New thematic residence hall community coming to IU in the fall
Feb. 19, 2015
A new community coming to IU this fall aims to provide a supportive and safe environment for students who identify across the gender and sexual orientation spectrum.
Called Spectrum, the thematic residence hall community in Teter Quad will have the potential to house up to 28 students.
“We realize it is not for everybody,” said Barry Magee, assistant director of residence life. “I have transgender students living all over campus, and lesbian, gay and bisexual students living all over campus. But we wanted to create an additional space for folks who might need more support.”
Goals of the living quarters include creating a community where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally students feel comfortable, safe and supported; providing an alternative space that validates those students' unique experiences; and nurturing students' exploration and development of gender and sexual identities through programs and activities, according to Magee.
Through a partnership with the GLBT Student Support Services Office and the Department of Gender Studies, the Spectrum community will also encourage students to participate in LGBTQA-related courses and connect them with resources and LGBTQA role models.
“The community has a direct connection with the GLBT Student Support Services Office on campus,” said Matt Jones, graduate supervisor of resident programs and services. “They are there to help guide a student-led leadership council and determine what kind of support the students need.”
Much of the design and inner workings of the community came from students, Magee said, including allies -- non-LGBTQ people who support the community -- living in the community.
Although more and more students are coming to campus already “out,” some still do not feel accepted, Jones said, particularly in their living areas.
“I can’t imagine what it would feel like going to bed every night and constantly not knowing what’s going to happen on your door or in the hallway or remarks made in the bathroom. These are all things that happen to our students,” Jones said. “Our goal is to create a space so they know when they go home they can feel safe within their own living environment.”
The new community will add to IU’s efforts to address the needs of LGBTQA students, which includes public gender-inclusive restrooms; single-user restrooms on residential floors; mixed-gender floors; and systems that prioritize preferred names.
So far it has received a broad range of support both on and off the campus including current and former students, faculty, the Office of Admissions, the Office of First Year Experience and the IU Health Center.
“In my role as a mental health counselor and a member of the GLBT Incident Team, I can attest to the value of having the university create a living space where students who identify somewhere on the GLBTQA spectrum can feel welcomed, and validated and feel they are safe,” said Debbie Melloan, counselor, sexual assault crisis services at the IU Health Center. “This will allow said students to continue their development in an environment where they are supported by roommates and mentors.”
Magee hopes to eventually expand the thematic learning community into a living-learning center that would have direct ties to gender studies and would accommodate up to 50 students.
Spectrum is currently accepting applications. The community is open to students of all academic levels, majors, gender identities and sexualities.
Those with questions can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.