On June 23, 2020 the Wellness Collaborative hosted a virtual university-wide event that focused on sense of belonging. Dr. Christine Logel shared her research on sense of belonging among post-secondary students and creating inclusive and caring campus communities by addressing barriers to belonging that many minority groups face on university campuses. Logel highlighted the idea of creating bright spots: opportunities that we can all use on campus to foster equity and sense of belonging.
Ways in which we can create bright spots on campus:
CHECK IN WITH OTHERS
Sometimes, something as simple as a check-in email can be especially impactful for both yourself and the individual you are checking in on. Showing your support and care for others creates a stronger sense of belonging that has the potential to initiate a snowball effect, creating a community that actively pursues stronger sense of belonging in many different ways.
SHOW OTHERS THAT YOU SEE THEM AS A WHOLE PERSON
While this can be challenging in a virtual environment, there are always things you can do to show others that you value them. Words are powerful, and doing something as seemingly simple as sharing a few words of empowerment at the beginning of a lecture or meeting has the ability to enhance sense of belonging.
A crucial aspect of supporting others who are struggling is to prevent them from concluding that their struggles mean that they don’t belong. There are many ways you can do this, including normalizing shared experiences that deal with feelings of not belonging, talking openly about mental health, and even sharing your own belonging story to help decrease feelings of isolation and loneliness.
CONNECT OTHERS TO RESOURCES
If you feel as though you have the capacity, being able to help connect individuals to resources is one of the most impactful things you can do to support someone. For academic advisors, this could mean teaching a student how to approach their professor with a question in a way that can help guarantee a meaningful response. For students, this could mean being able to support a friend in the decision to reach out to receive additional help. It is important to recognize that something as short as a minute of support could mean the difference between accessing or avoiding resources.
Another way we can support belonging is to support and honour others in their own sense of belonging stories. Sharing your own story of belonging can help to normalize struggles. To hear stories of belonging from members of our university community, check out the Stories of belonging at UWaterloo video on YouTube.
The Wellness Collaborative is committed to identifying meaningful actions for creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all students, faculty, and staff.
What is one thing you are going to do to foster sense of belonging today and every day?
If you're interested in watching the entire event, check out the Wellness collaborative: Sense of belonging event on YouTube.
Documents from the event
These documents are from the Wellness collaborative sense of belonging event: