The University’s Student Government Diversity Committee hosted an event on Nov. 5 in Arches Lounge to discuss the Summit House (also known as Fran’s House), an affinity house on campus which provides University students with a safe living space for LGBTQ+ individuals and allies. The discussion was followed by the film “Pride.” The event focused on the issue involving the current plans to demolish the Summit House in order to expand the Freeman College of Management, a central issue in the University’s strategic planning. The event was led by BSG Senator for Diversity and chair of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance Jacob Adeniran ’19 and Diversity Committee Chair Avani Chopra ’20.
Chopra began the event by stating the importance of a residential space like Fran’s House. It is a housing option that caters to “a certain community, but there is no reason why they should stand alone.” Chopra asserted that the demolition of such a space on campus could lead to threats against other marginalized groups.
“It is not unusual for a university to take down a building to expand and grow,” Adeniran said. However, Adeniran noted that conflict can arise when administrations do not offer sufficient housing to replace the demolished building.
Adeniran stressed the importance of a communal space in a future building on campus that will house LGBTQ+ individuals and allies. “It is important for us to gather, come together, and see one another,” Adeniran said. Options like a floor of a South Campus Apartment building does not offer the same opportunities as a house with shared spaces, which allow for residents to congregate. According to Adeniran, this pushes the LGBTQ+ community farther away from campus, and farther away from each other due to a lack of shared, communal spaces.
Three strategic planning open houses have been held to facilitate conversation between administration and students. These events offered opportunities for students to learn and ask questions about the plans for future campus development. There are no students on the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, so these events were seen as important in involving students in the conversation about the future of the University.
“Pride,” the film shown after the discussion, was selected to show the ability of two sides coming together to fight policy. Class of 2022 Vice President Otis Skitch ’22 summarized the plot of the film by saying, “Inspired by a true story, ‘Pride’ is the coming together of two marginalized groups after realizing that they share a common cause. London-based gay and lesbian activists work together to help support the striking mining communities of South Wales in their fight against the policies of Margaret Thatcher regarding pit closures. The mining unions then end up using their political power to support LGBT rights within U.K. law.”
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