White Women and Affirmative Action, By: Nicole Cozzi

There once was a tale where if one worked really hard, college and a well-paying job would be in the future.  Like many fairy tales the American Dream has been debunked. The ugly truth is the fight to have access and to graduate from a higher education institution has always been fought on an uneven playing field.  Education in the United States of America was sculpted to cater to its first students, White, wealthy men (Thelin, 2011).  To increase access and success in higher education, it is not as simple as fixing the leaky pipeline if the whole plumbing system is wrong.

After the Civil War, former slaves struggled to grasp any sense of freedom due to the deliberate and violent policies from their White neighbors. With Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), educators could discriminate and bar individuals from educational opportunities under the pretense of the separate but equal framework.  It took another 50 years before segregation within educational agencies were deemed unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) (Wolfe & Dilworth, 2015).  According to Anderson (2016), discrimination within education remained as White individuals united to craft policies to reduce funds to public schools in favor a private ones. In fact, only 1.63% of African Americans were attending desegregated school a decade after Brown (Anderson, 2016).

Connecting to the intersection of class, several of studies have discovered a gap in wealth as White families have accumulated more wealth than families of color (Shapiro, Meschede & Osoro, 2014).  The wealth gap was created as a result of deliberate and discriminatory policies.  As students of color are disproportionately more likely to come from families with less education and low socioeconomic status, they are less likely to be academically prepared. Thus, the disparity of quality schools continues today (Anderson, 2016).   

To increase diversity in the educational pipeline, affirmative action policies were created. With an executive order from President Kennedy paired with the 1964 Civil Rights Act, higher education was obligated to develop affirmative action programs (Hall, 2015).  According to Hall (2015), while race was a central point of affirmative action, sex was also incorporated.  White women like myself have benefited greatly from affirmative action. “The facts and statistics demonstrate that one of the greatest beneficiaries of affirmative action in the last 40 years, especially in higher education, is White women” (Hall, 2015, p.7).  For instance, women with full-time professional and administrative jobs have almost tripled between 1960 and 1990 (Newman, 1997). Tying back to wealth disparity, despite the positive role of affirmative action in the lives of all women, White women have more economic capital than women of color (Wise, 1998).

Despite these advances, White women have been opponents to affirmative action in higher education.  The opposition has framed affirmative action in stark racial terms and ignored how White women have benefited meanwhile emphasizing the plight of an individual and ignores systemic and historic oppression (Wise, 1998). Over the years, race-conscious admissions practices have created a great deal of controversy as many feel admission policies discriminate against White students. For example, law cases have banned the use of quotas or a separate review.  College must walk a fine line between enrolling a “critical mass” and not having a precise goal (Kane & Ryan, 2013). All in all, courts rule that race cannot be the defining feature. The battle ground? The Supreme Court. White women have brought all but one of the past five cases to the Supreme Court (Hall, 2015).

Affirmative action initiatives have helped to create a more diverse student population. For example, the percentage of African Americans with a college degree has climbed from 4% to 6% in the past decade. Yet, there is much for work to be done.  According to Anderson (2016), in 2004, fifty years after Brown, not a single African American earned a PhD in astronomy or astrophysics. Furthermore, African-Americans and Latinos make up 30% of the U.S population but only 3% of selective institutions (Anderson, 2016).

Recently the Trump administration, not surprisingly, announced the withdrawal of Obama-era guidelines on the use of race in college admissions.  While the withdrawal does not have any legal ramifications, it has colleges concerned. To remain silent in the development and execution of discriminatory policies and procedure is to perpetuate systems of oppression.  The fight to increase higher education accessibility, is more than one person, one test score or one college. Education is a right, not a privilege.

Oppression is a common enemy as all of society suffers from the loss of access and advancement.  Instead of falling prey to feelings of anger or guilt, energies must be focused on recognizing one’s privilege while also working collaboratively to end oppression.   Through the lens of intersectionality, individuals must find courage to question their privilege, engage in difficult dialogue and take collaborative action.



Nicole Cozzi (she/her/hers) is currently serving as a Student Success Professional at Metropolitan State University of Denver while earning her Doctorate of Education with an emphasis in Executive Leadership at the University of Colorado Denver.  As a student affairs practitioner, she has worked in the areas of recruitment, orientation, civic engagement, interfaith and student organization management.  Nicole is from central Pennsylvania where she received her BA in Communication Media from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania.  She later went on to earn her MS in Higher Education Administration from Florida International University.  Nicole is passionate about interfaith initiatives and social justice issues.



Anderson, C. (2016). White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide. New York, NY: Bloomsbury.

Hall, P. D. (2015). White fragility and affirmative action. The Journal of Race & Policy, 12(2), 7.

Kane, T. J., & Ryan, J. E. (2013, August 2). Why ‘Fisher’ Means More Work for Colleges. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 59(44). Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com.aurarialibrary.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/A338211234/AONE?u=auraria_main&sid=AONE&xid=a5c7e349

Newman, M. (1997). Sex, race, and affirmative action: An uneasy alliance. Public Productivity and Management Review 20 (3): 295-307.

Shapiro, T., Meschede, T., & Osoro, S. (2014). The widening racial wealth gap: Why wealth is not color blind. In The Assets Perspective (pp. 99-122). Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

Thelin, J. R. (2011). A history of American higher education (2nd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

Wise, T. (1998). Is sisterhood conditional? White women and the rollback of affirmative action. NWSA Journal, 10(3), 1-26. doi:10.2979/NWS.1998.10.3.1

Wolfe, B. L., & Dilworth, P. P. (2015). Transitioning normalcy: Organizational culture, African American administrators, and diversity leadership in higher education. Review of Educational Research, 85(4), 667-697. doi:10.3102/0034654314565667



A Best Practice Wellness Intervention for All—Yes! For All, By: Angelica “Angie” Harris

Coaching has become incredibly trendy over the last few years. Most anyone we look up to either has worked with a coach in the past, or is doing so presently. Whether it is career coaching, academic coaching, or athletic coaching, students on campuses across the nation have experienced the benefits of coaching at some point or another in their academic career. These benefits include everything from improved study skills and test performance (academic coaching) to successful job searches and graduate school admission (career coaching) to competitive athletic performance and physical health (athletic coaching).

Wellness Coaching is new to the landscape of well-being interventions at colleges and universities. Like other forms of coaching, wellness coaching uses a client-centered approach to facilitate and empower the client to achieve self-determined goals related to their holistic well-being. Wellness coaching allows clients to identify and harness internal strengths and external resources to facilitate meaningful, sustainable lifestyle changes that improve holistic health and well-being outcomes. With proven efficacy amongst clients of all ages, including college students, at managing stress, anxiety, sleep, academic performance, physical health, and much more, wellness coaching has become a staple best practice amongst health and wellness professionals around the country.

As a Certified Health and Wellness Coach, I started this work wondering how college students of color, or students from other underrepresented or marginalized backgrounds, would respond to this intervention. I wondered if my coaching experience would be contingent upon shared identities between my students and me. For example, I identify as a Black, cisgender female. Each of those identities (as well as many other identities and personal experiences that shape the way I show up in spaces personally and professionally) interact with my environment every day. They are identities that people experience at first glance, before I even open my mouth to engage with them. That said, I wondered if I would only be able to effectively coach a student who also identified as a Black, cisgender female. However, the more I tuned into the certification training and began my work coaching students, the more I realized that wellness coaching could not be a more perfect intervention for students from underrepresented backgrounds (especially those at predominately white institutions). I also realized that it was my coaching presence that would ultimately shape my impact and effectiveness as a coach.

Coaching, when done properly, provides clients with the space to share and own their story from the start of the process; challenging them to explore the totality of who they are and how they can own more of their lived experience and future outcomes despite the challenges and barriers they may face. Empathetic listening, understanding, affirmation, and validation are cornerstones of effective coaching practice, and account for much of the success in coaching. In coaching, we believe our clients are naturally creative, whole, and resourceful; thus, coaching helps students find their voice and explore their capacity to be vulnerable, without fear of judgement or an unwelcomed reframe of their experience into one that neatly fits in with societal norms and standards. Students in coaching set their own goals, their own agenda, their own action steps, and involve input and suggestions from their coach only when solicited—and when solicited, the coach provides the advice after a full self-exploration process to locate the answers within the client themselves.

Another major characteristic of coaching is accountability. Many connotations of accountability are negative, especially given the social and political landscape in which live. If you are like me, the term accountability makes your skin tingle a little bit. And if you share my identity of being a person from an underrepresented or marginalized background, then that tingle on your skin can very quickly turn to a bit of sweat on your brow, or extra heart palpitations in certain contexts. Accountability makes me think of being held responsible for expectations or standards that have been preset for me; it often feels synonymous to punishment, and can be yet another way that injustice manifests itself in modern society. In coaching, we work hard to reframe the connotation of the accountability to be something that the client gets to dictate and drive. Moreover students in coaching are held accountable to standards and goals they set for themselves, versus those forced upon them by an outside (albeit sometimes well-meaning) entity. In my experience coaching students, this distinction makes a world of difference and provides students with a great alternate experience when considering the word ‘accountability’.

