Kaity Sullivan

Publication Date

Fall 2018

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Alexa Dare


Communication Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


The university campus is often highlighted as an important location for individuals to freely engage in political discourse. Recently, university students across the nation have taken initiative to host protests to demand institutional reform on issues such as campus safety protocols, LGBTQ rights, and Title IX policies. As a result, a divide is created between the student body and the university administration. This qualitative study uses ethnographic methods to understand the role of university student government as a political entity meant to advocate for student demands, while working with the administration that is often considered the source of political tensions. The organizational culture theory is used as a framework to understand how cultural values are reinforced through specific behaviors and rhetorical devices. This study found that the complexity of advocacy was discovered through competing motivators and the strife that comes with seeking collaboration. Additionally, political rhetorical tools including dissociation and abstract language reinforce the values of the culture by creating an “us vs. them” narrative.

Author Supplied Keywords

Advocacy, Student government, University protest, Dissociation, Organizational culture


College student government; Corporate culture

Publication Information

Copyright for this work is retained by the author.

CST 434 Organizational Communication Capstone Project.

Document Type

Student Project