Student Perceptions of the Faculty Response During the Civil Unrest in Ferguson, Missouri

Whitney Linsenmeyer
Saint Louis University

Tommy Lucas
Saint Louis University

Crisis events are historic in the lives of higher education institutions, and they may elevate the role of faculty to leaders, counselors, and supporters of their students. The civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri during the 2014-2015 school year impacted Saint Louis University students as the Occupy SLU movement witnessed demonstrations surrounding the university’s central clock tower. In this qualitative interview-based study, 19 Saint Louis University students were interviewed regarding their perceptions of how faculty addressed the events in the classroom. Six themes emerged: active faculty participation, passive faculty participation, course relevance, altered academic experience, business as usual, and deference for faculty position. These findings serve to capture student perceptions during a historic period of time and may inform and support faculty facing crisis events in the future. This study concludes with considerations for faculty regarding their role in the classroom, the relevance of their course content to the crisis event, and the potential impact on student life.

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