At my current institution, the coaching program I oversee has several coaches (full-time, part-time, and volunteers) from an array of backgrounds working to support our students from a coaching capacity. We collect feedback from our students before their initial session, after their initial session, and after they complete their coaching cycle. Over 500 students signed up to work with one of our coaches since our Spring 2017 pilot implementation, and we have had roughly a 56% response rate to our initial coaching survey. 100% of students who completed the survey indicate that they would refer the resource to their friends and peers on campus, regardless of the coach with whom they were working. These students represented a wide array of identities, and this, to me, suggests that regardless of the client’s or the coach’s identities, there still exists the capacity for a student to experience and recognize the benefits of having the space to explore, reflect, ideate, and make meaning of their ability to improve their health outcomes and orient themselves toward improved holistic wellness.

Whether in a one-on-one or a group capacity, coaching allows those involved to establish expectations and norms that help create the psychological safety necessary for the magic of coaching to occur. The self-management skills students tap into and hone through coaching help to propel them beyond the point of merely surviving life in college, and challenges them to identify what thriving can look like for them. Using their vision of thriving, students tap into their motivation in a meaningful way and blossom into the most resilient, gritty, holistically well person they can possibly be in that moment and beyond.



Angelica “Angie” Harris, M.A., CWHC
Assistant Director, Success and Wellness Coaching
University of South Florida

Originally a native of Buffalo, NY, Angelica “Angie” Harris (She, Her, Hers) is a Certified Health and Wellness Coach and the current Assistant Director of Success and Wellness Coaching at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL. Angie received her B.A. in Sociology from The George Washington University, her M.A. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Maryland College Park, and is working on a second M.A. in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling at the University of South Florida. Beginning August 8th, she will transition into serving as the Assistant Director for Wellness at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. Angie is passionate about using her skillset to facilitate reflection, empowerment, and action with her students and clients, as well as using her experience creating and building a successful and thriving coaching program at USF to help other colleges and universities do the same. For more information about Angie, please connect with her on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/AngieMarieHarris or email her: CoachingWithAngie@gmail.com.


Collaging for Social Justice by Marcellus C. Taylor

The work of social justice requires a proclivity to situations of vulnerability and introspection. Often the discussion of social justice-related topics end in fatigue and further disagreements (Furman, 2012; Shields, 2010). Colleges and universities must develop engaging pathways that allow for an introductory conversation to the beauty and complexity of social justice. The methods of collaging and collage quilting can serve as initiators of a continual conversation on humanity, dignity and inclusion. In my experience these activities have created change in the minds of folks who purposefully, (or unintentionally), were neutral, (or opposed), to the concepts of social justice.

Heron (1992) suggest that there are multiple ways of knowing of which presentational knowing is one of them. According to (Yorks and Kasl, 2002),  Presentational  Knowing is “the intuitive grasp of the significance of imaginal patterns as expressed in graphic, plastic, moving, musical, and verbal art forms” (pg. 187). Collaging is the “process of using fragments of found images or materials and gluing them to a flat surface to portray phenomena” (Butler-Kisber & Poldma, 2011 pg. 2). Collage quilting happens when multiple collages are placed together to form a single image. Collaging grew in its artistic popularity in the  early 20th century in part due to the artistry of Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp (Davis & Butler-Kisber, 1999).

The process described below highlights my use of collaging and collage quilting as an introductory conversation for social justice. After the collage and collage quilting activity had concluded, I led a brief (20 minutes) talk on the historical underpinnings of social justice movements in America, I also gave out resources that students/participants could use for independent study of the topic. Finally, I made fliers of events and activities on campus that would further increase their knowledge and practical understanding of the phenomena collaging and collage quilting are not the only ways to lead an introductory workshop on social justice, but it can be a transformative process for all participants.

The Collage Making Process

1) Each student / participant was asked to bring a magazine to the session/workshop from any genre. I encourage the facilitator to bring at minimum 10-15 for different genres.

2) I (the facilitator) provided the paper for collaging.  I used an 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 paper that I cut down from the original 8 1/2 x 11 size.

3) At beginning of the session/workshop I asked students an overarching question


What is social justice?

Who is social justice for?

What do you know about racism in America?

4 ) After I  asked the question, I  gave each student/participant a  8 1/2 x 8 1/2  paper.  I encourage you to use multiple colors it adds to the aesthetics.

5) I then challenged each participant to use the magazines and design a collage as their way of answering the question from above. I told them that they could cut out images, words or a combination of both and glue them to the 8 1/2 x 8 ½ aforementioned.

6)  I allowed time for participants to design their collage. I suggest a minimum of twenty minutes and a maximum of forty minutes.

