Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 50, No. 2 - 77

Undocumented Student Mattering
A large body of scholarship supports the numerous reasons
why living on campus can be beneficial to undergraduates,
including improvements in retention, sense of belonging,
and the ability to meet interpersonal and health needs.
Higher Education [NASPA], 2022, para. 4). These calls from professional associations
set the foundation for the current study, which seeks to inform housing educators of
the experiences of undocumented college students as an avenue to better serve this
student population.
CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
This study was guided by Schlossberg's (1989) work on marginality and mattering,
which addressed the concern of more fully engaging postsecondary students in learning
and defined mattering as " our belief, whether right or wrong, that we matter to
someone else. This belief acts as a motivator " (p. 9). On the other end of the spectrum
is marginality, a feeling that Schlossberg says " leads us to conclude that we do not matter "
(1989, p. 8), noting that " people in transition often feel marginal " (1989, p. 6).
In developing this work, Schlossberg interviewed 24 participants using a pre-existing
framework focused on four aspects of mattering (attention, importance, ego-extension,
dependence) in the three domains of relationships, work, and voluntary/community
activities, which then led to the addition of another dimension: the feeling of appreciation
one has when they perceive that their efforts have been recognized. Citing sociologist
Morris Rosenberg, Schlossberg ultimately concluded that " mattering is a motive
and does determine behavior " and emphasized that " we need to make sure our
programs, practices, and policies are helping people feel they matter " (1989, p. 11). In
addition, " describing marginality and mattering is not enough. There is a critical need
to help people deal with marginality so that they will eventually matter " (Schlossberg,
1989, p. 12). One way to address this need is through the " affirmation of rituals " during
the process of a transition, which involves three stages: an initial feeling of separation
followed by liminality or " a feeling of being between the old role and the new role "
(Schlossberg, 1989, p. 12) and then reincorporation.
Ultimately, the current study highlights Schlossberg's questions: " Do we have a
shared humanity? Can a campus community be created that allows all students to find
a place of involvement and importance? " (1989, p. 5). Connection is critical in this process.
" As people tell us their stories, we can listen in ways that connect us. . . . the most
important lesson is that even with our differences, we are connected by the need to
matter and the need to belong " (Schlossberg, 1989, p. 14), and this sense of mattering
leads to student satisfaction and retention. Schlossberg's marginality and mattering
framework guided the study, and we were attentive to concepts related to feelings of
connectedness and inclusion.
74 The Journal of College and University Student Housing

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

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