Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 2 - 61

Using Inclusion Assistants

Inclusion assistants were keenly aware of the gravity of
their positions. They knew the cost associated with students
continuing to experience marginalization and the real prospect
that they could make or break their residents' experiences in
the residence hall and college overall.
need for expanding the number of inclusion
assistants so they feel less overwhelmed and
can invest more in their residents.
	
Sufficient time should also be invested
in clarifying the roles and responsibilities of
inclusion assistants and resident assistants.
This was an ongoing source of tension that
arose in focus groups with both groups and
residence hall/residence directors, who were
tasked with supervising both of them. Equal
attention should be paid to how the roles
differ and to the work shared between them.
Additionally, intentional and specific strategies should be created for inclusion assistants and resident assistants to work together
across their differences related to issues of
diversity and inclusion. Given their supervisory role, residence hall/residence directors
must have an active part in these conversations. This advice applies not only to the specific program in this study, but also to similar
models in residence life settings.
	
Possibilities for future research studies
are numerous. One line of inquiry would be
exploring similar programs in different contexts: institution type, region, student demographics, and residence life models. These
contextual factors likely influence the experiences of inclusion assistants (or similar positions) and should be investigated more fully.
Another study might examine the outcomes
of the experiences more robustly, perhaps in
a quasi-experimental model that might better isolate the effects of inclusion assistants.

58

The Journal of College and University Student Housing

Linking these results to persistence and retention would also be beneficial. Another line
of inquiry might be to determine the ideal
ratio of inclusion assistants to students. We
are hard pressed to offer specific guidance
to practitioners about how many inclusion
assistants is sufficient; future research might
illuminate this question.

CONCLUSION
Residence life at PWIs is rife with possibilities and challenges, especially for students
with underrepresented identities. While
this experience can be an important catalyst to promote student success, it can also
be difficult for students to feel included
and supported. When students feel connected, involved, and that they belong, they
are more likely to be successful (Boettcher
et al., 2019; Chang et al., 2005). Inclusion
assistants, like those examined in the current study, play a vital role in supporting
both students with underrepresented identities and those in the majority. Though the
inclusion assistants model undoubtedly has
demonstrated value, the program could be
improved with more adequate support and
intentionality. Practitioners wrestling with
how to bolster inclusion through various
staffing models and positions would be well
served by looking at the inclusion assistants
as a promising model.
 

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

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