Lack of student interest leads to fewer housing options for LGBTQIA+ students

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    The Rainbow House, United DePauw House, and First-Year Rainbow Floor are not available this year due to a lack of student interest. Despite these changes, there will be more services and opportunities offered to students in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) community.

    LGBTQIA+ is the official term used by DePauw University’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion in reference to university services and student run organizations that involve gender and sexuality.

    The Rainbow House and United DePauw houses were previously used as residences for LGBTQIA+ students. Many of the previous residents graduated and the other residents had greater interest in living with other members of the DePauw community.

    There is no longer a United DePauw house because of a lack of interest in living in the house among members. “Really it just came down to a lot of the people who were living in the house were seniors and they had friends that they wanted to live with and hadn’t [lived] with yet,” Laurel Tilton, president of United DePauw, said. “It wasn’t anything besides interest.”

    Although United DePauw will not have a house this year, the group is looking to have a house sometime in the future, but with a different setup, Tilton said.

    Last year, only executive team members resided in the United DePauw house; however, the group is planning to change this. “We’re thinking we’re going to make an exec position that their position is they oversee this house and it’s going to be open to underclassmen, so it’s going to be more of a community-based space, but that’s what we’re currently discussing,” Tilton said.

    The Rainbow floor was located in Bishop Roberts and was offered to first-year students for the first time last year, but will be discontinued this year due to lack of interest. “From conversing with some students I think they were just looking to live in spaces and engage with other communities,” Matthew Abtahi, assistant director for the center of diversity and inclusion, said. “I think Rainbow floor did an impactful job of connecting folks with each other and so they carry that community with them hopefully throughout their time at DePauw.”

    The Rainbow floor is only offered to first-year students, assuming upperclassmen will reside in one of the Greek affiliated chapters or in on campus housing such as duplexes or in Rector Village. Abtahi said this year’s incoming first-year class did not express enough interest in the Rainbow floor.

    Although there will not be a Rainbow floor this year, DePauw will still be offering this option to new incoming classes. The Rainbow Floor will be offered next year and implemented if there is enough student interest, said JC Lopez, director of campus living and community development.

    Despite the absence of the Rainbow House, United DePauw House and Rainbow floor, DePauw will be providing resources to LGBTQIA+ students, such as Queers and Crafting, which takes place every Wednesday from 2-5 p.m. in Reese Hall, staff and faculty training, coursework and a student led LGBTQIA+ Campus Advisory Board.

    Along with these services, DePauw has also started a new name and gender change process, which gives transgender students who are going through transition during their time at DePauw the ability to change their name and gender within the DePauw community.

    In order to do this, students who are transitioning can meet with the Assistant Director of the Center of Diversity and Inclusion, the Director of Multicultural Student Services, Director of the Women’s Center and/or the Director of Community Standards, according to a handout from the Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

    The Queer Students of Color (QSOC) student group will have a house this year for the first time; however, they declined to comment about the house to The DePauw.