Uncovering whiteness as discourse: A critical discourse analysis of the in-state resident tuition debate for undocumented students in Texas





undocumented students, in-state resident tuition, state policy, whiteness, Texas


Undocumented college students in the United States encounter a number of structural barriers to postsecondary education success, including disparate in-state resident tuition (ISRT) policies across the country. Texas, the first state to establish ISRT benefits for undocumented college students, has been a site of tension respective to this issue over the last 20 years. In fact, there have been eight legislative attempts to repeal the state’s affirmative ISRT policy. In order to investigate this ongoing ISRT debate in Texas, we used critical discourse analysis methods to analyze the implicit and explicit messages communicated in the policy and surrounding policy discourse. Our conceptual framework, grounded in three constructs of critical whiteness studies including ontological expansiveness, color evasiveness, and individualization, allowed us to uncover whiteness as a pernicious undergirding force within this policy discourse.


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Author Biographies

Nicholas Tapia-Fuselier, University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Nicholas Tapia-Fuselier, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Leadership, Research, and Foundations at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. His research agenda includes examining how colleges and universities build capacity to serve, support, and advocate for undocumented students. He also examines higher education programs and policies using Critical Whiteness Studies in order to explicitly address and disrupt whiteness and imagine more equitable, racially just possibilities.

Veronica A. Jones, University of North Texas

Veronica A. Jones, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the program of higher education at the University of North Texas. Her research agenda includes programming for male students of color, student engagement and activism, and equity and diversity issues. She explores these topics through frameworks such as critical discourse analysis and critical race theory.  

Clifford P. Harbour, University of North Texas

Cliff Harbour, Ed.D., J.D., is a Professor in the Higher Education Program at the University of North Texas and holds the Don A. Buchholz Chair for Community College Education. Dr. Harbour’s scholarship advocates for a transformation in the community college mission to help create and support democratic and sustainable communities through open access postsecondary education.




How to Cite

Tapia-Fuselier, N., Jones, V. A., & Harbour, C. P. (2021). Uncovering whiteness as discourse: A critical discourse analysis of the in-state resident tuition debate for undocumented students in Texas. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 29(January - July), 52. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.29.5834