Researchers argue that “to deal with stress requires attribution to the community, even with discomfort”

by kat wilcox

In recent years, it has been actively screamed that “the mental health of university students is deteriorating,” and students who newly enrolled in the universityfeel higher anxiety, depression, and social isolation than the previous generation of university students. ' Shawna Shapiro , an associate professor of linguistics and education at Middlebury University , said it was not enough to stay comfortable and safe to alleviate the stress of such college students. Even so, community ownership is important in dealing with stress. '

Why building community – even through discomfort – could help stressed college students

At the time of writing, the majority of undergraduate students at American universities are the generation called Generation Z, who was born between 1997 and early 2000. This generation is classified as ethnically diverse, open-minded, hardworking and interested in global issues. At the same time, however, we know that this generation of university students is under great stress.

Like other researchers, Shapiro believes that university students have a sense of belonging to the community as one of the ways to deal with stress, and have been investigating what factors increase the sense of belonging. It was. Although it is difficult to objectively measure the sense of belonging, the importance, connection, respect, and shared sense of purpose for the community within the university are closely related. This feeling cannot be measured simply by academic achievement or dropout rate.

Decades of research have shown that one of the important factors that raises the sense of belonging is “frequent interactions with diverse groups of the same age”. Shapiro said that communication with diverse groups increases the opportunity to learn from each other and the students' impression on the campus as a whole. However, when Mr. Shapiro investigated at Middlebury University where he worked, “Is there any experience with backgrounds and perspectives related to different friends”, there was less involvement with people with different values than expected It turns out that On the other hand, many students had a positive evaluation of these exchanges.

by Stanley Morales

According to Shapiro's survey, many students thought that this university had a lot of social disruptions, and this trend applies to universities other than Middlebury University . Students thought that social disruptions existed not only in races and classes, but also between, for example, athletic and non-athletic students.

Many students seemed to want to overcome this social disconnection, but they did not know what to do. Among the students, “Students should take their risk out of their place and interact with people who have never interacted by living naturally.” “Students must take risks. “You should jump out of a comfortable space and focus on what you ’re interested in,” says Shapiro.

by geralt

When Mr. Shapiro asked students about the impression of the word “ Inclusivity ” used in the meaning of accepting various people without rejecting them, many students had an image of “peace” and “harmony” It was said. From this point, Shapiro pointed out that students want to engage with a variety of people but do not want any conflict or tension. Shapiro analyzed that students believe that the situation where everyone is comfortable and uncomfortable is important to a community of diverse people.

Shapiro says that students don't try to build diverse friendships to avoid conflicts in relationships, which creates a contradiction. Participation in diversity is an important element for raising the sense of belonging, and it is natural that there are conflicts, tensions and discomforts in relation to people with different values. If students evaluate in their interaction with people, “If I feel uncomfortable, this community is wrong in terms of diversity and inclusiveness,” the student will eventually become isolated. Mr. Shapiro points out that it may not be possible to get rid of the feeling.


In recent years, there has been an increase in `` Duck Syndrome (Duck Syndrome) '' in the American elite university students who have repaired their appearances so that they can spend their days smoothly, and are struggling hard and hard in a place where others can not see it . However, these duck syndrome students avoid being failed or struggling in a highly elite group, and are trying to work hard under the water to avoid being left behind by others. I remember that. Students who suffer from these duck syndromes tend to avoid discomfort such as collisions with their surroundings.

Under such circumstances, Stanford University has been carrying out the “ Resilience Project ”, which instills a sense of belonging and courage in students by “speaking about their failed experiences”. In this way, students do not avoid an unpleasant experience, but a movement to create social connections by sharing discomfort is spreading to American universities.

As a lesson from his research, Shapiro says that people in higher education themselves need to tell students that belonging to the community is not just comfortable. If we try to have social connections with people with diverse values, disagreements and conflicts are unavoidable, and there is a lot of potential for discomfort. “Attribution is a serious consideration of the potential of transformative learning in diverse communities,” Shapiro said.

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