Places as Spaces: Students Belong and Matter


Have you ever wondered what goes into a student deciding to spend time on campus? For many underrepresented students, having somewhere that feels safe, secure, and welcoming is paramount to their success. Join us, Thursday, Nov. 12 at 2-3:30 p.m. for a virtual presentation, where we will discuss how physical spaces affect students’ perceptions of being welcome on campus, including centers, rooms, and landmarks. Alex J. Lucier, Ed.D Candidate – Counselor Education & Supervision will present.

“As our society grapples with issues of equity and access, we really should be thinking about how our spaces, the foundations for learning and socializing, can facilitate growth and equity.”

Alex J. Lucier

What led to creating this event?

ALEX: “I’ve been studying Student Affairs for 4 years now, and in the field, we talk a lot about student belonging and mattering. Something that is not talked about nearly enough, in my opinion, is the role that physical spaces become places of learning, so I thought that it is a good time to thinking in-depth about how aspects of our physical spaces can either bolster or hinder those ideas of belonging and mattering. Considering we’re in a pandemic, and much of the campus spaces are more empty than usual, I believe that we have a good opportunity to make meaningful changes before the spaces are utilized at full capacity again. Attendees should expect to learn about the effects of space on belongingness, how to see it in action, and ways to apply this to our own campus.”

Where are places that underrepresented students can go to feel safe, secure, and welcome (on campus or off campus)?

ALEX: “On campus, one of the safest, most secure, and most welcome areas for students of color is the offices of the Multicultural Center, OASIS, and the hallway between them. You can see just how students turn that space into a second home, where they don’t feel the need to defend or explain their existence as a person. The same goes for the LGBT Center for LGBT students, the Women’s Center for female students, Accessibility Resources for students with disabilities, and the Veterans Resource Center for our student veterans. They not only just provide services (as explained in their names), but a place to make their own.”

Can you provide a sneak preview/specific example of how physical spaces can affect students’ perceptions of being welcome on campus?

ALEX: “For underrepresented students, having an active center that is fully staffed with competent professionals conveys the message that the institution cares about them and their wellbeing.”


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