Writings from the margins: An examination of voice, presence, and agency
Stanton Schnebly, Heidi Adielia
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Empowering individuals to feel that their voices are heard, their presence matters and that they have agency in addressing campus issues is an important part of creating an inclusive campus climate in higher education. This study provides a greater understanding of marginalization and mattering within a university setting. The existing literature and research about campus climate often focuses on the victimization and marginalization of individuals rather than examining how individuals perceive responsibility for creating change. This study provides insight about how a community came together to stand up in the face of adversity ad perceived oppression and reclaimed their voices, presence, and agency.This study is based on twenty-eight narratives collected from the participants of the Power of One Portrait Project at Washington State University. As a study initiated from an arts-based community project, this dissertation employs art and poetry as a way to make sense of many concepts within this study. A sociocultural proprioceptive theoretical framework is a means to organize and explore the following themes: social status and privilege; accountability; campus climate and safety; support systems; law and policy; values and beliefs; mattering and visibility; resiliency; authenticity; and connection. Critical discourse analysis as a theoretical framework and methodology is a tool to examine how voice, presence, and agency are reflected in the participants' narratives.The findings derived from analysis of the narratives illustrate the prevalence of concern about safety in the classroom, lack of access to understanding existing laws and policies offering protection from harassment and discrimination, and a need for true dialogue among all constituents in a university community. This research portrays the complexities of different identities, challenges stereotypes and invites individuals to reconsider how a campus community can draw in voices from the margins to offer a message of hope, acceptance, inclusion, and mattering.