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Residential rooms offer a critical opportunity for students to meet, interact, and learn from one another. Yao states that university residences play a significant role in a student’s life, both socially and academically (762). Hence, it is imperative to make sure that learners interrelate with colleagues who can add value to their lives. Studies show that university residential rooms facilitate intercultural relationships and community building because they encourage student engagement. This paper will discuss the merits and demerits of diversity in residential rooms in universities. It will also evaluate the differences between American and Chinese universities.
One of the benefits of pairing learners in residential halls is that it instills a sense of belonging in the students, especially those from the minority communities. Yao argues that interactions between learners from diverse cultural and racial backgrounds promote interpersonal relationship, which is invaluable in their academic performance (763). Encouraging learners to share rooms with colleagues from different racial settings promotes social acceptance, resulting in students coexisting peacefully. Studies show that scholars of Asian origin who study in the United States suffer from anxiety due to cultural differences and language barriers.
Pairing these students with domestic learners in the residential rooms helps them to adjust to the new environment. According to Arcidiacono et al., diversity in university residential rooms facilitates student adaptation (1042). It expels a feeling of loneliness amid international learners, which could be detrimental to their academic and social life. Interaction among learners impacts different spheres of their development, including selflessness, cognitive skills, attitudes, and content knowledge (Cheng 221). Similarly, the relationship between students from different social and cultural backgrounds can promote their growth.
Diversity in residential halls deprives some students of the opportunity to relate to students with whom they share culture and language. A study conducted in the United States found that some learners were opposed to sharing rooms with international scholars due to cultural differences (Hurtado 189). They argued that living with international students made them feel uncomfortable and deprived them of the prospect to feel like a part of the residential community. According to Sacerdote, sharing rooms with international scholars may result in loneliness (17). It is imperative to appreciate that some learners do not have an interest in other people’s cultures (Terrell 23). Such students may not understand the need to connect with their colleagues from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Comparison Between American and Chinese Universities
In the past, universities did not emphasize diversity in residential rooms, allowing students to select their roommates. Later, American colleges realized that allowing learners to decide on whom to share rooms with resulted in racial segregations (Anderson). Students from minority groups and international learners experienced challenges in adapting to the residential community. Consequently, some of these universities came up with policies that did not allow first-year students to choose their roommates (Anderson).
Instead, the universities paired incoming students based on social and geographical diversity. The situation is different in Chinese universities where students have the liberty to select their roommates. One of the reasons why Chinese institutions are not strict is the low number of international students. The few scholars who opt to study in China are given a leeway to pick their roommates.
Diversity in residential halls in universities is critical because it helps international learners to adapt to their new environment. These learners develop a sense of belonging, which is vital to their social and academic life. Moreover, diversity promotes peaceful coexistence amid scholars. The primary disadvantage of pairing students with colleagues from a diverse cultural background is that this move might result in loneliness. One distinct difference between American and Chinese universities is that the former does not allow first-year students to pick their roommates.
Anderson, Nick. “In the Push for Campus Diversity, Should College Students Choose Their Roommates?” Chicago Tribune. 2018. Web.
Arcidiacono, Peter, et al. “Racial Segregation Patterns in Selective Universities.” Journal of Law and Economics, vol. 56, no. 4, 2013, pp. 1039-1060.
Cheng, David X. “Students’ Sense of Campus Community: What It Means, and What to Do About It.” NASPA Journal, vol. 41, no. 2, 2004, pp. 216–233.
Hurtado, Sylvia. “Linking Diversity with the Educational and Civic Missions of Higher Education.” The Review of Higher Education, vol. 30, no. 2, 2007, pp.185-196.
Sacerdote, Bruce. “How Students Can Benefit from Randomly Assigned College Roommates.” Parenting. 2018. Web.
Terrell, Melvin C. Diversity, Disunity, and Campus Community. National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, 1992.
Yao, Christina W. “Unfulfilled Expectations: Influence of Chinese International Students’ Roommate Relationships on Sense of Belonging.” Journal of International Students, vol. 6, no. 3, 2016, pp. 762-778.