The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2 - 36

Michelle L. Boettcher * Kurt Earnest * Angel Eason * Leslie Lewis

The Community Advisor
The identities held by CAs and how they engaged
in social justice issues were important to Students of Color. One African American woman
shared that having another African American
woman as a staff member was significant. The
participant approached the woman (who was
not her CA) and developed a relationship with
her. They discussed issues the participant felt
White staff did not understand, and she said it
was helpful "just to be able to see someone that
looks like you, that communicates like you, who
has the same experiences from back home."
Other participants also talked about seeking out
CAs with whom they shared racial identities.
Seeing CAs who were Black, Latinx, or Asian
American was important. Building relationships with them afforded participants insights
about navigating residence life and larger cultural and campus climate issues.

Friends and Roommates
Participants stressed the importance of people
in their communities as elements of their networks of support. One student said that friends
were the reason he persisted in college. He
took the initiative to build relationships in his
residential community, so he had more intimate connections than did those on the larger
campus. As he noted, "My freshman year I
made two of my best friends in the dorms and
they helped me get through my freshman year,
so if I hadn't lived in a dorm I probably would've
dropped out." He identified this support (social
capital) as essential to his success.
Participants sometimes described roommates in more neutral terms, but not all participants were necessarily looking for roommates
to be best friends. While they engaged in rela36

Hiring diverse community advisors
is important, but not all social
justice work can fall on Staff of
Color. White staff must also engage.

tionship-building with roommates in order to
create a sense of belonging, their investment
in roommates as social capital was lower than
their investments in CAs of Color or in friends.
As one participant said,
I didn't think [having a high school friend as
a roommate] would be the best way for me to
grow as a person in college. I really thought
that it would hold me back . . . So, I just got
a random roommate. He's really nice . . .
we just have a very above average, neutral
relationship.
Participants also developed their identities
and skills as race and social justice educators
through interactions with roommates. One
African American participant described an experience she had doing her hair:
It's an awkward thing to think about because
you don't consider just the simplicity of "I'm
doing my hair in my room," but when there is
no private space for you to go to it's "You're
doing your hair in our room," and if her
friends came in . . . I have to explain myself to
people I don't know.
As a result, in doing routine tasks this student
found herself educating White students about
Black hair.
Another participant also educated White
women in her apartment. When her suitemates

THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING



The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2

Contents
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2 - Intro
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