access
With this membership you receive the print journal and free online access to all of TCRecord's content.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 121 Number 4, 2019, p. 1-32
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22609, Date Accessed: 9/25/2021 12:02:56 AM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
Article Tools
Related Articles

Related Discussion
Post a Comment | Read All

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.”
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue