Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol 49, No. 1 - 15

Minoritized RAs
Residence halls maintain strong potential to serve as
transformative spaces that can engender social change
and promote social justice.
Resident assistants (RAs) are integral to these educative processes, and their roles
on campus are broad and multifaceted. In addition to serving as institutional representatives
who enforce institutional policies and perform administrative tasks, RAs also
serve as key peer socialization agents who guide students through the transition to
college, host programs to foster residence hall student and community development,
and provide resources and referrals to students experiencing a range of social and emotional
challenges like homesickness, academic difficulty, and trauma (Blimling, 2015).
Through their positions, RAs can contribute to cultivating vibrant and inclusive residence
hall communities, supporting positive student development among residents,
mediating residential conflicts, and educating residents on pressing topics connected
to issues like mental health on campus (Becker & Drum, 2015; Bonfiglio, 2016) and
significant national and local events (Johnson & Kang, 2006; Roland & Agosto, 2017;
Schuster & Stalker, 2020).
Residence hall environments have strong potential to produce a range of positive
outcomes for residential students (Mayhew et al., 2016), though recent research
also shows that they can be spaces that allow for the manifestation of microaggressions,
identity-contestation, and dehumanization for members of non-dominant
identity groups, especially at predominantly white institutions (Harper et al., 2011;
Hotchkins & Dancy, 2017; Roland & Agosto, 2017) and/or historically hetero(cis)
normative institutions (Blockett, 2017; Kortegast, 2017; Pryor et al., 2016; Tillapaugh,
2015). In this way, campus residence halls may magnify issues related to broader
institutional, sociopolitical, and sociohistorical systems and structures embedded
within society that produce oppression through racism, sexism, heterosexism,
hetero(cis)genderism, classism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia (Bennett
et al., 2019; Strayhorn, 2015).
Undergraduate students with minoritized identities living in residence halls situated
within inhospitable campus climates regularly contend with these forces both
inside and outside of the residence hall environment. For these students, the minoritization
of their identities is systemically rooted in and enacted through microaggressions,
microinsults, and microinvalidations (Garcia, 2016; Nadal, 2013). Students of
color and LGBTQ+ students may come up against stereotypes, tokenization, and/or
openly discriminatory actions that intend to invalidate their personhood and produce
negative outcomes (George Mwangi et al., 2018; Kortegast, 2017; Renn & Reason,
2013; Schuster, 2017, 2021). Such invalidations may be compounded and amplified for
students with multiple minoritized identities who contend with overlapping systems
of oppression (Kulick et al., 2017; Suárez-Orozco et al., 2015).
Understanding the experiences of RAs with minoritized identities is important,
but the topic is largely absent in the literature. This qualitative study fills this gap by
examining the experiences of undergraduate college students with minoritized identi12
The Journal of College and University Student Housing

Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol 49, No. 1

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