chapter  7
The Role of Student Agency, Student Empowerment, and Social Praxis in Shaping Supportive Cultures at Traditionally White Institutions
ByUma M. Jayakumar
Pages 20

In the higher education literature, organizational culture is largely conceived of as an institutionally constructed phenomenon defined by artifacts (e.g., written documents, physical spaces, celebrated figures, rituals, campus events and activities), institutional values, and assumptions (e.g., expressed through mission statements and allocation of funding, and guiding campus practices, policies, and decisions) (Kuh & Whitt, 1988; Manning, 1993; Museus, 2007; Schein, 1992); it is also a means through which institutions socialize new members and communicate behavioral expectations (Geertz, 1973; Masland, 1985). Although organizational culture is a set of norms, expectations, and values deeply embedded within institutional practices and structures (Masland, 1985), it exists only to the extent that institutional actors “perform” the culture of an institution (Giroux, 1983). As Giroux (1983) explains, organizational culture is “constituted by the relations between different classes and groups bounded by structural forces and material conditions and informed by a range of experiences mediated, in part, by the power exercised by the dominant society” (p. 309). Furthermore, although the power to shape the organizational culture is more accessible to the dominant group, power is effervescent and can be tapped into and exercised with equal force by all parties involved (Foucault, 1980; Giroux, 1983). In terms of creating organizational cultures

that support underrepresented and low-income students of color, what this means is that students of color and their allies have agency in shaping the culture and ensuring it is one that is aligned with their values, beliefs, and needs.