Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 50, No. 2 - 106

Re-visioning Bulletin Boards
this method of sharing feedback, Steven used a metaphor to articulate the feeling of
agency he had to express himself: " Well, when I was on the phone with [Author 1], he
kind of said, get as creative as you want. So that kind of gave me, you know, the keys to
the Lambo because I like to be creative. "
Steven's utilization of a comic strip format and his verbal presentation demonstrate
the potential richness of photovoice data and the ways creativity and participatory
methods can enhance agency. The thought bubbles and captions allowed Steven
to deliver his thoughts as language. He combined modalities of speech to generate a
multimodal expression that could never be represented in a language-only interview
or survey. Steven's mobilization of a " longhorn " hand shape illustrates an observation
from Carr (2009): Although institutions construct an institutional identity through
which their subjects must speak, those subjects can inhabit the institutional identity to
gain legitimacy. When they inhabit this identity, it makes their concerns clear to policy
makers in ways they might not have recognized had they been expressed in a different
register. Indeed, Steven's comment was met with delight from residence life leaders,
whose approval served as evidence of the effectiveness of Steven's approach. Being
positioned as an institutional subject yielded certain language available to Steven, and
his ability to use that language granted him increased power.
Unlike the secondary representation often elicited through interviews, Steven's
comic strip and presentation allowed him to have more control over word choice, the
structure of his argument, and how images can be used in tandem with words to generate
a pluralized image-voice. The methodology used here uncovered themes that might
have been obscured by more traditional techniques of eliciting feedback and allowed the
students themselves to take up institutional identities and underscore the value of using
the lens of community cultural wealth. This study demonstrates the value of using
participatory arts-based methods to elicit student responses and create opportunities for
them to be active agents in the process of providing feedback to policymakers.
One metaphor that demonstrated student agency emerged during the group presentation
when Steven was asked why he took such a creative approach to the project.
Steven stated in a phone conversation about the project that the first author had given
him " the keys to the Lambo " by encouraging an out-of-the-box approach. This reference
to a Lamborghini luxury car demonstrated the use of metaphor to import a domain of
meaning from the student's world into the student affairs setting, and it articulated the
very act of shifting power from researcher to participant that characterizes the goal of
participatory action research (Kemmis & McTaggart, 2005).
Furthermore, Steven's metaphorical description of his approach reflects Hemy
and Meshulam's (2020) assertion that participatory projects using visual methods empower
participants to disrupt and reverse the normative gaze. Not only did this project
offer students the chance to describe their experience using alternative domains of
. . . the most captivating forms of image-text expression
were those that created a narrative with a sense
of progression.
Volume 50, No. 2 * 2024 103

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