Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 2 - 50

comes such as persistence and graduation.
Those that contribute to persistence include
joining a community (Kniess et al., 2015),
attending summer residential programs
geared to students with underrepresented
identities (Mayhew et al., 2016), fostering
strong commitments to a campus program
or organization among residents (Kniess
et al., 2015), and residing in a living-learning community (Mayhew et al., 2016). Efforts designed to improve campus climate
overall, such as diversity courses and cocurricular programming, have also been linked
with college success outcomes for underrepresented students (Mayhew et al., 2016).

EXPERIENCES OF STUDENTS WITH
UNDERREPRESENTED IDENTITIES
IN RESIDENCE HALLS
Mayhew et al. (2016) suggested that living in
a residence hall increases retention and persistence even when controlling for other variables such as high school GPA or SAT/ACT
scores, in large part because of increased social integration. However, other researchers
argue that students of color (Boettcher et al.,
2019; Harwood et al., 2012; Johnson, 2003),
transgender students (Krum et al., 2013),
LGBTQ students (Tetreault et al., 2013), and
neurodivergent students (Belch, 2011) face
unique and challenging experiences when
living in residence halls and may not derive
the same benefits as their peers. Johnson
(2003) found that students of color, when
sharing their perception of the racial climate
in residence halls, reported a significantly more negative experience than did their
White counterparts. Harwood et al. (2012)

described how students of color experienced
racial microaggressions, observed racial
slurs written in common areas, perceived
de facto segregation, and experienced feelings of not belonging due to racial jokes by
their fellow residents.
	
In another study, Black students reported a sense of not belonging due to the lack
of representation of their race in the residence halls and campus-wide (Hotchkins &
Dancy, 2017). Additionally, Altmaier (2019)
found that students with underrepresented
identities did not feel safe in the residence
halls and often felt that the institution did
not support them. Residents managed these
experiences by finding safe spaces such as
organizations comprising students of color
(Hotchkins & Dancy, 2017), self-selecting
living arrangements with few or no White
students (Hotchkins & Dancy, 2017; Koehler
& Skvoretz, 2010), and attending institutions with gender-inclusive housing (Krum
et al., 2013).

RESIDENCE HALL STAFF
SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS WITH
UNDERREPRESENTED IDENTITIES
Resident assistants play critical roles in fostering student success and are often the first
line of support for students (Altmaier, 2019;
Blimling, 2015; Boettcher et al., 2019). Resident assistants have long been considered
leaders in promoting diversity on college
and university campuses and supporting
students with underrepresented identities
(Pope et al., 2009), bringing the social identities of resident assistants into focus. Research confirms the importance of diverse

Resident assistants have long been considered leaders in promoting diversity
on college campuses and supporting students with underrepresented identities,
bringing the social identities of resident assistants into focus.
Volume 47, No. 2 * 2021

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