Author: Charlotte Umanoff|Gregory Feiner
Residential Education (ResEd) will offer several additions to Occidental’s non-traditional housing options next fall by creating Queer House, the Social Justice Institute in Pauley Hall and the Global Diversity Floor in Newcomb Hall
Next year, 1480 Campus Road will become Queer House as part of ResEd’s themed living community program. Known as Pet House since 2012, the residence will provide a space for queer students to live together, discuss LGBTQ topics and provide programming for the house and student body, according to future resident Ben Weiss (junior).
Similar to Norris Hall quad applications, students who want to live at 1480 Campus Road must create a theme and roster and submit responses to several application questions.
Weiss, one of the students who spearheaded the Queer House application, pointed out the need for a physical location for the queer community on campus.
“A group of queer folks feel as if there’s not really a space for them, neither academically nor socially,” Weiss said. “Some queer students don’t really feel comfortable in that space or really feel like the QSA really gives them what they need.”
ResEd’s website states that the themed living communities offer students a wide variety of living arrangements that link them to their learning experiences. According to Associate Director of Residential Education Juls White, ResEd staff looks forward to seeing Queer House’s contributions to the Occidental community.
“The first year [of a new Themed Living Community] is always exciting and difficult,” White said via email. “Exciting because you are doing something new and difficult because it hasn’t been done before. You are paving the path to create this experience that will take a lot of hard work and patience on everyone’s part.”
Weiss said his goal for Queer House is to create an intersectional space where queer students can reflect critically on pertinent issues as well as develop and express their own individual identities.
“We’re going to explore a lot of topics. We’re going to look at gender identity and how that affects queer expression,” Weiss said. “We’re going to bring in other intersectional elements, so we’re going to look at how people with different racial identities experience queerness.”
Future Queer House resident Nina Reynoso (junior) hopes that Queer House will eventually become a permanent option for housing at Occidental.
“Prospective and current students will hopefully hear or see about Queer House and know its purpose or at least that it exists—visibility is very important,” Reynoso said via email.
The Center for Community Based Learning, the Office of Community Engagement and ResEd collaborated in creating the Social Justice Institute (SJI), which will center around community organizing and activism, White said.
Danielle Raskin (sophomore) plans to live in SJI next year. She said some of its more specific components will be a short on-campus activist training session at the beginning of August before the fall semester, a fall internship with a community organization and a social justice project in the spring semester.
Raskin also said that one of the goals of the SJI program is to help reinvigorate the social justice community in Pauley, which she said has been lacking in the last few years.
“I lived there last year and it was a great experience for me, but what I’ve heard from upperclassmen is that it’s been getting more white since they place first-years based on CSP,” Raskin said. “So a lot of people who want to live there don’t get to live there, and a lot of people who don’t care get placed there because of their CSP.”
The college is also introducing a Global Diversity Floor in Newcomb Hall next year, which will focus on global studies and international issues. The project is a joint effort of ResEd and International Programs Office (IPO).
“The Global Diversity Floor was created as an option for students to come together around a shared idea and love for the international world,” White said via email.
IPO Executive Director Robin Craggs said that ResEd collected feedback from international students and exchange students while planning the floor.
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