Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 2 - 56

. . . inclusion assistants felt overburdened and overextended.
Too often, issues of diversity and inclusion fell solely on their
shoulders, with little or no help from other members of the
residence hall.
tants commented that seeing students of color in formal leadership roles on campus was
rare, but the inclusion assistant program had
several leaders of color. This visibility sent
a strong message to residents that not only
do students of color and other students with
underrepresented identities matter, but they
can grow into formal leadership roles.
	
Inclusion assistants also fostered a
sense of belonging by cultivating intentional relationships with residents. One student
commented on how the inclusion assistant
helped her feel a sense of belonging:
I felt like I was the only Black person on
my floor, which ended up being true but
it's not that bad, but it's still like I didn't
really have anybody to talk to until I met
the inclusion assistant. Yeah. . . Being here
I noticed that some people may find it a bit
uncomfortable . . . I know that at our floor
meetings I'm . . . one of the only two Black
people on the floor. And when we have
meetings a lot of people don't want to like,
sit by me. I don't know if that's just because they don't want me to feel awkward,
or anything like that, but it's like I feel even
more isolated when they don't do that.
And then my inclusion assistant, he comes
to sit by me, and my RAs come and sit by
me, so those are like the people that I like
to talk to.
	
Inclusion assistants provided support
and empathy when students with underrepresented identities experienced discrimination, oppression, or a crisis based on their
identity. The inclusion assistants received
additional training about diversity and inclu-

sion and felt confident in their ability to have
conversations across differences and to value
and respect people who are different from
them. This is evident from their responses in a recent assessment report completed
by inclusion assistants. One of them commented, " The fact that they're comfortable
coming to me with questions that would be
very difficult to ask just anybody makes me
know that I'm doing something right as far
as being open and transparent with them. "
They also formed and hosted dialogue groups
where residents could be part of intentional
dialogue about discrimination, oppression,
and inclusion. Many residents talked about
the importance of this effort, as it provided a
space for them to be heard and find support
for issues they were experiencing.
	
Inclusion assistants also fostered a sense
of belonging by encouraging students to join
hall council and other student organizations.
This encouragement had a positive impact
on residents' experiences and provided them
with communities and additional support
within the larger university community. A
document we reviewed that led to the creation of the inclusion assistant program indicated that a stated goal of the program was
" connecting students with campus resources
related to diversity, equity and inclusion. "
The positive result of these connections was
repeated consistently in the interviews. As
one resident explained,
IAs, I think working with a whole building,
they're more of bringing people, like I
noticed . . . you might feel like you don't
belong here, but here's other people that
are feeling the same way kind of. Bringing

Volume 47, No. 2 * 2021

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