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About the Research

The purpose of this research was to explore and understand the experiences of fat students on college and university campuses. Specifically, the research team was interested in how participants experienced navigating campus places, spaces, and structures (for example campus buildings, chairs/beds/furniture in classrooms, dining halls, residence halls, athletic facilities, and other campus buildings). In short, we wanted to know what it is like for participants on campus in their body and the places and spaces they feel at home/comfortable in their body, where they feel uncomfortable on campus in their body, and how they navigate those feelings. 


During the Fall of 2021 the #FatOnCampus research team engaged in a power-conscious collaborative photovoice project with 11 college student partners who self-identified as fat. Specifically, each student expressed having experienced fatphobia and sizeism on campus including difficulty with campus systems and physical structures. Part of the photovoice methodology involves exhibiting the photos and inviting stakeholders to engage with the images and narratives of the students involved to elicit action around the issues that are important to them. 


This #FatOnCampus website is designed to bring the photos, stories, and experiences of these students to a wider audience. In conjunction with some of the student collaborators we will be targeting specific associations, higher education leaders, and other relevant groups with an invitation to engage the page and to incorporate the experiences of these students as they think about any work around campus place and space; and how to make them more inclusive, welcoming, and comfortable for a variety of bodies. 


We invite you to engage and share the page widely, use these stories and images as part of professional development conversations, higher education and student affairs practitioner education, and research methods courses and examinations. In addition to this virtual exhibition the #FatOnCampus research team will also host traditional in-person exhibitions in the coming year.


Meet The Team

Rachel Wagner

Rachel Wagner, EdD, is an Associate Professor in Higher Education and Student Affairs in the Department of Educational and Organizational Leadership at Clemson University. Rachel has presented on gender, racism, dialogue, and social justice education at universities nationwide. Her research aims to understand how post-secondary environments can support human flourishing. Specifically, her scholarship centers on critical and emancipatory perspectives of equity and social justice in higher education through two primary areas of inquiry: (1) gender aware and expansive practice in higher education, and (2) social justice approaches to student affairs practice. Along with Dr. Chase Catalano, she edited Advising and Supporting in Student Affairs. She received the Harry Cannon Outstanding Professional Award (2014) and the Outstanding Research Award (2015) from ACPA's Coalition on Men and Masculinities.

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