A second home: Indigenous considerations for campus housing

The experiences of Native Students in campus housing has had limited attention in scholarship, which restricts cultural understanding and opportunities to create inclusive living environments. College and university housing is well positioned to create a positive living environment for students. We raise concerns on how higher education institutions may inhibit Native students and their worldviews through common practices such as the resident assistant carousel interview. Using the insights of a study published by “Kirkness” and “Barnhardt” in the “Journal of American Indian Education in 1991,” we apply the Four Rs that represent issues faced by Native students–respect, relevance, reciprocity, and responsibility–in order to make relevant the cultural significance of place, community, and spirituality among Native students that can be applied to college housing. Our examples include the naming of Wassaja Hall at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the O’odham Ki: living-learning wing at the University of Arizona; and the smudging policy at South Dakota State University. A careful explanation of the meaning of land, Indigenous knowledge, and Indigenous ways of being is provided in order to help strengthen practices and improve the housing experiences for Native students.