Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 50, No. 2 - 76

Undocumented Student Mattering
UNDOCUMENTED COLLEGE STUDENTS, who often live off campus for
financial reasons as well as family obligations, cannot take advantage of what
is considered to be a primary factor in facilitating student success: the sense
of community and of mattering that are provided by residence halls, residential
staff, and thoughtful programming. In order to determine the perceptions
that undocumented college students have of the on-campus experience,
this study investigated two central issues: (1) the barriers to undocumented
college students living on campus and (2) their perceptions of how living off
campus impacts their feelings of marginality or mattering. Participants' stories
highlighted feelings of marginality as a result of several significant challenges to
living on campus, especially family expectations and travel logistics.
Our findings can contribute to the scholarship and can inform student affairs
practitioners in their efforts to increase undocumented college students'
sense of mattering.
T
here are many benefits of living on campus, ranging from improved retention
(Schudde, 2011) and the development of a sense of belonging (Dumford et al.,
2019) to meeting interpersonal and health needs (Jacoby & Garland, 2004).
However, undocumented college students face several barriers to living on campus
(Raza et al., 2019), and few studies have been conducted on their perceptions of how
living on campus connects to a sense of mattering, which is a key component for student
success (Schlossberg, 1989). As such, the research questions guiding this study
were as follows: What are the barriers to undocumented college students living on
campus? And what are their perceptions of how living off campus impacts their marginality
or their sense of mattering? There is a pressing need to understand the experiences
of undocumented students as an avenue to best support them, given that their
experiences are continually shaped by hostile and uncertain sociopolitical and campus
climates (Nienhusser et al., n.d.; Shelton, 2019).
Higher education and student affairs (HESA) professional associations have called
for educators to better support undocumented college students, and a recent statement
by the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) and College Student
Educators International (ACPA) highlighted " deep concern over the exclusionary policies
and practices that have prevented higher education access and success of undocumented
immigrants (with and without DACA) " (Nienhusser et al., n.d., p. 2). Similarly,
HESA educators are called upon to support undocumented students and professionals
and to " bring about societal transformation where educational access, opportunity,
and success exist regardless of immigration status " (Student Affairs Administrators in
Volume 50, No. 2 * 2024 73

Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 50, No. 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 50, No. 2

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