By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com September 15 2012 1:43 PM ET
Plans are progressing for an LGBT “affinity house” that will be home to at least 15 students at Dartmouth College.
The house will likely open in 2013 or 2014, college administrators told the campus newspaper, The Dartmouth, this week. Activists at the Hanover, N.H., Ivy League school have been urging the creation of such a house since 1999.
“It creates a social space where queer people can be explicitly queer in a queer environment, a space where you aren’t going to have somebody walk by you and randomly yell, ‘Faggot,’” said Matthew Melikian, chair of the group Gender Sexuality XYZ. “In some [fraternity] basements, that’s just a thing that happens a lot of the time. Not every space at Dartmouth is warm and accepting to queer people. As much as we’d like that to be the case, that’s just a lie.”
The house will provide communal space for residents as well, and will help meet employers’ and graduate schools’ increasing demand for applicants with “skills related to LGBT experiences and dynamics,” The Dartmouth reports.
Some students have expressed concern that such a house will segregate and isolate LGBT collegians. However, Pam Misener, the Office of Pluralism and Leadership’s adviser to LGBTQA students, said it is based on the concept that “people want to congregate around their shared interests.”
“I think everyone wants to have that sense of home, that sense of belonging that you can’t always find on other spaces on campus,” she said.