Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Higher Education Policy and Student Affairs

Committee Chairperson

Dana Morrison, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jacqueline S. Hodes, Ed.D.

Committee Member

John Elmore, Ph.D.


This thesis explores the perception of student activism at institutions of higher education and proposes a starting point to begin to change it. Increasing numbers of students are involved in on-campus activism but the typical perception remains negative despite its benefits. Using a transformative philosophy of education as a framework, I argue that activism is an undervalued form of student leadership and activists’ desire to push for change is integral to both their development and that of the institution where they attend. Through reviewing historical literature of past campus movements, the roles of student affairs professionals, and the dynamics at the intersection of power and identity, this work explores how student affairs professionals can work as tempered radicals to support student activists.

Centering the core tenets of critical action research, student activists are integral to the formation and implementation of the proposed program. The aim is to educate and inspire student affairs professionals to work within their roles to support student activists as leaders on campus through a series of workshops and the creation of a network to support each other in this work. I provide a program timeline, workshop outlines, budgetary considerations and methods of evaluation to assess how to program works to shift campus perspectives of activism over time. Student activism is a beneficial form of leadership and civic engagement and this work aims to demonstrate this in the hopes of increasing institutional support and resources for student activism in the future.