The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2 - 41

Cultivation of Support Networks by Students of Color

students think less about race than do students having other racial identities (Hurtado
et al., 2015; Steck, Heckert, & Heckert, 2003;
Wildman & Davis, 1997), and racial stratification on campuses is increasing (Fry, 2013).
Residence life staff are uniquely positioned
to effectively address the issues of White students' shallow understanding of race issues
on campus and in society. Through active
and passive programming, staff can foster
group dialogue to develop a deeper and more
complex understanding of race. On a more
intimate level, staff can address issues of race
in activities like roommate agreements and
conversations about campus incidents. Additionally, staff engaging in dialogue about community and national and international issues
can serve to make race more salient to White
students. Finally, through confrontations in
response to incidents involving racist activity
(e.g., epithets, vandalism, etc.) and conduct
hearings, both student and full-time staff can
potentially impact students' learning at critical
moments in their development.

Providing opportunities for dialogue
among Students of Color. Finally, it is important to support Students of Color as they search
for time and space to come together and share
experiences. Residence life staff can assist in
fostering those connections by promoting and
helping to reserve space for meetings in their
communities. As discussed by participants
in this study, it is important that Students of
Color feel connections across campus. As one
participant shared, "If I know you and I see
you, I'm going to say hi to you on campus or
anyplace." Residence life staff can support Students of Color in their work to build networks
by providing space and opportunity.

Implications Beyond Residence Life
Much of what participants shared about their
residence life experiences is transferable to
other settings: offices providing direct support
to Students of Color, student organizations,
the classroom, and across divisions of student
affairs. Just as participants stressed the importance of CAs knowing students' names and
majors, connecting with students regularly,
being available, and encouraging students to
participate in events, so should other staff and
faculty engage with Students of Color.
Additionally, faculty and staff should seek
out opportunities to learn about social justice
issues and the associated vocabulary and to
stay current with social movements on and
beyond campus. In an increasingly contentious social and political landscape, the ability
(and willingness) to have difficult conversations is essential. As colleges and universities
seek to diversify student, faculty, and staff populations, surfacing issues of privilege, power,
and history need to be continuously addressed.
While community advisors are well positioned
to engage in the work in residential communities, the transformation of higher education on
an institutional level is the work of all campus
community members.

Implications for Research
While this study provides insight into the experiences of Students of Color at one PWI, additional research is needed. Replicating this
study at other PWIs could be one step in understanding how different campus contexts
impact the experiences of Students of Color.
Exploring the specific role of CAs and other
housing staff is also important. Examining

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