AuthorMohr, Whitney C.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation explores literature related to disability, university communication, andinequality regimes to understand the conceptualization of the ideal college student and how COVID-19 disrupted and enforced the systemic ideals of who belongs at and in the rhetoric of institutions of higher education. This study investigated how university leadership, public briefings, and email communication during the COVID-19 era were (or were not) inclusive of students with chronic illness and/or immunodeficiencies. A qualitative case study and qualitative methodologies were used to explore the communication of one university to and about the chronically ill population for 1 year as it reacted and responded to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. My analysis found that university leadership communicated in a way that excluded students with chronic illness from the college experience, and when this population was included, the rhetoric was problematic, blaming, and shaming. University communications, media, and marketing are focused on the “ideal” college student and the “ideal” college experience. Higher education institutions need to reconceptualize their perception of who and what is ideal. Inclusive communications and marketing are key in reflecting the college’s commitment to the chronically ill. It was through this dissertation, the related research and recommendations, and my own lived experiences that I began to reconceptualize the idea of being immunocompromised in college and begin to understand it as being immunocomplicated.
Degree ProgramGraduate College