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inclusive and safe for all individuals. Because proselytizing can lead to hostile environments
for students, especially non-Christians, professionals need to openly address
concerns about how to appropriately practice one's tradition without infringing upon
others. Administrators need to be keenly aware of many types of concerns and ready to
negotiate cultural differences in partnership with students. Administrators should not
simply try to dismiss such topics and needs as being a private matter or of no concern,
as they are liable to reinforce the environment of hostility.
Relationships Between Staff and Students
Relationships between staff and students (e.g., resident advisor or resident director to
resident) are a key component of residential life work. From the moment that housing
and residential life professionals assign hallmates and roommates, interpersonal
dynamics begin to be engaged. Students who are asked to navigate RSSI differences in
their halls and rooms are best served when professionals are adept at recognizing and
respecting RSSIs. Students will look to residence life staff to provide mentorship and
wisdom regarding many concerns, including how to navigate RSSI differences.
Housing and residential life staff may assume that religion is a private matter or
may be harboring implicit biases regarding religious identity. This is not uncommon,
especially when the negative views are toward evangelical Christians, who remain
among the most populous source of religious expression on campuses today (Pew
Research Center, 2019). Frustration with and hostility toward evangelical Christians by
student affairs professionals is simply a mask for the larger issue: that higher education
holds dismissive viewpoints regarding religious identity at large (Nielsen, 2020).
This can be tricky to navigate. As professionals seek to foster inclusive environments,
they may also push aside problematic religious identities and communities, which
runs counter to the spirit of inclusion and further marginalizes RSSIs.
One way to approach this is to address implicit biases regarding religious, secular,
and spiritual identities. Oftentimes, evangelical Christians are the subject of arguments
against religious inclusion on campus, with professionals pointing to anti-LGBTQIA+
and sexist attitudes by some evangelical communities as a rationale to avoid discussion
of and engagement with religious identities (Choi, 2019). These attitudes mask
the hidden bias that many students may experience from staff: to be religious may be
equated with ignorance (Nielsen, 2020).
GOALS FOR HOUSING AND RESIDENTIAL LIFE WORK
Programming and Educational Outreach
Programming and educational outreach are tools that housing professionals use to
support students' learning and development. This programming can foster a climate
within campus housing that is inviting and safe for students of a variety of identities.
Unfortunately, RSSIs are rarely considered topics for programming and education;
instead, they are seen as individual experiences that have little to do with the collective
community culture or climate.
Volume 48, No. 2 * 2022 61

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

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