Over 650 regular staff and hundreds of part-time student employees sustain the facilities, services, and programs that support the University's residential communities. We hope you'll join the Housing team!

Undergraduate ResStaff Class ALA 421: Creating Inclusive Communities

Goals and Purpose
Residence Staff at Michigan work with residents to build, develop, and nurture a supportive and stimulating multicultural community. This course will provide you with the foundations, both intellectual and social, to work toward this goal using readings, large group presentations, classroom exercises, and practical experiences. The information you will take away from this course will be with you for the rest of your life; no matter what work you do or where you live. The following five areas highlight the emphasis of the class:

  • Identity development
  • Building inclusive communities
  • The role of power and privilege in intergroup relations
  • Being an ally for all residents
  • Facilitating one on one interactions, group dynamics, and community-building

Students will develop an MPortfolio, in which students integrate learning from inside the classroom and outside activities through an electronic portfolio. See MPortfolio for more information. The portfolio includes examples of retrieving reflecting, integrating, and documenting knowledge that has been gained through experience and connecting that knowledge to values, beliefs, and decision making.


A student taking the class must:

  • Complete all reading and writing assignments on time.
  • Actively participate in the small group meetings.
  • Attend two one-on-ones with facilitators.
  • Actively participate in three Sunday afternoon meetings.
  • Demonstrate a positive attitude toward building an inclusive community.
  • Basic Course Information
  • Who is in the Class

All candidates who receive a status letter stating they have been hired for an RA or DPE position, or who have been placed in the alternate pool, are required to take the class.


ALA 421 is only available to students who have been hired for ResStaff. Information and override instructions to register for this class will be provided at the time of hiring.

The class may be taken for no credit or two credit hours. Grading is based on a credit/no credit basis. If this class will put you over 18 credits, adjustments may be made at the beginning of the semester by contacting the class coordinators at ResEdStaffClass@umich.edu.


Attendance at all Sunday and small group sessions is mandatory to successfully complete this course. Attendance will be taken at all sessions. Only one absence, for any reason is allowed. No exceptions or approved absences will be given. Classes begin promptly on Michigan time. Any late arrival or early departure beyond ten minutes from the class start/end time is considered an absence. Leaving class for more than ten minutes and returning later also counts as an absence.


The times that you will be expected to attend the class are as follows:

Sunday Sessions — It is mandatory that students attend all three of the following Sunday group meetings:

Sunday, January 12, 2020 from 3 to 6 PM
Sunday, February 9, 2020 from 3 to 6 PM
Sunday, March 22nd, 2020 from 3 to 6 PM

Small Groups — Each student will be assigned to one of the following small group times. The small group class meets weekly.

Fridays: January 17th through April 3rd, 2020
Tuesdays: January 21st through April 7th, 2020
Wednesdays: January 22nd through April 8th, 2020


In order to retain your status as a staff member for 2020-21 or as an alternative, you must successfully complete the class.


Q: Can I change sections?
A: You will be placed in a section based on the times you give us. We will make changes if necessary prior to the first small group meeting. We cannot guarantee changes, as some of the sections may be full. After the first meeting, no changes will occur.

Q: What is a Sunday session?
A: Sunday sessions are a time for all students in ALA 421 class and facilitators to come together. Some are large group sessions including speakers and community scenarios; an experiential activity that allows you to practice what you’ve learned thus far, and other topics relevant to the course.

Q: What is a small group?
A: Small group is a time for you and about 15 people to come together with facilitators to discuss, share, and experience issues of multiculturalism, inclusion, community, conflict, and communication. This time is the heart of the course with you as the learner and the facilitator!

If you have questions regarding the staff class, please email any questions to ResEdStaffClass@umich.edu.