Summer 2022



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Colleen Bell

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Javier Gutierrez

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Jayne Sommers


College student demographics are shifting campuses to a more racially diverse student population while the racial homogeneity of practitioners remains overwhelmingly White. Research shows disparities in campus climate and sense of belonging between White students and students who are Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC). Literature confirms that racial representation of faculty and staff have a strong influence on the experiences of BIPOC students, and that White practitioners have a duty to address their own racial identity within their work in order to contribute to inclusive institutions committed to strengthening equitable access to higher education. Using Culturally Responsive Practices (CRP) as a framework, this dissertation uses reflective narrative analysis to examine the ways White student affairs professionals articulate the effects of their whiteness on their campus interactions with racially diverse students and colleagues. Interview participants were solicited through professional network referrals based on a strict set of criteria including that they must identify as white, identify as being committed to social justice, work at a Historically White College or University in the greater Twin Cities area, work within a student affairs functional area with contact to new students on campus, and fit within a pre-set range of professional experience. Findings provided rich evidence of the socialized racialization of White practitioners leading to an internalization of White supremacist characteristics influencing professional practices. Findings also depicted strong ways professionals actively resist White normativity through professional practices. This research confirms the need for White practitioners to participate in the vulnerable work of racial self-awareness in order to support equitable student success on campus. Additionally, campus leaders, professional organizations, and graduate preparation programs must model a commitment to social justice and racial self-awareness, provide purposeful professional development, and promote campus policies that align campus mission and values to address campus climate and belonging across different racial groups. Future research could focus on applying CRP to examine the influence of other privileged social identities on the work of student affairs practitioners, or expanding on whiteness through a larger participant pool.

Research Methodology



Social Justice








School of Education Student Capstone Theses and Dissertations