Letter to the Editor: How Harmful is Segregated Housing to Campus Diversity?

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On September 7, 2016, an article appeared in The DePauw hailing the creation of Rainbow Floor, a residential floor for members and allies of the LGBT community.

While the article covered the benefits of Rainbow Floor, it failed to acknowledge the harm of such housing. May a campus be deemed diversified when the administration actively creates segregated housing? Does it hinder the ability of LGBT students to confront challenges they will face outside of the DePauw bubble? Is it healthy to allow students the option of not integrating with students dissimilar to themselves in a residential setting? Does it foster an us-them dynamic?

The easiest way to justify segregated housing is to exaggerate any incident to create beneficial talking points. Students and faculty are guilty of making dramatic, reckless statements on campus discrimination, such as “the students are afraid for their lives,” “There’s transgender people who get killed for walking into the wrong bathroom,” and “asked for the location of the Rainbow Floor not to be published for the privacy and safety of its residents.”

To be clear: I am not trivializing property damage or verbal assault in the least; these are serious offenses and require attention. However, I am asking that deeper analysis is given to such comments that suggest DePauw students are capable of murder, or that a floor’s location cannot be disclosed because of such security concerns (located on a campus of only 2,400 students and accessible to others who reside in the building).

Similarly, the easiest way to dismiss any opinions that challenge the housing decision is to throw phrases out like “heterosexual privilege,” and “safe space.” While these phrases may effectively chill the articulation of any opposition, it does not enable debate on the substance of the topic.  DePauw is better than that and its students should thoughtfully engage in rational debates with opinions that differ from their own.

I encourage the student body to rigorously debate this challenging topic before segregated housing divides a campus into pockets of students, undermining our efforts at diversity and integration.