Over this upcoming winter break, a stackable washer and dryer unit will be installed in Queer House. Students had called for such amenities to be installed in the house in the past, but Residential Education and Housing Services Director Chad Myers’ request for a washer and dryer last year was denied due to the lack of water and electrical setups necessary for traditional units, according to Chief Diversity Officer Rhonda Brown.
Last month, a team from Facilities reassessed the house for a stackable washer and dryer unit and found that it could fit in the current configuration without further renovation or additions to the property.
The installation comes after Brown made a public promise to concerned students, who expressed frustration about having to live without laundry facilities in Queer House, during a post-election community support meeting in the academic quad Nov. 9. The original aim of the meeting was to provide a safe space for the Occidental community to discuss the implications of Donald Trump’s election, but the gathering instead became an outlet for dissatisfied students to voice grievances against the college’s administration.
When Brown promised a washer and dryer at the quad meeting, she was unaware that the house lacked setups necessary to install a traditional unit, and was later notified of that fact by Facilities. Brown was under the impression that only a simple purchase was necessary but still sought to honor her promise and reach out to concerned students about next steps. She found it odd that following the quad meeting, no students approached her about what to do next, and she had to seek them out herself.
Queer House, located at 1480 Campus Road, was established in 2015. It had previously been Pet House, established 2012, where students shared responsibility for taking care of pets. In response to students’ requests for a queer safe space on campus, the house was repurposed as Queer House.
According to Myers, students opted to accept Queer House as it was, without a washer, dryer or full kitchen, because there were no other houses available. Prior to the construction of the Samuelson Alumni Center, which now houses campus visitors, the house was used as a guest house, not a residential building. Queer House is currently home to 10 students across a range of years. Although the house lacks laundry facilities and printers, the residents have access to the laundry room and printers in Bell-Young Hall.
Resident Valentina Dabos (junior) explained that, in addition to lacking laundry facilities, the house also lacks a stove in the kitchen and a working printer. Dabos wishes to move out of the house next semester as the lack of necessities coupled with her uncomfortably small room make the space unlivable.
“It’s not a place that people want to be in. There’s nothing attractive about [Queer House], making it counterproductive to the safe space it provides,” Dabos said.
Queer House Resident Advisor Peter Kukla (junior) also noted that the house cannot reach its full potential as a safe space if it lacks basic amenities.