7) After all the students/participants finished their collage, I went around the room and asked them to share out about their collage and how it answers the overarching question. I recommend that the facilitator share their collage after students/participants share out.

The Collage Quilt Making Process

After everyone shares out,

1) I place each collage on a large white paper. I used a gigantic roll of white paper as the background for the quilt.

Before you place the collages on the “quilt “, I would write a hashtag at the top of the “quilt”, this allows for post collage engagement and can be a tool to bring in voices from outside the session/workshop

2) I then placed them by rows of 3 (the below image is 3×4).  If you have an odd number you can play around with the design or the facilitator can make more than one.

 For ease of facilitation, the facilitator(s) should make their collage(s) before the session/workshop.

3) After the collage quilt was completed I asked each student/participant to note any themes they see on the collage quilt.

You can discuss the importance of themes and how a collection of various ways of knowing can lead to community building and understanding. 

Materials List

1) Glue Sticks

2) Scissors

3) Magazines

4) 8 1/2 x 81/2 paper cut outs (You should have enough for each student/ participant and a few extra).

5) Large White Paper Roll

6) Painters tape to hang the collage

7) Good Working Music for when participants are collaging, I use the musical playlist from the film Hidden Figures https://youtu.be/6teUDy1XS7A

Figure 1: A Collage Quilt centered on the theme of curriculum

 Quilt M. Taylor.png


Marcellus C. Taylor serves the Penn State Harrisburg Community as the Assistant Director of Student Life in the Office of Student Life & Intercultural Programs. He received his master of education in Training and Development from Penn State Harrisburg and is currently pursuing a doctorate of education in curriculum and instruction from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In addition to his role at Penn State Harrisburg, he is an Empowerment Coach and author. His research interest is in the areas of Black males in educational doctorate programs and the impact of Student Affairs practices on Black male undergraduate holistic development. . To contact Marcellus please email marcellustaylor09@gmail.com.


Butler-Kisber, L., & Poldma, T. (2011). The power of visual approaches in qualitative inquiry: The use of collage making and concept mapping in experiential research. Journal of Research Practice, 6(2), 18.

Davis, D., & Butler-Kisber, L. (1999). Arts-based representation in qualitative research: Collage as a contextualizing strategy. Paper presented at American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting, Montreal, Quebec (session 1)

Furman, G. (2012). Social justice leadership as praxis: Developing capacities through preparation programs. Educational Administration Quarterly, 48(2), 191-229.

Heron, J. (1992). Feeling and personhood: Psychology in another key. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Shields, C. M. (2010). Transformative leadership: Working for equity in diverse contexts. Educational administration quarterly, 46(4), 558-589.

Yorks, L., & Kasl, E. (2002). Toward a theory and practice for whole-person learning: Reconceptualizing experience and the role of affect. Adult Education Quarterly, 52(3), 176-192.

Masculinity’s Effects on Gay Men in College, By: Daniel J. Foster and Stephen T. Britt

Author’s note: It is important to acknowledge the cisnormative nature of this essay and to draw attention to the issues of trans men and gender nonconforming people in the context of masculine identity development. Also, we cannot ignore that this essay doesn’t explicitly focus on bi, pan, or queer identified men, though some of the research would suggest similarities to gay masculinity development. These identities and their relationships with masculinity are also vitally important in this discussion. Masculinity is a complex issue that warrants hundreds of pages of exploration as its impact is far reaching. In this essay, masculinity development of gay men is addressed; other identities are not forgotten.


Toxic masculinity has become a topic of discussion in many circles in recent years, and for good reason. Our patriarchal society expects a certain portrayal of masculinity, and that portrayal does not include anything even remotely perceived as feminine, and for men who challenge the “norm” of heteronormativity, such as gay men, the fight against toxic masculinity can be arduous. So, gay men in college, who are already forced to reconcile a gay identity, may also be required to undermine their authentic selves in order to achieve the hegemonic masculine ideal, and thus have more intense struggles than their heterosexual counterparts when it comes to masculine identity development.

The effects of masculinity culture on the development of gay men are apparent.  Just as heterosexual men, gay men are still expected to embody the masculine ideals set forth by society.  These ideals, though, leave little room for individual expression.  Men of all orientations must develop their own authentic masculinity.  However, for gay men, the disconnect between development of a gay identity and what is said to be masculine can create a chasm that may lead to a multitude of mental health issues.  The precursor to many of these mental health issues, and in turn, a significantly higher rate of suicide, is an identity crisis described as internalized homophobia (Szymanski, Kashubeck-West, and Meyer, 2008; Williamson. 2000).  This internalized homophobia is problematic as it creates a dichotomous relationship between sexual orientation and gender performance, creating competing ideas of what it means to be authentically one’s self.

