Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2 - 60

Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Identities
For housing and residential life professionals, efforts to
support RSSIs can help set the standard for support from
the moment a residential student arrives on campus.
religious, secular, and spiritual identities. Greater understanding of and engagement
with RSSIs could help to overcome aspects of structural racism and colonialism within
higher education as well (Wilder, 2014).
Any student affairs professional can and should continue to implement their
commitment to support the whole student and their various identities. For housing
and residential life professionals, efforts to support RSSIs can help set the
standard for support from the moment a residential student arrives on campus.
Professionals can proactively foster communities that address potential feelings
of marginalization by working on relationships between roommates who may
have different beliefs and practices. Professional staff can also invest in trainings
and curricula that build awareness of how RSSIs can affect student learning
and development. Furthermore, housing and residential life staff can create physical
and psychological environments that celebrate and engage the different RSSIs
likely to be present within the student population. These and more recommendations
are covered in the following section.
CHALLENGES OF RSSIs FOR HOUSING AND RESIDENTIAL LIFE WORK
There are many ways that RSSIs can and do become relevant in the context
of housing and residential life. RSSIs become significant factors in the interpersonal
relationships that students are expected to build among themselves
in residential spaces; housing professionals must understand the relationships
that form between staff and residential students, how staff consider
RSSIs in their efforts to advance student learning and development in programming,
and how residential environments can either dismiss or encourage RSSI learning and
development. For each of these areas, there are notable challenges that commonly
emerge in the field and opportunities that are yet to be realized.
Interpersonal Relationships Among Students
At the core of residential life work is the support of interpersonal relationships amongst
students, especially those who room together. The insertion of RSSIs into the equation
of student interpersonal relationships can be complicated depending on the variables.
For students who are often quiet about their religious, secular, or spiritual identity but
have traditions that they wish to practice, like having a shrine or meditation space,
the concerns that residential staff have for them may be minimal, simply focusing on
negotiating when a student might ask for privacy to conduct their practice. For some
situations, especially in the case of those individuals who are more hostile about religion
or may have practices of proselytizing, the situation can quickly become problematic.
In these situations, professionals should be cautious about who has the " right "
religious practices and instead focus on articulating the need for a community that is
60 The Journal of College and University Student Housing

Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2

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