A recently created living community on campus is giving new context to the acronym “ROYGBIV.”
Ithaca College’s first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender living community, the House of Roy, is currently undergoing the approval process to be established on the first floor of Eastman Hall for next fall. The community is named after ROYGBIV — the colors of the rainbow, a symbol for the LGBT community.
Junior Catherine Kirchhoff, who came up with the idea for the housing option, has been working with other students, faculty and the Office of Residential Life to create the living community for the past year and a half. Applications for the housing community were collected last Monday.
Kirchhoff said she now needs to get the budget for programming and housing approved.
As of Monday, the community accepted eight upperclassmen into the floor, meeting the six-resident minimum it needed to get approved. There is space for 16 total, and the option will be open for incoming freshmen to apply. All students, regardless of their sexual orientation, have the opportunity to live in the community if they have an interest in learning more about the LGBT community.
After looking at all the housing options at the college, Kirchhoff said she realized the campus did not have any LGBT-oriented options.
“Our campus is generally pretty liberal and accepting to new things,” Kirchhoff said. “We have a lot of options that other campuses don’t have. The next step we need to have would be LGBT housing.”
Freshman Martin Garay MacLean signed up to live in the House of Roy next fall and said he thinks the community is a great idea for the college.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn,” he said. “It doesn’t even matter if you share the same sexual preferences or not. You still have the opportunity to learn a lot.”
Last year, the college worked to create a Gender Neutral Housing Option, where students had the opportunity to live with someone regardless of sexuality or gender. While there was support from students and faculty, Lis Maurer, director of LGBT education, outreach and services at the college, said not enough students applied to make it official.
Maurer said the House of Roy is an entirely different idea from gender-neutral housing.
“[Gender-neutral housing] wasn’t a living-learning community — it was designed to provide a space for people who wanted to live in a mixed-sex environment,” she said. “It sounds similar, but it’s completely different.”
In the House of Roy, students won’t be able to live in gender-mixed rooms.
Maurer said she hopes the House of Roy will provide an opportunity for students to connect with the larger Ithaca LGBT and allied community through social events, service opportunities and guest speakers.
Kirchhoff said she has already planned some of the activities for the residents next year, including LGBT “Jeopardy!,” film screenings, field trips and volunteer requirements at the LGBT center on campus.
“It’s about getting a real well-rounded scope while living there,” she said.
Applicants for the new community’s resident assistant had to submit a brief essay detailing why he or she wanted to be the leader of this particular community and their interest with LGBT issues. Like RAs in all living communities, the RA in the House of Roy will be responsible for planning and coordinating events and programs, Kirchhoff said.
Maurer said she thinks the House of Roy will be popular among incoming freshmen who are unsure of their living situation at college, especially having to live with someone new for the first time.
“That is the group of people year after year who express the most uncertainty of what it might be like to live with a roommate who they don’t know anything about,” she said. “If that can be established, it will be really wonderful for incoming students.”
While the House of Roy is looking like an official option as of now, Kirchhoff said, she will continue to pursue it in future years if anything goes wrong in the final stages, especially since she plans to stay in Ithaca for graduate school.
“I wouldn’t leave until it was established,” she said.
Kirchhoff said she hopes the House of Roy gains more popularity.
“I hope that people who live there get all they want and more out of it,” she said. “I hope it becomes more recognized on campus as a place to live and keeps going for years to come.”
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