Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 2 - 60

While the rhetoric of " diversity and inclusion are
everyone's job " is important and true, it's necessary to
go beyond the rhetoric by actualizing this sentiment
and buttressing it with job descriptions, trainings, and
ongoing professional development.
sion assistants in a focus group serves as an
apt summary of the variation they experienced in their roles.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE
AND RESEARCH
We offer these implications for practitioners
who may be interested in offering supplemental student positions beyond resident
assistants within residence life, those looking to reexamine existing positions tasked
with promoting diversity and inclusion, and
researchers studying the experiences and
effects of peer positions in residence halls.
Overall, we found that the inclusion assistant
program has a positive effect on both students
with underrepresented identities and those
in the majority. The value of having a designated person in the residence halls to focus
on issues of diversity and inclusion is strong.
Although there are certainly issues that need
to be improved with the position, the program
has demonstrated value beyond a traditional
model of only residence hall/residence directors and resident assistants. We offer several
implications for practice based on our findings and in this vein: that this approach has
value and should be refined.
	
First, the inclusion assistant program
has demonstrated benefit to student success.
Areas of strength are the positive effects
the inclusion assistants have on both students with underrepresented identities and
those in the majority, as well as their ability
to foster a sense of community in the residence halls. As disparities in engagement
and campus climate continue to persist in

residence life and colleges and universities
overall (Blimling, 2015; Milem et al., 2005;
Quaye et al., 2020), programs or models
that demonstrate success in narrowing those
gaps should be continued, expanded, and
improved upon.
	
Inclusion assistant programs, and those
that are similar, need to confront the challenge of the burden that inclusion assistants
feel to meet the needs of all students in each
hall. While the rhetoric of " diversity and inclusion are everyone's job " is important and
true, it's necessary to go beyond the rhetoric
by actualizing this sentiment and buttressing it with job descriptions, trainings, and
ongoing professional development. All staff
should be held accountable for promoting
diversity and inclusion through performance
reviews, rehiring decisions, and meetings
with supervisory staff. Residence life staff
should audit and revise hiring practices to ensure that any newly hired resident assistant
and professional staff are committed to the
goal of improving inclusion in the residence
halls and across campus. Inclusion assistants
noted the difficulty in trying to advance diversity and inclusion in their halls when their
fellow staff were not similarly invested. Additionally, space should be provided in professional staff settings (e.g., monthly meetings)
for dialogue and check-ins about diversity
and inclusion issues and initiatives. Another
strategy would be to invest in more inclusion
assistants. Hiring enough of them to meet
the increasing and complex needs of students
with underrepresented identities is critical.
In the current study, participants voiced the

Volume 47, No. 2 * 2021

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

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