Date of Graduation

Fall 12-29-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Organization and Leadership (O&L)


School of Education

First Advisor

Seenae Chong, PhD

Second Advisor

Darrick Smith, Ed.D.


Using a qualitative case study, this thesis examines a university counterspace that serves Students of Color through the perspective of the staff who work in that space. The case study aimed to explore four areas of investigation: the interviewees’ knowledge and perceptions of 1) the history of their counterspace; 2) the purpose of their counterspace; 3) the benefits of their counterspace; and 4) challenges of their counterspace. The counterspace was a program within a large, 4-year, public, R-1 research university. Five staff from the counterspace were interviewed. A thematic analysis of the data suggests that students were an essential part of the history of the counterspace, and staff were central to the institutionalization of the counterspace and intentionally shared the history through staff orientation and student training. The counterspace’s purpose disrupts the university’s negative campus climate by centering students’ voices and narratives and being a space in the community that acts as an accessible physical space and collaborative partner. Furthermore, findings suggest that the counterspace has a positive impact on the psychological, social, and academic experiences of Students of Color. However, the counterspace experiences institutional challenges, such as ideological differences with university administrators and a lack of institutional investment by the university through structural challenges that manifest as bureaucracy and limited resources. These findings are discussed with regard to implications for further research and practice in higher education.