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Housing and residential life staff serve as some of the most important professionals
on campus. Some of the most impactful conversations and experiences for
students happen within residences; as these settings are a micro community
from which the entire campus takes shape, beginning conversation in these
spaces is a tremendous step forward.
halls offer these spaces, and more needs to be done to foster a campus experience in
which spaces for prayer and meditation are validated as a component of RSSI inclusion.
Most campuses include a variety of spaces used for programming for a variety of
marginalized groups, including multicultural or LGBTQIA centers. RSSIs should have
similar spaces allocated for use. While not always within the direct purview of housing
and residential life professionals, advocacy for such spaces by staff and RAs can go a
long way toward creation of such spaces. It is important to consider these spaces as
something of value, and not as an afterthought, and they should not be located in undesirable
locations like a basement or in an area that some students may not be able to
access based on mobility, since this sends a nonverbal implication that these functions
are not valued by the institution (Strange & Banning, 2001). There is ample opportunity
to consider these spaces, as well as renovations that may be necessary to provide
them, as part of larger diversity, equity, and inclusion conversations.
We have worked with campuses that have begun intentional communities wherein
RSSIs take center stage. As the current IDEALS study (Interfaith Youth Core, n.d.) has
heavily documented, college students who have at least one friend from another tradition
are more likely to hold greater appreciative attitudes toward the entire tradition
than students who do not. Intentional living-learning communities can be spaces in
which to engage the whole campus through the leadership development of students
who may go on to work with administration to foster important changes in campus
policies and practices. Furthermore, the presence of these communities continues the
above-mentioned opportunities with admissions and international student offices by
offering examples of ways in which these students could be engaged should they choose
this institution and as yet another representation of the institution's commitment to
valuing and supporting RSSIs. In the end, the campus climate is especially important to
supporting RSSIs, whether that be in the form of physical spaces or the environmental
conditions in which conversations around such identities are safe and welcomed.
ADVANCING THE WORK BEYOND RESIDENTIAL EDUCATION
The previous section outlined several strategies that can help housing and residential
life professionals address the diverse religious, secular, and spiritual concerns of students.
This final section looks at ways to advance the work by creating cultures that affect
the larger campus and the student body and serve as a long-standing commitment
to diversity and inclusion.
The work of housing and residential life departments often includes helping students
meet dietary needs in the form of dining services. Many traditionally marginalized
religious identities will find that options of Kosher (Jewish), Halal (Muslim),
and lacto-vegetarian (Hindu) diets are difficult to locate within campus dining centers
Volume 48, No. 2 * 2022 65

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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