Schools, for generations, have encouraged new students to "find their place" in student organizations on campus. That is a bad advice, writes Lisa M. Nunn in the belonging to the university: how the first-year and first generation students sail in the life of the campus (Ruutgers University Press). Nunn, professor of sociology and director of the Educational Excellence Center at the University of San Diego, writes that the traditional approach puts too much of the UN to belong to the new student. And this approach, she writes she, is particularly bad for first generation university students.

Nunn answered questions about her book by email.

Q: What about the place? "Do message schools usually give students?

A: The problem is that the message implicitly puts the UN on students to find their own belonging. Yes, we have to make an effort to join New communities or ORGs; we can not simply close ourselves in our bedrooms and never talk to anyone. But also, I can not just go up to a new group with which I want to be a part, knock on the door and demand belonging. It does not work like that. The Belonging only happens when the group offers me. When I welcome me and make me a place. When the group makes me feel valued and important, I can not just go out and belong to myself just because I love it. by a community.

Then, the call to "leave" and find its place "could be useful to push the students through the door, but it establishes an expectation that it is my responsibility to find my own belonging And if for some reason I do not feel that I belong Anywhere in the life of the campus, then the message is clear: it is my own damn failure. No matter how hard I tried to find my place, if I did not find it, I'm the one who failed. What her book argues is that responsibility lies in the communities to welcome students and knit them in the tissue of campus life. When a student feels alone and drifting, she is not the one that failed. The community of her from her campus has failed him. It is a sociological perspective on how communities work and how belonging works.

Q: Is that wrong message for both first generation students and other students?

A: What I found in 186 interviews with students in two different campuses is that continuous generation students have a simpler way to belong. Is not perfect; There are ups and downs, and of course, university life is new for freshmen, so there are adjustments that have to navigate. But continuous students, particularly those who are at racial majority on their campus, are more likely to feel at home at home more easily than first-generation students and underrepresented students. Then, this message - "Find your place," does not possess such a large burden for them. Many continuous students can overflow in some clubs, organizations of students or teams and find a couple who feels good without too much effort. For these students, the campus feels as if it were full of other people who are similar to them, who enjoy the same activities, which are concerned about the same problems and that they really seem to love them.

First- The generation students, on the other hand, more often describe "find their place" as a fight. Joining the club after the club, I try Org after the Org, looking for a place where they feel at home, looking for people who make them feel desired and valued. And feel frustrated by discomfort and disappointment when another group is not correct. As I point out in the book, these clubs and organs and communities retain belongings instead of offering it. But from the perspective of a student, they feel as moments of personal failure. And refusal bites. It requires a durable courage and a lot of effort to "find your place" when the campus feels as if it were full of people who do not have it or are not interested.

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