Robbin May Balagtas

The Rhetoric of Belonging

Mentor: Karen Lunsford

“The Rhetoric of Belonging” is a study on how the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) promotes cultural diversity and a sense of belonging to undergraduate and graduate students. Since UCSB prides itself on inclusivity and UCSB students are told that they belong on campus, I want to look at how UCSB administrators understand and use the term belonging and whether students genuinely feel that they belong to the often identity-specific spaces on campus. Many of my friends and I have felt that the university administrators bring preconceived notions about the students’ places of belonging, which often prevents students from belonging elsewhere on campus. Are these places of belonging shared, restrictive, or exclusive? I intend to interview UCSB students about what belonging means to them, what it means to not belong, and how they found their place of belonging on campus. I will use the audio-recorded student experiences and turn them into a zine that will help define what students need from UCSB to belong on campus. I will create a zine in the format of a guide for future students, and I intend to publish the qualitative data and analysis as a research paper.