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ties serving as RAs. Specifically, this study explores how minoritized RAs' campus experiences
contributed to the ways in which they made sense of their identities alongside
the RA role.
RESIDENT ASSISTANTS WITH MINORITIZED IDENTITIES
While RAs have important campus roles, there is little research on their campus and
leadership experiences, and studies conducted on RAs often employ identity-neutral
perspectives. In our review of the literature, we located three studies that researched
RAs with minoritized racial identities (Foste & Johnson, 2021; Harper et al., 2011;
Johnson & Kang, 2006), two studies that considered the experiences of women RAs
(Cousineau & Chambers, 2015; Posner & Brodsky, 1993), one study that considered
RAs' minoritized racial and gender identities (Roland & Agosto, 2017), and no studies
on RAs identifying as LGBTQ+, though several studies did include them within a
broader sample of LGBQ residential students (Anderson-Martinez & Vianden, 2014;
Evans et al., 2001; Mollett et al., 2020; Tillapaugh, 2015). Trans* students have also
been largely ignored in the literature, though many institutions' policies for forcing
trans* students into separate gender-neutral housing or onto floors arranged by sex
assigned at birth (Kortegast, 2017; Mollett et al., 2020) can create barriers that dampen
their aspirations to openly serve in RA capacities (Martin et al., 2018). Additionally,
with the exception of the work of Roland and Agosto (2017), there are no recent
peer-reviewed studies that investigate RAs with multiple minoritized identities.
In spite of the scarcity of literature about these student populations, we can utilize
the findings from across these studies to synthesize how students with minoritized
identities serving in RA roles continue to encounter and work to rebuff the deleterious
effects associated with marginalization and oppression occurring on campus, especially
within predominantly white or historically hetero(cis)normative institutions.
Trends culled from these studies indicate that RAs with minoritized identities are
often compelled to perform their racialized and gendered identities for their dominant
identity peers, residents, and supervisors in ways that account for otherwise absent
or underrepresented student populations (Roland & Agosto, 2017), disprove harmful
negative stereotypes (Harper et al., 2011), and conform to expected gendered roles
and behaviors (Anderson-Martinez & Vianden, 2014; Cousineau & Chambers, 2015;
Posner & Brodsky, 1993; Roland & Agosto, 2017; Tillapaugh, 2015; Wagner &
Tillapaugh, 2018). Supervisors, peers, and residents with dominant (i.e., nonmarginalized)
racial and gender identities may hold biased racialized, heteronormative, and hetero(cis)gendered
expectations for RA job performance that result in minoritized RAs
experiencing increased scrutiny of their leadership, role authority, and decision-making
capacities (Cousineau & Chambers, 2015; Posner & Brodsky, 1993; Roland & Agosto,
2017). They may feel increased pressure to combat these stereotypes by silencing or
by overperforming salient aspects of their identities in order to be hired into or succeed
in the role (Anderson-Martinez & Vianden, 2014; Harper et al., 2011; Tillapaugh,
2015). While minoritized RAs frequently see themselves as representing a visible pathway
for other students with minoritized identities to serve in the RA position in the
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