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Minoritized RAs
Being within a residence life office that hosted social justice-oriented professional
development and trainings was particularly helpful in allowing these identity-affirming
microclimates to form and positively shaped RAs' experiences. As Zac explained,
On campus, the nature of the [residence life] community is very " woke, " if you will. People
are open to having a good dialogue with students from different backgrounds and very
good at connecting to students from different backgrounds. Even if they're not part of that
demographic, they're aware of it and still engage. If they don't know something, they're
very upfront and forward . . . They try to at least learn.
Emere echoed this appreciation for the openness and acceptance that she experienced:
People in residence life are just very open and understanding of different identities and
paths. People in that office have extensive training on acceptance, microaggressions,
and things like that. This means they're very mindful about the way they approach some
subjects and things. That made me more comfortable coming to [them].
Hosting expertly organized social justice trainings for professional staff and RAs contributed
to an overall atmosphere that made RAs with minoritized identities feel that
they could enter their positions fully.
Another element enhanced by an identity-affirming microclimate for students
within this study was connecting to peers or mentors with shared or similar minoritized
identities. Although students with minoritized identities spoke of establishing
positive relationships with mentors and peers with a dominant identity, who were
knowledgeable about social justice topics and honest about the individual self-growth
work they had left to do, some RAs in the study highlighted how relationships with
those having the same or a similar minoritized identity added layers of richness to their
residence life experience. As Braelynn shared,
My [early residence life mentor] was also an African American woman and she had that
perspective, which was very encouraging to me-for her to instantly accept me as me . . .
Another [residence life mentor in my second year as an RA], we shared the same gender
identity and religious identity. She helped me make connections among the intersections
of being in academia, a woman, and religious. They both reassured me by being role
models who shared my identities and they did their jobs well.
Relationships with other students or staff in residence life with shared identities or
deep commitments to social justice created an empowering space for minoritized students
that enhanced their RA experiences. As Jesslyn explained, " The women around
me on my RA staff shaped me; the other women on my staff empowered me; my
[women] residents empowered me. "
Building Identity and Capacity
An identity-affirming microclimate helped cultivate an atmosphere in which RAs
with minoritized identities effectively engaged with their identities and built out their
capacities as leaders and educators. As indicated in Figure 1 (see page 19), the categories
18 The Journal of College and University Student Housing

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