Creating a community where all students, faculty and staff belong is one of our university’s highest priorities. That’s why our mission and vision assert that we strive to “be welcoming and foster belonging and success for all.” When each of us attends to the environmental factors that contribute to belonging, we are better positioned to advance our mission and vision. A lot of factors play into our sense of belonging. In the broadest sense, there are both internal and external factors that foster our sense of belonging. Internally, each of us needs desire and motivation to belong. Externally, we need to feel welcomed and affirmed for who we are and meaningfully engaged in the direction of our community. By attending to these external factors, we can have the greatest influence on others’ sense of belonging.
At Oregon State, attending to environmental factors may look like campus leaders organizing to change the namesakes of campus buildings to positively influence students’ and colleagues’ sense of belonging. It may also look like one of our community members recognizing and an act of bias and intervening.
As individuals, when we learn in this domain, we may increase our ability to examine the conditions of our campus climate with greater complexity and do so in a manner that attends to dimensions of power and privilege. We may also improve our ability to empathize, manage conflict and collaboratively solve problems. As a community, when we learn together we take steps toward realizing our institution’s mission and vision that we are welcoming and foster belonging and success for all.