Homophobia is a tactic used by many adolescents and maturing men as a form of hegemonic masculinity performance (Richardson, 2010); however, Kimmel (2010) further explains the idea of homophobia as less a fear of the homosexual and instead describes it as a fear of the feminine.  Further, Kimmel argues that homophobia is a fear of being emasculated by peers and being seen as less than masculine.  It is the fear of the non-conformity to hegemonic masculinity that drives homophobia in men (Swain, 2010).  Gay men are no different than their heterosexual counterparts when it comes to homophobia; though, for gay men homophobia is both an internal and external battle (Williamson, 2000).  Gay men must appear to be both gay and straight simultaneously if they are to be successful in society.  Gay men are expected to be equally as masculine as their heterosexual counterparts or more so in order to be an accepted part of the hetero/homonormative culture (Anderson-Martinez & Vianden, 2014).

Taking in to account that gay men must be conscious of this traditional masculinity alongside their differing sexual orientation there is an identity crisis.  D’Augelli’s model of lesbian, gay, and bisexual development as cited in Evans et. al (2010) provides the introduction to this idea of conflict in his first process of identity development.  D’Augelli’s process states that a person must first recognize their feelings for a person of the same sex and begin telling others of this attraction.  For gay men this is problematic due to the culture of hegemonic masculinity men are expected to follow.  Men are expected to perform their gender as anti-effeminate, dominant, and aggressive (Kimmel, 2008) and thus being in a same-sex relationship is contradictory to societal gender roles (Edwards, 2005).

Society says there is a masculine and a feminine party in each relationship, but in the context of gay relationships both men are expected to be masculine and thus each man must reconcile what his masculinity means within each relationship and how he will perform that masculinity.  The subordination of the feminine in masculinity culture and the notion that to be a truly masculine you must be heterosexual (Swain, 2010) then causes a dichotomous relationship that can and, in many men, does create an idea of internalized homophobia as Anderson-Martinez and Vianden (2014) suggest.  It is here that many gay men struggle.  There is a quest for homonormativity that cannot be met in many cases, as the very goal of homonormativity is to not contest the idea of heteronormativity (Duggan, 2002).  However, same-sex relationships are inherently challenging to heteronormativity due to their non-heterosexual nature.  The forced reconciliation of masculinity with sexual orientation is difficult at best, and many gay men struggle with this, often to the point of mental health issues (Szymanski, Kashubeck-West, and Meyer, 2008).

Suicide, suicide ideation, and depression are no laughing matter.  In the LGBT community there have been a number of highly publicized suicides in recent memory.  There has been much work done to show the links between homosexuality and mental health disorders, and the findings are staggering.  Hershberger, Pilkington, & D’Augelli (1997) found in their sample that over 40% of LGBT youth attempted suicide at least once in their lifetime which was congruent with similar studies conducted by D’Augelli and Hershberger in 1993, as they self-cited within this study.  More recently, Marshal et. al (2011) found that nearly 28% of their participants who identified as other than heterosexual had a history of suicidal events as opposed to 12% of those who identified as heterosexual.  Additionally, Mustanski, Garofalo, and Emerson (2010) found in a study of diverse students aged 16-20 years, the prime ages of college men, that students who identified as non-heterosexual had a higher probability of attempting suicide at some point at a rate of 31% of respondents.  Also, the study found “One third of participants met criteria for any mental disorder” (p. 2426).

King et al. (2008) found a higher risk of suicide attempts over the course of a lifetime in gay men when compared to their heterosexual peers.  Similarly, Bostwick (2010) found a higher than normal rate of depression and anxiety among the same group compared to their heterosexual counterparts.  The struggle with masculinity culture and identity development is easily observed when looking at these statistics, especially considering the ideas of the fear of femininity discussed by Kimmel (2008, 2010), Swain (2010), and Anderson-Martinez and Vianden (2014) and the subsequent propensity for internalized homophobia.

All of this is to say that toxic masculinity culture has profound effects on men of any identity, and for gay men the toxic masculinity game could have intense health affects. As university administrators it is imperative for us to provide programming and resources for all of our students centered on diverse, positive masculinity representations. For men in college, especially gay men, having positive representations of masculinity modeled and taught could make profound differences for gay men in college. Utilizing our Greek students, our student leaders, and our already in effect programming to combat toxic masculinity is a must on our campuses. We have to find ways for men to have discussions in diverse spaces to process and build their own authentic, positive masculinity representations, our world needs it.


Danny Foster (He/Him/His) is a Residence Director and Orientation Coordinator at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Danny has a passion for LGBTQ+ issues and hopes to further explore the impact of masculinity throughout the LGBTQ+ community as he further pursues his academic interests. You can reach Danny on Twitter at @FosterDJ2 or by email at fosterdj2@gmail.com

Stephen Britt (He/Him/His) is an Undergraduate Academic Advisor in the Columbian College of Arts & Sciences at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. He enjoys exploring the intersection of academic advising and career development.



Anderson-Martinez, R., & Vianden, J. (2014). Restricted and adaptive masculine gender performance in white gay college men. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 51(3), 286–297.

Bostwick, W.B., Boyd, C.J., Hughes, T.L., & McCabe, S.E. (2010). Dimensions of sexual orientation and the prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 100(3), 468-475.

Duggan, L. (2002). The new homonormativity: The sexual politics of neoliberalism. In R. Castronovo and D. D. Nelson (Eds.), Materializing democracy: Toward a revitalized cultural politics (pp. 175-194). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Edwards, T. (2005) Queering the pitch?: Gay masculinities. In M. S. Kimmel, J. Hearn, & R. W. Connell (Eds.), Handbook of studies on men & masculinities (pp. 51-68). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Evans, N.J., Forney, D.S., Guido, F. M., Patton, L.D., & Renn, K.A. (Eds). (2010). Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice (2nd Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Kimmel, M. S. (2008). Guyland: The perilous world where boys become men. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Kimmel, M.S., (2010). Masculinity as homophobia: Fear, shame, and silence in the construction of gender identity. In S. R. Harper & F. Harris (Eds.), College Men and Masculinities: Theory, Research, and Implications for Practice (pp. 23-31). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

King, M., Semlyen, J., Tai, S. S., Killaspy, H., Osborn, D., Popelyuk, D., & Nazareth, I. (2008). A systematic review of mental disorder, suicide, and deliberate self harm in lesbian, gay and bisexual people. BMC Psychiatry, 8, 70. DOI:10.1186/1471-244X-8-70

Mustanski, B. S., Garofalo, R., & Emerson, E. M. (2010). Mental health disorders, psychological distress, and suicidality in a diverse sample of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths. American Journal of Public Health, 100(12), 2426-2432.

Richardson, D., (2010). Youth masculinities: compelling male heterosexuality. British Journal of Sociology, 61(4), 737-755.

Swain, J., (2010). Masculinities in education. In M. S. Kimmel, J. Hearn, & R.W. Connell (Eds.), Handbook of Studies on Men & Masculinities (pp. 213-229). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Szymanski, D.M., Kushubeck-West, S., & Meyer, J., (2008). Internalized heterosexism: measurement, psychosocial correlates, and research directions. The Counseling Psychologist. 36(4), 525-574.

Williamson, I.R., (2000).  Internalized homophobia and health issues affecting lesbians and gay men. Health Education Research: Theory and Practice. 15(1), 97-107.

Finding my humanity in teaching higher education, By: Dr. Stephanie Bondi

I was beginning to think I’d lost my humanity.  I push the dog.  Scream at the kids.  I roll my eyes at people I overhear talking about things I disagree with.  I feel overwhelmed, incompetent, exhausted, and afraid a lot of the time. Maybe you can relate to some of this. I’m glad to report I’ve begun to find my humanity again.

Last December, I invited folks with a White identity teaching in student affairs preparation to do a training together. We used Sandra Kim’s online program Healing from Toxic Whiteness.  We also held virtual discussions every couple weeks to process what we were learning together.

I’ve learned many things from the training and the community we’ve built.  It’s honestly helped me to reconnect with my humanity. Kim explains how we’ve actually been socialized to interact with each other in dehumanizing ways. For example, we don’t listen to each other.  We think we know what someone is going to say before they start.  We often think we know how things will end and react prematurely. We plan out a whole conversation from beginning to end before it happens. I see this too often in myself.

In the training, Sandra Kim explains the compassionate activism approach. She explains how colonialism and White supremacy have led most of us to know only certain ways to interact with each other.  We know how to judge ourselves and others. We know how to ignore the pain of people of color and other people in minoritized groups.  We know how to talk at each other but not listen to ourselves and each other.

A piece of losing my humanity is using coercion in daily interactions. As I’m writing that I’m thinking it makes me sound pretty awful. Before this training I would have denied that I’m coercive. I certainly never decided, “I want to be coercive. Let’s get started.” But as Sandra Kim explained, sometimes we’re so passionate about something, or we so much want the pain to stop that we coerce ourselves and others.

