April 14, 1998 · Cavalier Daily

Not Ready for Gay-Friendly Dorms

This opinion article discusses the University's reluctance to establish a "gay-friendly" atmosphere, and the possibility of offering gay dormitories. The writer objects to this possibility, stating that separating gay living spaces would create an atmosphere of ostracism.


1998-04-14 Cavalier Daily Not Ready for Gay-Friendly Dorms.pdf
Kiki Petrosino
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
Not Ready for Gay-Friendly Dorms
University should add resources for gay community before offering separate living area
NO ONE can deny that the University has been slower than most institutions to create a so-called "gay-friendly" atmosphere. In 1998, it reasonably can be said the community is dragging Its feet on this issue. With other colleges making significant strides in gay, bisexual, and transgender awareness, it seems a poor commentary that the University still is without a student center or an assistant dean to facilitate more change.
On April 8, The Cavalier Daily ran an article. 'Gay dorm opinion sparks discussion at University," that raised speculation about allowing gay students the option of living in a "friendIy" dormitory on Grounds. In the artlcle, the author notes that “whether the University community is ready, or even willing, to establish a gay-friendIy dorm remains unclear."
True enough. The real question, however, does not concern the University’s willingness to create such a dorm, but whether the separation itself is necessary. While the need to create University-wide awareness of the homosexual community is significant, separate living facilities for gay students would do more harm than good.
As stated in the article, the University of Massachusetts’ effort to integrate its community began in 1985, when it established one of the first gay student centers in the country. Several years later the university designated a floor in one of its dorms as "gay-friendly." The change supposedly helped gay students by allowing them more control over their living situation.
At Rutgers University, integration dates back even further. In response to the Stonewall Riots, the then-newly-founded Rutgers Student Homophile League (now called the Bisexual, Gay Lesbian Association of Rutgers University) issued a 1970 manifesto calling for the equal treatment of homosexuals. Since then, Rutgers has established itself as one of the most open campuses in the nation, with a gay alumni association and gay archives. Some student fees even go toward groups promoting homosexual concerns (The Atlanta Journal/Constitution, Jan. 2. 1994).
Examining those two collegiate success stories tempts one into thinking the University should go right out and establish gay housing. But the context in which University of Massachusetts Rutgers have is decidedly different from the University’s. In both cases, the move toward separate housing came after — not before — the establishment of other organizations and offices that specificalIy address the concerns of homosexuals.
The University, then, is missing the crucial foundation in the establishment of better relations with its homosexual students. Really, the University as a whole cannot embrace a gay dorm until it has learned to value the gay community itself. For this reason, the establishment of such a dorm should not precede the founding of a gay student center whose main focus is education
But those arguments aside, the fact that homosexual students feel uncomfortable enough even to desire separate housing should alarm many. This institution prides itself on being a community of trust, where meaningful discourse and tolerance are key concepts. The fact that gay students feel so alienated that they are willing to alienate themselves by living in separate housing proves this philosophy is flawed.
At this time, therefore, the introduction of a gay dorm would send the wrong message to the community. Instead of saying "We live here – please accept us," the gay community would be opening itself up to more targeted attacks — i.e. "We live right here — please ostracize us." This effectively would set things back instead of moving them forward.
At the University, we need to establish a tradition of tolerance before physically changing the housing policy. A gay student center, as well as academic classes dealing with lesbian and gay studies, would be satisfactory starting points. The transition will be a difficult one, but necessary in the coming century.
In the meantime, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Union must continue its efforts to educate the community. University observances such as “Proud to Be Out Week” and the “National Day of Silence” should become traditional events. Only through education can the University hope to embrace – and celebrate – all the elements that comprise its diverse community.
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Date Added June 29, 2016
Date Modifed April 30, 2018
Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about LGBTQ issues

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