Beginning fall 2019, Elmhurst College will begin offering LGBTQIA+ inclusive housing on campus called the True Colors Community, which will be located in the basement of Schick.
Although Residence Life received a proposal from EC Justice in November 2018 to begin planning for the LGBTQIA+ housing option on campus, the conversation began in May 2018.
The community will offer 32 spaces for students starting in the fall semester, giving trans-identifying students and queer students the opportunity to live in an inclusive environment.
One of the ideas behind implementing the housing was to ensure the comfort and safety of students on campus, therefore allowing students to room with others that are of a different gender.
“The whole idea of it is that gender doesn’t matter, so you’ll be roomed with a random person, but if it’s a comfort issue I’m sure they’ll work it out,” said EC Justice president Katrina Mioduszewski on the topic of traditional gendered housing.
One of the main criticisms faced by the students who were on the planning committee were complaints of the housing being considered self-segregation.
“There was a big misunderstanding about why the community is necessary, mostly from students,” explained Rachel D’Andrea, president of Queer Straight Alliance (QSA). “There was also some concern that that community could become a target for hateful people.”
“Technically the space isn’t solely for LGBTQIA+ students; it’s open to allies as well,” said QSA public relations chair Taylor Lutz. “But it was created specifically for LGBTQIA+ students in mind because it’s important to have a safe haven for people who may not always feel safe elsewhere on campus.”
D’Andrea, who is in her senior year, has been working on getting a LGBTQ+ living space since she was a freshman. She credits the staff as one of the reasons why the community has become a reality today.
“For the most past, any resistance to create a space like True Colors came before the staff who work here now,” she explained. “Everyone we worked with this year has been very open and supportive, so I don't want anyone to think otherwise.”
Focus groups were one of the main sources that served as a vessel for conversation and feedback between faculty and students for the True Colors Community.
“During the focus groups, student shared their needs for the community (large community space, ADA accessible, etc.) and we compared those needs with available spaces on campus that could accommodate those needs,” said Sarah Meaney, director of Housing in an email interview with The Leader.
On the MyHousing portal, students now have the option to choose whether or not they would like to be considered for the True Colors Community with the ongoing housing process for the upcoming academic year.