By Christina Hall, Staff Writer
With the goal of creating a safe location on campus for LGBTQ+ students, a new LGBTQ+ themed floor with be added within the residence halls beginning in the Fall of 2016. Specifically, the space will be found on the third floor of Scott Hall South.
“We decided the community’s location last fall as a result of high student demand,” said Kelsey
Champagne, who is Assistant Director of Housing and Academic Success. “[It] is expected to be a popular and sought-after living environment for undergraduate students who wish to live together in a community seeking to celebrate and support the LGBQTA community at UMF.”
Matthew Wyman, a transgendered student, agrees, “Many LGBT+ people have been asking for a space like this, outside of the Rainbow League. I know that if there is one thing we LGBT folks need more than anything, it’s a space where we can feel safe and just be ourselves.”
The new themed hall will be gender neutral, meaning that a transgender student who identifies as female would be roomed with someone who is female, instead of being roomed with a male because of their assigned gender.
“Transgender students are usually put in single rooms or given a roommate with the gender they were assigned at birth,” said UMF freshman Eryn Finnegan in her recent Odyssey article. “Gender fluid students face the same situation as far as roommates go. This creates an uncomfortable living situation, which is unfair to both the LGBTQ+ student and their roommate.” The floor will be able to provide a more comfortable living situation for students living on campus.
Though most are excited, there has been skepticism from some students about the dorm, thinking it might separate students even more because of how they identify.
“I have heard a lot of arguments against it saying that it will become a target or that its segregating,” said Amber LaRochelle, who would also like to be a CA in the new dorm. “I have also been told by others that they can’t wait to live there next year and are so happy that they have some place they feel they can be accepted.”
Wyman found the same reaction. “What I’ve heard has been almost overwhelmingly positive, but I’ve heard some concerns as well,” he said.
Wyman hopes the new hall will “become a great space for LGBTQ+ people, especially freshman.” LaRochelle agrees. “I hope that it [will] continue to be available and help others. . . by establishing a place that is free of hate,” she said.
Finnegan thinks that there isn’t much of a chance of students being targeted with this new dorm. “At UMF, a school dubbed ‘the gay school’ by many in the state, in a town where the local church proudly waves a rainbow flag,” she said in her article, “I do not see anything of the sort happening here, but it is a valid concern.”