The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2 - 100

Deborah Worley

Purposeful social integration in
residence hall environments is
manifested in practice through
intentional programming that is
designed to facilitate development
of personal identity and values,
notions that are present in Beamer's
framework.

living, personal identity, and values systems.
The emphasis is on growth and movement
in one's developmental journey from dependence through interdependence to independence (within a group setting). Beamer applied
Nevitt Sanford's (1967) work on challenge and
support to explain how residence life professionals can best serve students on their developmental journeys, with the goal of attaining
"a sense of community, internal well-being,
and self-realization" (p. 34).

Community in Retrospect

All three of these concepts align with what
Beamer (1974) referred to as group living in
residence halls, where living in close proximity to one another is essential to establishing meaningful relationships and fostering a
sense of belonging. Beamer explained that the
organizational and mechanical components of
residence halls, such as room configurations,
placement of lounge space, and hallway routes,
can (and should) be manipulated to create opportunities for interaction among residents.
This assertion positions the physical structures
that house students as the vehicles for establishing relationships and sense of belonging.
Beamer's (1974) points about identity as
an important notion of community are based
on the notion that residents' personal identities can be developed and strengthened if they
are given opportunities to establish meaningful relationships that connect them to one
another. He also named residential living
communities (referring to the shared physical space) as the optimal environment where
this important step in college students' identity development takes place. Quoting from
Harold Riker's monograph on residential

BEAMER AND CONTEMPORARY
NOTIONS OF COMMUNITY
Beamer's (1974) notions are reflected in how we
consider community today. Although there is
no universally agreed upon contemporary definition, there are three concepts that are at the
heart of community: a physical territory or area
where people live and/or work (Goe & Noonan,
2007); the relationships between people that
connect them to one another (Goe & Noonan,
2007); and feelings gained from connections
with others (McMillan & Chavis, 1986).

100

. . . community-building has shifted
to an outcomes-based model, where
assessment of student learning is
used to guide community formation
in residence halls and, ultimately,
to gauge the health and success of
housing programs.

THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING

learning centers, he writes, "where the individual counts as a person . . . problems of
anonymity and loneliness will be reduced and
learning will be stimulated" (p. 34).
Three decades later, sociologists questioned
the extent to which a shared territory requires
members to be physically or geographically
close to each other (Goe & Noonan, 2007).
However, the importance of individuals feeling
connected, or having a sense of community,
remains unchanged from the time of Beamer's
(1974) publication to the present day. McMillan and Chavis (1986) defined this sense of
community as the "feeling that members have
of belonging, a feeling that members matter
to one another and to the group, and a shared
faith that members' needs will be met through
their commitment to be together" (p. 9). McMillan and Chavis outlined four key elements
of a sense of community:
1) 	 Membership: feeling like you belong to a
group;
2) 	Influence: knowing that you make a
difference and that you matter to the
group;
3) 	Reinforcement: feeling a sense of
fulfillment as the group meets the needs of
its members;
4) 	Emotional connection: feeling connected
to members through shared history,
experiences, and belief systems.
An updated version of this definition acknowledged that emotional connection does not
require all members of a community to think
the same thing (McMillan, 1996). Rather,
the search for a sense of self and one's personal values-and sharing this journey with
others-can also establish a strong emotional

connection. Beamer (1974) made this point in
describing values systems as being integral to
community in residence life settings. He emphasized the importance of students having
personal values and demonstrating congruent behavior, noting that they achieve these
milestones in a shared living space where they
come into contact with others.

The notion of community has been
further reconsidered to focus on
inclusion and a sense of belonging
for students who live on campus.

The concept of developmental socialization is not explicit in contemporary notions
of community, but it is embedded in the
generalized and contemporary definitions of
community, largely through Beamer's (1974)
analysis of challenge and support in residence
life. Quoting from Nevitt Sanford's Self and
Society (1966), Beamer wrote that, for students "challenge occurs when the realities of
his new environment decisively contradict
the student's expectations of himself " (p. 35).
Beamer positioned the network of individuals,
particularly residence life professionals, within
the student's community as essential and
necessary supports to facilitate developmental growth through these points of challenge.
These networks represent important relationships between people that provide the connectedness in community described by Goe and
Noonan (2007).

V O L U M E 4 6 , NO. 2 * 2 0 2 0

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The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2

Contents
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2 - Intro
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