Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Rema Reynolds-Vassar, PhD

Committee Member

Carmen McCallum, PhD

Committee Member

David Anderson, EdD

Committee Member

Jamie Washington, MDiv, PhD


This study paints a picture of student affairs professionals’ work after a string of anti-Black racist incidents at a predominantly White Midwestern university. In this study, student affairs professionals were asked to recount their responses to three anti-Black racist incidents at the university during the fall semester of 2016:
• September, 20, 2016, “KKK Leave N*****s” at Sing Hall;
• September 21, 2016, “Fuck U N*****s” at Mise Hall; and
• October 31, 2016, “leave n*****s” at Cord Hall.

This study used critical race theory (CRT) counter-storytelling methods to uncover frontline student affairs professionals’ responses to anti-Black racist incidents at one predominantly White institution in the Midwest. Critical race theory (CRT) methods include storytelling, family history, biographies, scenarios, parables, testimonials, chronicles, and narratives. There were six participants in this study. The findings resulted in two themes and three actions per theme. The first theme was subordination in which the following actions emerged: (a) postponing actions, (b) protecting the institution, and (c) silencing students. The second theme was anti-subordination in which the following actions emerged: (a) initiate the conversation with students, (b) affirm students, and (c) support civil unrest. The goal of this study was to investigate and document the actions of student affairs professionals during the string of anti-Black racist attacks on campus. As a result of this study, professionals that supervise and oversee students across the field can recognize the deeper implications of their work during anti-Black racist incidents.