How ‘Home’ is Created on a College Campus: A Study of Students and Their Residence Hall

Sarah Engle Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Elise Edwards Butler University
Many college students would agree that some of their first relationships at college were formed in their first-year housing. Communities are made and friendships are forged through the attachment to the dormitories as a “home away from home”—but why is this the case? Research conducted by anthropologists Pascarella and Terenzini (1991) revealed there are layers of significance in a place and college students need to be able to create a relationship with their residence halls because it affects all other facets of college life. While classes and social interactions can ebb and flow, a residence hall is a constant for students and can ultimately determine whether students have a meaningful healthy experience on campus or not. Drawing on this, I analyzed the nature of communal spaces in first-year residence halls. To uncover the connections between place and person, I engaged in participant observation and student interviews in Butler University’s oldest residence hall, Ross Hall. Through my research I found that having an area only accessible to the students gives a sense of privacy and is something students only in this residence hall can share. This is a space that inspires tradition and ritual and does not have one specific purpose so it allows students to connect their own meaning to a space. The freedom for students to form their own individual bonds and meaning to their residence halls is what allows them to feel comfortable and confident when living on their own for the first time.

Anthropology
Oral Presentation

When & Where

01:45 PM
Jordan Hall 238