When you start “the rest of your life” after high school, many now taking their first steps into College and University, how many are worried about where they will live? For many freshmen across the United States living on campus is a requirement, so easily decided upon. However potluck roommates can often lead to exasperations and those atrocious stories which are almost expected to be joked about for the rest of your adult life. In some cases though it is not a matter of simple frustration and stories for later, for some there is a genuine fear and danger. For someone in the LGBTQ community who is unsure of if their roommate is against the community, or even worse positive that their roommate is, can have a justified fear of violence; both verbal and even physical violence.
The safety and comfort of every resident who lives on campus is the concern of the University and Colleges Departments of Housing. Recently this very issue of housing safety had begun to take the forefront of departmental discussions. This is the Hot-button issue of the past couple year and most likely the next few years as well. Inner-hall governments, Campus-wide organizations, and administrations beyond the level of one campus, are having serious discussions regarding this. For many within the discussions, the solution comes in the form of a separate LGBTQ hall, floor or set of wings. At present there is even a petition for such a neutral floor to be created within Jester here on the University of Texas Campus.
This effort to generate new policies and reform adopts many names at the moment, ranging from our own campus’s “Gender Neutral Housing,” to an LGBTQ Community, to Gender Indiscriminate housing, to Old Dominion University’s “Lavender House.” Old Dominion University, of Norfolk Virginia had officially announced the creation of Lavender House. First a division of the college of William and Mary, Old Dominion University achieved independence in the early 60s and reached university status in the late 60s an enrols an approximate 24,000 including undergraduate and graduate students. According to the reporting of CBS 6 of Richmond Virginia, “The University said it will offer dedicated living quarters in the Fall of 2012 for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning students and their supporters.”
The creation of Lavender House takes a firm stance on offering firm support for all their students. This culmination of the joint work between the Department of Housing and ODU’s Safe Space chapter has reportedly been met with great popularity on campus. The creation of Lavender House is the direct result of the voice of ODU’s students in a survey last semester. The new House responds to two concerns, that of housing itself and the requests of students to have a more visible resource for LGBTQ students.
The questions raised by some are of the effectiveness of this idea. Will this consolidation of community be successful? The decision to reside in such communities automatically marks you as a member of, or friendly to the LGBTQ community. Will students who have not yet chosen to be out on campus feel uncomfortable joining? Will this new community even leave a positive impact on student’s lives and be continued in the future? I would be interested to hear what you think! Leave a comment if you would like to share.
Here is a link to the University of Texas’s Petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/utgenderinclusive/
Here is a link to ODU's Lavender House: