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Minoritized RAs
In addition to individual conversations, RAs with minoritized identities engaged with
residents about social justice topics through programming and community building.
Nicky expressed excitement about being highly active in organizing several social justice
programs on their floor, describing their rationale for engaging residents in community
development in this manner:
I've done a lot of programs bringing in different clubs or bringing in the library archives
to talk about the history of where this place is-the land that our university was built on
since it is Native American land. So just trying to educate everyone on something, to make
them feel common community they can go to while they're on campus.
Social justice programming and educational conversations required a skillset from RAs that
they were actively building through practice, and RAs in the study viewed these efforts to be
closely tied to the development of their residential floor communities.
Empowering others. RAs with minoritized identities felt a personal responsibility to
utilize these campus leadership positions to generate empowerment in other students with
minoritized identities, providing mentorship to them in ways that inspired future pathways
to serve in student leadership roles and be successful within the institution. RAs also saw
themselves as representatives or role models for members of minoritized communities
outside the university setting, such as family and friends. For Brandon, this meant serving
as a source of empowerment for his family members by demonstrating what is possible
through university student leadership roles:
When I go home, I'm telling them about college and my being an RA leader, being a good
example for my cousins and brothers-there's a lot of pressure. I make sure I'm being a good
example for the people that I'm supposed to inspire.
Braelynn talked about building connections with other women of color at her institution
and supporting them on their journeys:
I kind of mentor in layers, women of color on my floor and women in general. It isn't an
either/or type of thing-there's overlap. I'm happy to be that representation and when
someone tells me I empowered them by pushing them to do something [like an academic
or leadership opportunity] it makes me feel awesome or empowered that I had an impact.
For Braelynn, seeing the difference she made in other minoritized students' college experience
generated empowerment within her as well. Similarly, Missy noticed that the
work of mentoring other students and serving as representation within her communities
contributed to her identity development: " You have to mold [others] and be a role model,
Engaging with social justice topics through their roles as RAs
provided participants with opportunities to create educational
residential hall programs that promoted community, provided
social justice perspectives, and remained authentic to their sense
of identity in pursuing important causes.
22 The Journal of College and University Student Housing

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