Residence Life Conference 2024

Embracing Diversity at the CUBO Residence Life Conference 2024

This year’s CUBO Residence Life conference was our most ambitious to date, spanning two days and bringing together a range of exceptional speakers to inspire colleagues across residence life. 
The theme for this conference was Embracing Diversity: Supporting LGBTQIA+ Students.

We know that LGBTQIA+ students face unique challenges, and that more must be done to support their wellbeing and transition into university life. In their workshop, WAU agency took us through some eye opening stats on the disparity between the campus accommodation experience for cisgender and non-cisgender students, and the urgent need to address the gap.  

We were honoured to be joined by a roster of speakers with lived experience and the generosity to share their stories and insight for the benefit of our diverse student communities.  

We learned about the importance of visibility and listening to students, the need for safe – or brave - spaces, and shared best practice on successful strategies to reach out to LGBTQIA+ students. 


Visibility matters 
It is important that we declare our values proudly, and demonstrate that LGBTQIA+ students will be welcomed, safe, and supported to thrive on our campuses. 

Visibility can be in the form of sharing pictures and social posts, displaying posters and wearing lanyards or pins with the LGBTQ+ flag, and documenting everything you are doing for inclusion – it’s something to shout about! And we should be doing this all year round, not just during Pride month.  

We heard from many speakers that seeing and connecting with others who have been through the same experience can be life saving. 

Colleagues shared their own experiences of making sure their LGBTQIA+ identity and/or allyship is visible to students to help them feel more comfortable expressing their own identities. Reslife staff are mentors to students, and as such they can be a role model and help residents to learn to advocate for their needs. 



Powerful talks from Shaan Knan on Supporting Trans people of Faith, and Lady Phyll on the founding of Black Pride, demonstrated how important it is to take an intersectional perspective. 

Intersectionality is a framework for inclusion and non-discrimination, recognising that we are more than one thing, and that our identities are influenced by many different aspects. When we work with LGBTQIA+ students, we must appreciate that their wider identity is much more complex. 



A standout message from the conference was that working with others is essential in being able to fully support and embrace LGBTQIA+ students. 
Residence Life staff should be working closely with Student Unions – the eyes and ears of the student body. Suggestions included creating a joint calendar and organizing an informal meeting of SUs and RAs to link up and achieve more together. 

Reaching out to and listening to student groups, including Pride groups and mature students, will provide valuable insight and reach – especially when combined with linking in with staff LGBT and community groups to build a holistic support model together. 







Centering the student voice 

Getting students involved in residence life was a recurring theme throughout the workshops. 

One of the most important parts of the Residence Life conference is the Student Residence Life Panel, where the student winners of the Residence Life Star Awards share their experience and recommendations. 

This year’s panel talked us through their own journeys in residence life and what they’ve learned along the way, including recommendations for encouraging cross-society, cross-group activity to break people out of their naturally formed groups, and how working in residence life has boosted their resilience, people skills and confidence.  

Residence life Star Awards 

On the evening of 16 May, the annual Residence Life Star Awards celebrated the student and professional stars of 2024, with Nick Choudhury from the University of Nottingham winning CUBO-Acuho-I Residence Life New Professional of the Year and six outstanding students winning individual awards. 

The residence life community as a whole was commended and recognised for the incredible work taking place every day to support students in university and private residences. Winners received their awards from LGBTQ icon Charity Shop Sue, and an evening of entertainment from local drag artist Kitty Tray finished the evening on a celebratory high. 



Had a great time and learned so much from this conference. Having plenty of opportunities to network and learn from other universities has given us great ideas to take back and implement within our own Residence Life programme!

Tazmin Rowe-Anthony, Cardiff University

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