Let me give an example of coercion. One day a colleague made a comment that landed on me as very racist.  I was sure that the person hadn’t meant it to be, but because of their background, they weren’t aware of the impact that it had on me and probably others. I was nearly sick to my stomach thinking about how I could approach this person to bring it up, but I felt I must.  I imagined the conversation in my head—what I’d say and what they’d say. Over and over and over. I noticed the pit in my stomach and the tightness in my chest. I was a mess for hours as I stewed what to say and how to say it.  As I noticed what was going on for me, I figured out I was mostly worried the person wouldn’t agree with me because either (a) I wouldn’t be able to explain how the comment was racist or (b) because I wouldn’t lay out an effective argument about why they should feel the way I do about it. This is the coercion that I mentioned.

As a teacher, that philosophy of coercion and control informs my curriculum, lesson plans, and interactions. I’m usually thinking “how can I get students to the place I want them to go.”  That’s teaching, right? There are all kinds of tools we use: incentive, requirements, and evaluation.  It sounds funny when I write it out here—teaching is about control–yet I know it to be the ways I often think about my teaching.

Sandra Kim explains a method of compassionate activism which, instead of control and coercion, includes elements of consent along the way.  It begins with the self. Using this method I can ask myself, “Do I want to talk to my colleague about what they said?” instead of doing it because I worry I’ll be a bad person if I fail to talk with them.

In that scenario, I followed the steps that Kim explains in the training.  First, she explains how important it is to do that self-work which involves not coercing or shaming oneself.  It also includes paying attention to pain and how that may motivate us as individuals to move towards or away from different interactions. Only then, once the self-work has been done and one has addressed within oneself the “emotional charge” then an individual has much greater capacity to connect with another person.  In my situation, I needed to notice and pay attention to how I was taking on the responsibility to change another person’s mind and I was fearful that I would not be a good person or ally if I failed to do so.

In order to connect with others, Kim explains we need to ask the other person to share more about their internal reality.  We also need to invite their participation rather than expect it.  Expecting their participation ignores their agency as people and is dehumanizing. It also has a likelihood of being ineffective as people who feel pushed into a situation often resist.  In the situation with my colleague I described earlier I finally went to talk with them. I went only after I realized that I didn’t have to coerce them into believing what I did. I realized I only had to talk and listen to them. I thought to myself, “That’s easy.  I can do that.” In that way I had also released the emotional charge inside me that was swirling.  That kind of human connection—talking and listening– is natural to me and aligns with my values. Once I was able to work through my own emotional charge, I had much greater capacity to listen to and have a human interaction with my colleague.  I’m pretty sure that if I had talked to my colleague before coming to clarity about what was going on inside me, I would have been talking at him instead of interacting with him as a human.

There’s another layer to the situation. There are the power dynamics.  I’m not always tracking those from my mostly dominant social positions as a cisgender White woman teacher, who doesn’t have a disability, from an upper-middle class background.  I hardly think I’m being coercive when I’m talking about my passion for social justice to students. I hardly feel like I’m being coercive when I talk in the classroom about how important it is that we notice how some groups’ needs are met and others are often not.  I’m just passionate.  But taking this course, I’ve noticed that it sure does feel like coercion in the classroom with students and at home with my kids. When I talk about it with passion and no invitation on how other people feel, amidst that power dynamic, it can feel like my way is the only way.  And the students and kids in these situations get turned into the objects of my lessons.  Anyone like to be the object of a lesson?  Doesn’t sound appealing to me.

So, now I’m working this philosophy into my life and my teaching to be on the lookout for my coercive efforts. To pay more attention to how my positions of power may be playing out. I’m focusing on being a better listener and inviting, rather than expecting, people to engage with me. Offering invitations rather than expecting people to engage with us is not the same as allowing people to abuse us or bully others. Kim states that as individuals and groups we can set boundaries about behavior that is having a negative impact in certain spaces and that we can do this still in a humane way, acknowledging the other person’s reality. It’s a slow process for me to unlearn engrained habits.  It’s worth it because my humanity is priceless. And importantly, in my fullness I am so much more capable of being present with people and advocating for justice.


Bio: Stephanie Bondi is on a journey to find more of her stolen humanity.  She teaches at University of Nebraska – Lincoln in the student affairs program and is mom to Rylee and Reece. Contact her by email at sbondi2@unl.edu or on Twitter @s_bondi

My First Cabaret, By: Ryan Keesee

It was at the ACPA 17 Cabaret my friend and I made the deal, you enter, I enter. I watched and attended the ACPA Cabaret my second year at that point. I learned how the event supported local organizations focused on the LGBTQA community as well as scholarships for this same population. Watching the performers, I thought it was something I could never do.

