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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2021

The images around us: An in-depth look into how students are affected by the imagery displayed around the UWO campus.

Abigail Merrill

Senior, Political Science, Anthropology


People live by what they know, therefore, the messages, images, and representation people choose are often based on what their own experience has been. Research has shown the impact of imagery: such as posters, flyers, and an online presence; on predominately white institutions (PWI) when creating a sense of inclusion and belonging within the student body on a college campus (Fisher 2007). The lack thereof is correlated with underrepresented student’s sense of feeling unseen, marginalized, and further isolated from their peers and campus community (Brooms 2017). In turn, the research highlights the importance of imagery around campus when striving for true inclusive excellence. To better gauge how UWO is managing the use of imagery, this research interviewed 10 campus students, and sent out a campus-wide survey, gaining the perspectives and experiences of over 275 students. The results from the students allow the university to hear how the images they display are reaching and affecting their student body, bridging the gap of communication between students and administration, promoting a campus of inclusive excellence.

What Do You Think? 

We encourage you to leave a respectful note, thought or comment with the presenter(s) below as a means of engaging with them. Your responses are appreciated and the presenter(s) will be participating in the conversation. 


  1. Kaylee Du Charme

    I agree with your argument. I believe that these events aren’t happening enough on campus. I have never attended a group meeting to learn more about other cultures other than my own because I would feel like I don’t fit in. I think it would be really interesting to attend these meetings though to learn more and become more educated.

  2. Abbie Merrill


    Thank you so much for the feedback. I am so excited to continue this research so we, as a college campus, can better understand how to bridge this gap of allyship.

  3. Olivia Basiliere

    Hey Abbie. This was great to watch. I found myself thinking critically about the influence of a campus’ demographic on public imagery after watching your thesis. I find it interesting to think about UW-Oshkosh’s message versus the way majority demographics interpret it and its actual legitimate influence on said demographic. Campus imagery is a great way to look at this.

    • Abbie Merrill

      I’m glad you agree! Campus imagery is a powerful way to both intentionally and unintentionally covey a strong message to the student body. I think more research would show us how to create imagery that promotes safe spaces for said demographics, and also create areas where inclusivity helps bring the campus community as a whole together.

      • Olivia Basiliere

        Absolutely. I would love to see a cross examination on the way local demographic attitudes influence the culture of a university. For example: Oshkosh is in a more conservative/working class area, so how does that affect the tenets of UW-Oshkosh’s social systems? Especially they way they project campus imagery? How can we change it? Super interesting!!

  4. Hailey Dehnert

    Hi Abbie, this was a great and thorough video! Highlighting the affects visual imagery can have on demographics, weather we cognitively recognize it or not, is a conversation that needs to be had! This video is definitely mainstreaming a topic we can all work on and your voice is being heard! You did an exceptional job in presentation and progression of thought!
    Thank you for sharing your work 🙂

  5. Kortney Marco

    Hi Abbie! Your research was interesting to hear. Great job talking about an important issue that needs to be improved upon. This is definitely an interesting topic to research and talk about so, thank you for sharing your findings with us!

  6. Kyiah Nelson

    Do you think having more than one racial identity represented in imagery be enough for everyone to feel included (e.g. white+latino/a represented in imagery with a black viewer)? Or would it only be effective if their specific identity was included? How would this change if it was two minority groups without the majority group (e.g. hispanic+black represented in imagery with a white viewer)?


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