The subject of social class is not one that is easily discussed, but the book Straddling Class in the Academy: 26 Stories of Students, Administrators, and Faculty from Poor and Working-Class Backgrounds and Their Compelling Lessons for Higher Education Policy and Practice (Stylus Publishing) addresses it head on and challenges anyone working in higher education to start conversations on the subject.
Authors Sonja Ardoin and becky martinez (she does not capitalize her name) provide an in-depth analysis of social class in higher education and contend that social class cannot be reduced to a single definition, despite the fact that it influences all aspects of our lives. The introduction provides an overview of social class and classism in the literature, while the first chapter specifically notes how higher education was created to educate individuals from middle-class to upper middle-class backgrounds. Additionally, it presents theoretical models related to social class that go beyond financial status and provide an excellent foundation and context for the remainder of the book.
Chapters two through nine contain narratives from a variety of individuals from poor and working-class backgrounds who now find themselves as students and professionals in higher education. They begin with six powerful, moving, and insightful stories where students recount how their social class identities caused them to feel isolated in higher education settings. This was particularly true for undergraduate students; for graduate students, their class background did not allow them to take on debt through loans or credit cards. Additionally, stories from the graduate student perspective focused on how to empower other students to share their social class story.
Later chapters include nine narratives from early-career, mid-career, and senior-level professionals. These individual narratives provide important clues about how social class identity impacts them, from how this identity is perceived by others to choices they have made to support students from poor and working-class backgrounds. These illustrate the passion each group shares for higher education and the desire “to do something to reduce elitism, classism, and other isms in higher education.”
The authors synthesize the narratives and conclude with tangible ways individuals working in higher education at all levels can increase social class inclusion. Examples of their recommendations include recognizing and naming classism, asking students and families from poor and working-class backgrounds for their feedback on policies and practices, and learning about campus and community resources that can help students with their basic needs (e.g., food, free events, etc.). For housing and residence life professionals, these chapters will expand thinking about what can be done to support students from poor and working-class backgrounds. For example, Ardoin and martinez provide a set of reflection questions to guide thinking and identify individual social class stories and potential biases. They also call out the jargon, heavy reliance on acronyms, and other factors that exist in higher education that may confuse students. The book serves as a valuable resource for staff development and can help housing staff and residents become more attuned to the ways social class influences their living communities.
What is most valuable is the compressive approach the authors use to describe social class identity beyond financial status. The information and narratives are compelling and critical for student affairs educators, particularly housing professionals, wanting to make higher education and university housing more inclusive for individuals. Straddling Class in the Academy invites us to reimagine and redesign our practices, policies, and procedures in our own spheres of influence in order to promote inclusion and equity in higher education.
— Dena Kniess and Tony W. Cawthon
According to the latest data available from the American College Health Association, approximately 20% of the students who have taken the association’s National College Health Assessment since 2015 identified as asexual, bisexual, gay, lesbian, pansexual, queer, questioning, same-gender loving, and trans (non-binary). With that number in mind, the editors of the most recent themed issue of The Journal of College and University Student Housing write that “given the growing population of students living in institution-owned residential facilities and the increasing number of students identifying within the LGBTQ+ community, it is important that higher education be prepared to support these students in campus living environments.”
Such was the motivation of the three guest editors who selected and reviewed submissions for the publication. The project was led by R. Bradley Johnson, a clinical associate professor of higher education at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. He was joined by Tony Cawthon, director of graduate studies at Clemson University, and Zachary Blackmon, the associate director of operations at Wake Forest University. The resulting six articles highlight the varied lived experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals in college and university housing.
The Journal of College and University Student Housing has produced one themed issue each year since 2007. The 2021 issue will address student staff hiring practices. Justin Leibowitz from the University of Louisville and J.C. Stoner from the University of Texas at Arlington will be guest editors.
Yanel de Angel, a principal in Perkins & Will’s Boston, Massachusetts studio, has been inducted into the AIA's College of Fellows. Only 3% of AIA members have been promoted to this status since the association began. Her design aesthetic focuses on service to the community; therefore, her style is influenced by the creation of global, civic, and professional community. Additionally, she is an advocate for women and minorities in the field of architecture.
While the world took steps to support the fight against the spread of the coronavirus, a number of businesses that normally serve the campus housing profession did as well. Among the companies who contributed was Beantown Bedding. The company offers eco-disposable sheets that are disposed of after each use, eliminating the need for laundry while being offered in bundled sets.
CBORD, which provides technology to assist with housing and food service, hosted webinars and provided increased technical support for colleges and universities that converted residence halls in order to support health care efforts. Among the tasks they assisted with were managing room assignments, tracking cleaning efforts, and providing access for non-campus employees. A separate webinar addressed moving traditional dining centers into to-go options.
Finally, ResLife Portal, a residence life management system, opened the resident tracking capabilities of its system, to be used by cities, counties, or states that need to track temporary housing assignments. The free service could be used to track temporary housing for health care workers who need lodging or others who are in self-isolation.