The Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 1 - 53

Relationships and Learning Beyond the Classroom

Participating in FIR activities, therefore,
helped some students gain social confidence
and try participating in other campus activities. One participant summed up these interactions with FIRs as a " first connection point "
that helped students build social confidence
that led to personal success in other social and
academic contexts.

" Activists of Being Friendly " : Building
Community
Many of the FIR programs took place in the
FIRs' residence hall apartments or in other
campus residential areas, but students also
interacted with FIRs in the dining hall, in academic buildings, and while casually walking
around the campus. These interactions, according to the typology above, constitute informal interactions and incidental contact.
Having incidental, non-programmatic contact with FIRs around the campus impacted
students' perceptions of the campus environment in a way that was unique to this type
of interaction. One participant reported, for
example, " It feels like you are more connected to it all . . . in the overall process rather
than just like having strange faces walking
around. " Another suggested that interacting
with FIRs around campus encouraged him to
become an " activist of being friendly " and initiate conversations with strangers on campus.
Finally, another reported that this type of interaction enhanced their sense of belonging
in the larger campus community: " I feel more
a part of the community this year. " Students
in the study ascribed to informal interaction
the unique benefit of enhancing their sense
of belonging and connection in the campus
community.  

" Humanizing " Professors
Participants also reported that social interactions with FIRs were impactful because they
" humanized " their professors and improved
students' confidence in approaching other
faculty. One participant reported that getting
to know the FIRs personally and under conditions of " reciprocity of respect but also understanding " led to her developing " overall more
confidence on how to approach them. "
Other participants reported that interacting with FIRs reduced the " awkwardness " or
" tension " they experienced when interacting
with other faculty, and they gained more incentive and motivation to be engaged in their
courses. One participant, for example, reported
that, by getting to know the FIRs, she learned
that faculty want their students to be engaged,
and since " I know what tricks work with them
and what they want in students, when I give
that for all my other classes I have seen how . . .
it does work. "
Finally, another participant summarized
the relationship between humanizing the
professors and improvements in academic
performance: " You really get to know their
interests . . . and how they teach and their personalities, it really does this amazing job of  . . .
humanizing them, and I think by breaking
down these expectations you can perform
better. " All participants in the study drew connections between participating in FIR activities
and feeling more comfortable interacting with
faculty.

" More Lively " : Dealing with Stress and
Depression
Participants provided anecdotal evidence of
positive impacts on their social-emotional

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Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 1

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 1

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