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The University of Texas at Austin Division of Student Affairs

Texas Well-being

Belonging and Access

Think of belonging and access in education as an ongoing effort with three distinct but related goals (Waitoller & Kozleski, 2013): to more fairly distribute learning opportunities; to recognize and honor the differences among students; and to provide opportunities for marginalized groups “to represent themselves in decision-making processes.”

As a conclusion to their meta-analysis, Waitoller and Artiles (2013) argue that belonging in the classroom should be treated more broadly. Rather than focusing on a unitary identity like “disabled” or “female,” for example, treat the idea of belonging in the classroom through a lens of intersectionality, considering all relevant identities and groups that have been historically marginalized in educational settings.

  • Consider student needs when it comes to seating, visual/audio equipment, note taking, test taking, response opportunities, etc.
  • Consider providing your pronouns and having students share their pronouns on the first day of class.
  • Provide resource information in your syllabus or elsewhere. See University Resources.
  • Be prepared to allow for and respond to different student responses within the content.
  • Explicitly talk about mental health and well-being to normalize difficulties.
Professor and students practicing building empathy for elderly patients

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I’ve had students screaming, fighting in class, but I guess from my perspective, I don’t really mind. I see that as I’ve created a safe space where everyone feels that they can be themselves…
—UT faculty member

The whole student