UofR Creates LGBT Housing Community
Beginning next academic year, students at the University of Richmond campus will have a new inclusive living community for LGBT/Queer and allies.
This LGBT/Queer & Ally community will be open to seniors, juniors, and rising freshman interested in exploring issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
“It’s not just for LGBT students, but faculty, and straight allies as well,” Andy Gurka, Director of Living-Learning and Roadmap Programs, said.
This collaborative project is between Gurka’s office and the campus’s Common Ground.
The community will educate interested students on issues related to gender variance and sexual identity while extending its education and support network to the broader community.
According to the UofR, students will:
- Work toward the development of a permanent LGBTQ House for the 2012–13 academic year
- Engage in discussions about gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, and the intersection of those, as well as other identities (e.g. racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, etc.) with faculty, staff, and students around the University
- Work with established campus organizations around gender identity and sexual orientation to advance the University’s diversity goals and initiatives
- Explore ways to change the social norms and expectations that marginalize LGBTQ people
- Have social opportunities such as: weekend outings, community dinners, social events with other organizations, trips off campus into the surrounding community
Gurka said the process started in 2009 when a group of students approached his office about creating the themed community – which will now be one of twelve living-learning communities on the campus. The communities all have an academic component that connects to everyday experiences.
“It been on our list of priorities to accomplish,” he said. ”It just so happened that when we were able to identify faculty to assist with the program, funding, and space, we moved forward with this opportunity.”
He says it gives space to a group of students that have not had space to call their own on campus.
“The LGBT community is a minority that stretches across all socio-economic backgrounds. This program really does help support the university’s diversity initiative.”
The Campus Climate Index ranks schools based on their inclusion of LGBT-students. One of the metrics is LGBTQ-themed or designated housing. Two other Virginia schools have similar programs – Mary Washington and George Mason. Gurka said the university is working closely with these other institutions as the program moves forward.
More information about the community is available here.
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