Crisis Response? Auburn University’s Struggles with Diversity
This paper will be a case study of how Auburn University has handled campus diversity issues in times of crisis. Specific campus examples – the 2001 Halloween incident (fraternity brothers dressing in black face), an announcement of diversity as a core value of the institution and diversity plan, the firings of several African-American personnel, and response to the Fisher Report (a report from an outside consultant giving ways for the university to better itself including the need for diversity), – will be discussed. In order to better understand each situation, relevant artifacts such as announcements, memos, reports, and local newspaper accounts will be examined. Using the tenets of image and impression management, it appears that the university missed opportunities to shape its image as an institution concerned about diversity. The authors will offer suggestions for what was learned about campus diversity based on the university administrations’ actions or lack there of.
Keywords: Diversity, University, Crisis
Dr. Brigitta R. Brunner
Associate Professor, Department of Communication and Journalism, Auburn University
Dr. Mary Helen Brown
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Communication and Journalism, Auburn University