Balancing Free Speech and Inclusion in a Racially Divided Climate: How Postsecondary Institutional Responses to Hate Speech Are Shaping Equity and Inclusion Policy

Principal Investigator: Liliana Garces | Educational Leadership and Policy | The University of Texas at Austin


To address racial inequities in postsecondary education, where matriculation and graduation rates of students of color continue to lag behind those of white students, colleges and universities seek to promote a social and academic environment in which marginalized student populations, particularly students of color, feel welcome and engaged. But the rise of hate incidents on college campuses in the wake of the 2016 presidential election threatens these inclusion efforts and likely exacerbates the racialized barriers to success that students of color already face. In this case study of a public university, Dr. Garces is examining the ways organizational actors navigate conceptions of free speech, and hate speech in particular, to shape campus-wide inclusion policies and practices. Informed by frameworks from legal studies and the literature on equity and inclusion, this study will illuminate the role postsecondary institutions play in reducing (or potentially reinforcing) social inequalities in the current racially divided climate. Findings will illuminate specific responses and approaches that institutions can take to support free expression while creating, or at least maintaining, the inclusive environments students need to succeed and for education to realize its potential to promote more equal opportunity. ,

Grant Type:

Small Grant

Grant Amount:




Research Area:

Education and Social Opportunity

Topic / Subject:

Race/Ethnicity, Higher Education, Policy

Methods / Approach:

Case Studies

Disciplinary Perspective:

Law, Education