The Campus Safety Apparatus from the Standpoint of Survivors of Campus Sexual Violence
Brenda Anderson

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Arizona

Primary Discipline

Higher Education
Campus sexual violence (CSV) is engrained in higher education institutions. Although students with marginalized identities experience CSV at high rates, this disparity is rarely addressed by colleges and universities in identity-conscious ways. By creating the concept of the ?the campus safety apparatus,? my dissertation identifies and describes the policies, procedures, and practices that higher education institutions use to respond to instances of CSV. Using institutional ethnography, I examine how these responses are mediated through ruling relations within the campus safety apparatus. To effectively execute this study, I examine power dynamics experienced by CSV survivors with multiple marginalized identities, utilizing the concepts of standpoint theory and commitment as a non-performative. This study design includes two stages: the entry-level stage of collecting and analyzing Instagram data and institutional documents and the second-level stage of conducting in-depth interviewing with student survivors, faculty, and staff. Preliminary findings illuminate: 1) how survivors seek institutional responses in the aftermath of experiencing CSV; 2) how these institutional responses further exacerbate harm experienced by survivors; 3) how student survivors create counter spaces online; and 4) how higher education institutions resist survivor activists demands by enacting institutional foils to promote the appearance safety and appear accountable without creating real strategies to address the root causes of CSV, which are power and oppression. By examining the campus safety apparatus, I will reveal how notions of safety are mediated through identity and power. Study findings will provide a theoretical lens to examine how policy and discourse inform who deserves safety and protections within colleges and universities. Given current trends in CSV research, understanding how policy implementation and notions of safety map onto survivors? experiences as a racialized, gendered, and sexualized phenomena is critical.
About Brenda Anderson
Brenda Lee Anderson Wadley is a Ph.D. candidate in the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona. Drawing on critical qualitative methodologies, her research scrutinizes and interrogates structural oppression in higher education that impedes the success of minoritized communities. Informed by her prior experience supporting survivors of campus sexual violence as a campus advocate, Brenda?s dissertation examines how institutional conceptions of safety do or do not meet the needs of students with multiple marginalized identities. Brenda is a research specialist for a National Science Foundation S-STEM grant, investigating structural realities for low-income, Pell-eligible transfer students pursuing STEM degrees using culturally responsive frameworks. Additionally, she is a doctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan Campus Abolition Research Lab, where she assists in investigating the consequences of policing inequities and the unintended consequences of diversity regimes on college campuses. She holds a Master of Education from the University of Georgia and a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Outside of research, Brenda enjoys running, reading, and organizing for and dreaming of abolitionist futures.

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