When the application for the 2018 show came along my same friend reminded me of our deal, we entered, and were accepted. I entered my stage name as Kinky Blessing. Kinky representing Kinky Boots which I wanted to wear. I always admired thigh high boots and thought about how fun it would be to rock a pair. The Blessing is an ode to my personal college group of friends. We collectively regard ourselves by many group names but we are currently owning The Blessing because this is the title given to a collection of Unicorns. Why unicorns? Well…why not, right?

I grew up in a lower socioeconomic home with my mother and sister on the perimeter of Atlanta or as natives call it OTP. Shania Twain was played…a lot! Who’s Bed Have Your Boots Been Under, Any Man of Mine, & yes….Man I Feel Like a Woman were played throughout the house on repeat. I remember helping with chores and singing to all of Shania’s songs and dancing throughout the house. My love of the songs and the femininity never struck me as something wrong then and I was never challenged until later in life. All I knew was that I loved Shania’s look in the Man I Feel Like a Woman video. When the chance came to select a 90’s song to perform, I instantly jumped to this selection and excitedly pulled together the Shania look.

The search for my clothes was an experience within itself. I specifically recall sitting on a bench in Goodwill trying on a pair of high heeled boots when I looked up and saw a young kid observing me. I perceived how they were trying to comprehend a guy with a beard jerking a pair of kinky boots on his legs. While I was in DSW trying to find THE right pair of boots, multiple stares and giggles were had. My thoughts during this experience were, “This is my lone, one-time experience. What of those individuals that face this everyday? What of those individuals that need a size 11, cause they’re impossible to find! How privileged and blind am I to have never considered this before.” As I pulled one pair of thigh high boots off I felt a muscle fade in my hip and worried a might’ve actually caused real damage in the process of getting my Shania on. I longingly looked at boots I wanted but couldn’t afford. I imagined how fabulous I could be if I just had that one pair of $150 gold studded thigh highs. I found my hat, wig, gloves, and bedazzlement at Party City. I vocally gasped when I found my top hat because it was velvet and beautiful! I hope it becomes a signature piece for me : )

All in all I pulled my outfit together. Then the contemplation came into play. What would my Uncle think? Seeing his nephew wearing studs and make-up? How might my mother explain it to her friends, “this was just a charity experience he was doing.” How do we explain any Facebook pictures to my nephew and niece? How rattled will my college friends be to see their friend dressed as a woman? Owning my identity as a gay man has come with its difficulties, and thus far I have handled it well enough so far; but, was I really ready to explain the world of drag to others? Above my concerns of judgement from family and friends I was even more concerned about the drag community itself. I felt and am, in a sense, an imposter to the scene. Although I received multiple nods as, “a new drag baby,” I was concerned how I may represent this community and if in doing so could I potentially cause harm. As I continued to share the news of my upcoming performance, I continually received phenomenal support. In the end, I resolved to remember the purpose of the Cabaret and appreciate the opportunity I had to contribute. As with other things, I was also prepared to entertain questions and challenges that could arise as a result of my participation. I was proud I had the courage to participate and grateful for the new knowledge and friendships it brought.

Performing in the show was a liberation of my own desire to let it all go and own those things that were deemed “feminine.” My hair I could flip, my lips were luscious, and I damn well fit in a corset. I had prepared a few choreographed moves in my hotel room that all but left me during the performance. My beautiful top hat refused to stay on my head and I may have had a few nipple slips. Overall, though, I felt amazing. I suspended judgement and just imagined myself dancing in my home with my dust rag in hand. It  felt good to let go of my own insecurities and own my Queen.  I received great feedback from the experience and one colleague even expressed how I slayed my performance which was all the validation I ever needed.

Beyond all of this, what made the experience was the people. While my time on stage was LIBERATING, the moments I enjoyed most were standing in the box cheering on our fellow Queens and Kings. There’s something to be said about the strong sense of community that exists within ACPA and within every single performer that poured their heart out that night. We pressed our faces to the glass, screamed, “Yaaaasss,” and offered hugs to each member that returned to our space after their performance. THAT was the Cabaret experience. Knowing we were all there for reasons beyond ourselves and owning that bravery was the galvanizing experience of it all.

To conclude the show, we all gathered on stage to sing, This is Me, from The Greatest Showman, which, if you know the song, is pretty representative of this experience. At one moment on stage, I stopped and thought how fortunate I was to be a part of something so impactful and fun. It truly ignited even more desire within me to continue understanding and advocating for this community. I’m excited to see the Cabaret continue to grow at future ACPA’s and hope to see many more new faces join in the fun. Collectively, I believe, it is an experience like no other to explore the Drag community and truly immerse yourself.

Until next year,

Kinky ; )


Ryan Keeseee (He/Him/His) Currently works as the Assistant Director of Volunteerism and Service-Learning at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter as @keesee22.