Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 2 - 57

Using Inclusion Assistants

them together and being like " hey, here's a
group for you that you could be with and
be comfortable with. " And then they're
in your building, and then here are other
resources you have that could help you
with that.
	
A final way the inclusion assistants fostered a sense of belonging was through bulletin boards. Though these were sometimes
derided as simplistic or trite, many residents
commented on how the self-guided learning
opportunities were meaningful to them. One
resident commented that the inclusion assistant " had these really cool boards up in the
lobby . . . It showed where everyone was from
and the demographics, and that helped me
to feel not as alone on campus. " Given the
focus on inclusion in their responsibilities,
inclusion assistants had a keen eye towards
finding ways to communicate to residents
that they belong in the residence halls and
the broader university. Students often cited
bulletin boards as important mechanisms to
foster a sense of belonging.

Theme 3: Inclusion Assistants Feel
Overburdened and Overextended
Despite the positive impact that inclusion assistants had on students with majority and
underrepresented identities, these successes
were not without cost. Most notably, 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. This finding was most pronounced in the interviews with inclusion assistants, who shared that they often felt pressure to support an entire residence hall on
all issues of diversity and inclusion by themselves. One inclusion assistant commented,
" I don't think it can possibly be done by just
one person in each hall. It's not practical to
reach all of the populations that we're trying
to reach in a way that actually works. " Another interviewee shared,
. . . how many dorms are there on campus?
There aren't a lot, so there's just a very
small team of people . . . that promotes
diversity but doesn't do a good job of
implementing it and it seems like it's just
the inclusion assistants sometimes just this
very small group of people that's trying to
help with that.
Many inclusion assistants noted that whenever an issue arose in the residence halls and
the student was from an underrepresented
background, they were often asked to respond, as if issues for students with underrepresented identities were always under the
jurisdiction of the inclusion assistant. One inclusion assistant said, " It's not just like, 'Oh,
that person's gay, that goes to the inclusion
assistant, that person's Black, that goes [to]
the inclusion assistant,' but that's how it is. "
	
Inclusion assistants felt that more is expected of them than of their resident assistant
counterparts, especially in terms of meetings
and educational sessions. In addition to their

With a somewhat ill-defined and broad charge to promote inclusion in
the residence halls backed by a pedagogy that empowers them to shape
aspects of the position as they think is best, inclusion assistants felt that more
was expected of them than of the resident assistants and more delineation
between the two roles was needed.

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