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Societal openness to sharing and discussing one's traumatic
experiences in any capacity has led to a growing body of research
about vicarious or secondary trauma, which is the emotional distress
experienced by a person not directly impacted by an event, but
instead by the experience of hearing about another person's trauma.
Despite the seeming lack of pressure and stress, emerging adulthood can be a highly
volatile period-both professionally and personally-due to uncertainty, experimentation
with different roles, and efforts to construct a sense of identity.
The complications and stresses of emerging adulthood are compounded when
the individual is still entrenched in a history of personal trauma. Research suggests
that newly matriculating college and university students hold to the same pattern as
the general sample from the ACE study, with 66% of the sample reporting trauma
exposure in their childhood (Read et al., 2012). The implications are significant, as
young adults reporting trauma exposure are juggling possible trauma reactions from
past events and potential exposure to additional traumas at a time marked by the
development of an emerging personal and professional identity. For instance, young
adults with trauma exposure in their past are more likely to exhibit problems with
alcohol and risky behaviors (Walsh et al., 2014) and tend to engage in more risky
behaviors in general, which may put them at risk of additional traumas (Green et al.,
2005; Messman-Moore et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2004)). Unfortunately, accumulating
additional traumatic experiences and the potential for being revictimized while in
emerging adulthood can result in further consequences such as disordered eating and
neuroticism (Boals et al., 2014; Collins et al., 2014).
The impact of primary or personal experiences of trauma and secondary or vicarious
experiences of trauma within the developmental stage of emerging adulthood is
an important area for further research. As such, academic programs and institutions
of higher learning are paying more attention to the nature of trauma as well as the
trauma-related experiences of college students in general-and also of students who
function as employees. Residence life professionals, and resident assistants (RAs)
specifically, often witness and intervene when traumatic events occur on college or
university campuses. Thus, it is important to research the impact of trauma on those
students who serve in the role of the resident assistant in order to be able to improve
residence life programs and aid students who function in this unique role (Ostrander
& Chapin-Hogue, 2011).
RESIDENCE LIFE RESPONSIBILITIES
Residence life is typically embedded within a department, often referred to as housing,
and it stands out among other service programs on college and university campuses
in that its duties address all of a student's life experiences while at college. Housing on
a college campus sets out to provide students with a well-rounded experience during
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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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