“What is it like to be in college right now?” “What are you too afraid to say?” Jasmine Franco asked those two questions of fellow students as part of her Grogan Residential College capstone project. With their responses and funds from an iBelong grant, the sophomore created a mural inside Grogan Hall.
“I wanted to showcase the issues that students need to talk about, but don’t necessarily feel comfortable talking about,” said Franco. “With this mural, I hope that students will see their issues, thoughts, and feelings being represented and feel less alone or isolated, making them more willing to have those conversations with their peers.”
Franco’s belonging project was one of 16 funded by the UNC Greensboro’s iBelong Project, an effort to build a culture of belonging that permeates every area of the University. From a community-building series of volunteer opportunities for graduate students to a book club, and a sensory wellness Zen Zone at the Kaplan Center and an exploring gender workshop, belonging events spanned the full academic year. Through the iBelong grants, UNCG encourages students, faculty, and staff to lead, get involved, and expand the sense of belonging on campus.
“Having people all over campus invested in activities, large and small, that showcase and promote welcoming and belonging enables us to have a substantial impact on our students’ success. When students feel like they belong, they are more likely to stay here and persist through any challenges they encounter,” said Cathy Akens, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.
This academic year, $7,565 was dispersed to support belonging efforts thanks to the support of the Bank of Oak Ridge and the generosity of donors who support student-focused inclusion initiatives on campus.
The iBelong Project grants were developed in response to findings from the 2018 Culturally Engaging Campus Environments (CECE) survey that identified that students’ sense of belonging was 10% lower than overall student satisfaction. To review the full list of belonging events funded this academic year, click here.
The Campus Climate Committee hopes to secure funds for a third consecutive year of belonging grants for the ‘22-’23 academic year. Visit sa.uncg.edu/ibelong for more information.
Story by Kimberly Osborne, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications