The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2 - 97

Community in
Retrospect:
Exploration and
Evolution of
Communities in
Residence Halls

EXPLORING THE EVOLUTION OF COMMUNITIES in
residence life settings on American college and university
campuses yields a framework for considering community
in contemporary residential environments. Beamer's (1974)
four notions about community (group living, personal
identity, values system, and developmental socialization)
inform the inquiry about how community is physically
and emotionally fostered for residential students. After
considering contemporary examples of how Beamer's
notions are present today, we find that they are still
relevant, albeit expanded in scope.
Looking back at Marvin Beamer's "Residence Hall Living: Four Notions
About Community" (The Journal of College and University Student
Housing, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1974)

Beamer's
points about
identity as an
important notion
of community
are based on
the notion that
residents' personal

DEBORAH WORLEY
Associate Professor, Higher
Education
University of North Dakota
Deborah.worley@und.edu

University of California, Davis
Davis, California

96

THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING

Community is a term often referred to in residence life work. We
talk about community with residents in terms of where they live
and how they engage with each other. We talk about community
with our staff in the context of developing inclusive facilities, delivering educational programming to residents, and engaging in
professional development activities. We instinctively understand
community to be at the core of our professional values in residence
life, but we do not often pause to consider its meaning, its evolution, and the importance of this concept to the future development
of the functional area.
In this essay, I seek to understand how the idea of community
has been historically defined, framed, and integrated into residence
life practice and how contemporary residence life reflects community in ways that are similar to or different from historical perspectives. To carry out this reflection, I will use Beamer's 1974 notions
about community in residence halls as a framework to compare
them to the ways in which community appears in residence life
today. By undertaking this exercise, residence life practitioners and
scholars will understand the evolution of community in residence
life settings from both historical and contemporary perspectives.

identities can be
developed and
strengthened if
they are given
opportunities
to establish
meaningful
relationships that
connect them to
one another.

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

97



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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The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2 - Cover4
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