Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 2 - 55

Using Inclusion Assistants

Theme 1: Inclusion Assistants Positively
Impact All Students
Our data suggest that inclusion assistants
have a generally positive impact on students,
especially those with underrepresented identities such as students of color. Support came
in many forms: maintaining an active presence around the residence halls and larger
campus, providing visibility for underrepresented students in their formal leadership
roles, and having dedicated and recognized
responsibilities for supporting students with
underrepresented identities. As one resident
commented about their inclusion assistant,
He is always in the lobby. He lives on the
third floor, but he spent a lot of his time
on [the] first floor where I live, just getting
to know and checking in on everybody,
making sure we feel comfortable with
where we're living, and making sure we're
enjoying our first year.
Many of the interviewees commented on
how the inclusion assistants (IAs) were key
in supporting students in their transition
to the university, especially those who were
experiencing a campus environment that
was much different than their home environments. One resident stated, " The IA has
helped me just adjust overall to being here. "
Another stated,
I think that IAs are very beneficial to the
minorities here, whether they be racial
or . . . I don't want to say able-bodied, but
able-bodied people as well. But yeah, it's
really nice to have somebody that knows
where you're coming from.
	
Inclusion assistants also supported students remaining at the university when they
were considering leaving. One hall director
commented, " I've met so many students
where it's like they [inclusion assistants] are

52

The Journal of College and University Student Housing

the difference sometimes of whether or not
someone stays, or they go. " This persistent
theme of supporting students with underrepresented identities is also evidenced within several documents we reviewed, including
their job descriptions and training materials.
Participants in the study, from residents to
residence life staff, felt that the inclusion assistant program met the value of supporting
students with underrepresented identities.
	
Although they focused on supporting
those with underrepresented identities, inclusion assistants also supported students in
the majority. One residence hall/residence
director noting the context of being at a PWI
commented that inclusion assistants act as
important role models for what inclusion
looks like. " That role model piece is huge for
our inclusion assistants. They just are able
to provide an example of somebody different
to our majority students, and it can change
stereotypes and change perspectives. " The
residents we interviewed who held mostly
majority identities all spoke positively of the
inclusion assistants and appreciated having
someone concerned with their adjustment to
college and to living in the residence halls.

Theme 2: Inclusion Assistants Foster
a Sense of Belonging
Our data suggested that the support provided by inclusion assistants converged on
fostering an overall sense of belonging in
the residence hall and in turn at the institution. Inclusion assistants promoted a sense
of belonging among students with underrepresented identities by relating with their
experiences and being visible role models
for these students in formal leadership positions. One resident of color summarized
this sentiment: " It was really important to
see people of color that are in leadership positions. " Many residents and inclusion assis-



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

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