The results could suggest that a certain type of environment allows a student more freedom to protest, Baker says. “Certain people have the time and resources to be able to protest in certain ways.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education covered the research of SMU education policy expert Dominique Baker, an assistant professor in the Department of Education Policy and Leadership of Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

Baker’s research published recently in The Journal of Higher Education. She and her co-author on the study, “Beyond the Incident: Institutional Predictors of Student Collective Action,” reported that racial or gender diversity alone doesn’t make a college campus feel inclusive. Students are more likely to initiate social justice campaigns at large, selective, public universities.

Some universities are more likely than others to experience student activism like the “I, Too, Am Harvard” campaign in 2014, the study found.

The Chronicle article by journalist Liam Adams, “Is Protesting a Privilege,” published Dec. 6, 2017.

Read the full story.


By Liam Adams
The Chronicle of Higher Education

Campus protests advocating for diversity occur more frequently at elite colleges, a study suggests.

Since her days as a Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt University, Dominique J. Baker says, she had wondered, “Why do certain universities have protests and others don’t?”

That curiosity led Ms. Baker and a colleague to study differences in protests among higher-education institutions.

Their recent report, published in The Journal of Higher Education, is titled “Beyond the Incident: Institutional Predictors of Student Collective Action.”

The more selective a college and the fewer of its students receiving Pell Grants, they found, the more likely those colleges are experiencing protests against racial microaggressions.

It’s not a new notion that protests occur more commonly at elite institutions. A previous study, by the Brookings Institution, found that more-affluent colleges are likelier venues for protests against controversial speakers, although the report was criticized for being incomplete.

The study by Ms. Baker, an assistant professor of education policy and leadership at Southern Methodist University,and Richard S.L. Blissett, an assistant professor in the department of quantitative methods and education policy at Seton Hall University, focused on the “I, Too, Am” movement, which started at Harvard University to protest microaggressions against students of color.

Racial microaggressions usually involve unequal treatment of people of color, or racial slurs or jokes, notes the report. Some students at Harvard were so fed up with microaggressions on the campus that they started a photography project in which students of color held signs containing offensive statements that had been made to them.

Read the full story.