VCU could see LGBTQ specific housing by Fall 2016
VCU may soon begin to enhance the college experience for LGBTQ students, teachers, and allies with potential LGBTQ-friendly housing coming to campus.
Faculty began discussing the possibility of bringing a “Lavender Housing” community to the university in July. The idea was brought up by the VCU’s Campus Climate Index work group, which is involved in offices all over campus to promote LGBTQ support expansion.
The Campus Climate Index work group closely follows and works with the suggestions of the national organization Campus Pride, which serves campuses across the US to promote the areas of leadership development, support programs and services to create safer, more inclusive LGBT-friendly colleges and universities.
Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director/Founder Campus Pride, spoke about the concept of Lavender Housing at VCU and the benefits it can provide for students.
“It would be a living-learning community where students opt to live in a residence hall or floor [and] are offered extra opportunities and studies related to the community’s focus,” said Windmeyer. “So the Lavender Housing would be an LGBTQ living space where students could feel safer.”
This desire to create safe spaces is a core value for LGBTQ inclusion on campus, said Windmeyer.
“By creating safe spaces to live on campus, LGBTQ students are more likely to thrive academically,” said Windmeyer, “They would be surrounded by students with similar beliefs, agendas, and so on. Having Lavender Housing will encourage the student to achieve the best they can do by knowing that their campus administration recognizes and supports them.”
In the eyes of Campus Pride, if a college is considering these kind of LGBTQ housing options, it’s a big deal.
“If this housing is brought to campus it could be really positive thing for VCU, and make the university look more appealing to an LGBTQ student looking at colleges,” said Windmeyer.
If a Lavender Housing community does become available, VCU is most likely to start out small with an area set apart in an already-existing residence hall according to Dale Smith, English Instructor and Coordinator of Undergraduate Advising.
Old Dominion University, which has come up often in work group conversations with VCU Housing, started their Lavender Housing option with 18 students.
The hope is the community will flourish after its initial set up at the university.
“VCU Housing has made it very clear that if the Lavender Housing option becomes available, they want it to involve educational and event programming about LGBT issues and history for the students,” said Smith, who also works with the VCU’s Campus Climate Index work group and believes the Lavender Housing community could expand the LGBTQ conversation on campus.
“The students can gain knowledge about LGBT culture and about the numerous ways LGBT people have contributed to society, the students could then interact with the larger VCU community in a more conscious manner.”
But with this new project, concerns of VCU’s sexual minority community becoming isolated are also being discussed. Smith acknowledges the critics who say college is a time to prepare young people for the “real world,” but he doesn’t quite agree with the assessment.
“I would remind [critics] that college as a whole, does not reflect the real world,” said smith. “Rather, college prepares students to interact meaningfully and consciously with others when they graduate and do enter the real world.”
Lavender Housing, according to Smith, would give students a rare space to claim as their own.
“Students can grow in ways that will bring about more meaningful interaction with each other and with the world at large,” said Smith.
Lavender Housing is still being discussed by faculty and has yet to be made an official project on campus. If approved, the earliest a Lavender Housing community would be available would be in the fall semester of 2016. With lots of support already being shown towards the project, we may be seeing more pride at VCU fairly soon.
Tim Bostic, of the federal marriage case Bostic V. Rainey which is set to overturn VA’s ban on same-sex marriage, was denied tenure by his employer Old Dominion University last week. The Virginia Pilot is reporting both Bostic and the school administration are denying the lack of promotion has anything to do with the case [...]April 29, 2014
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