There's no shortage of seriousness on a college campus when it's finals week.
UA Students Create a Space They Can Call Their Own
LGBTQ has teamed up with other organizations helping to create a residence hall space known as Pride Community that is expected to open next fall.
Kaleb Stephens has shared living space with people who seemed to disrespect people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender or queer.
So Stephens, who identifies as queer, took the time to apply – and was later accepted – to live in the new University of Arizona residence hall wing geared toward students who identify as LGBTQ, or those who identify as allies of the community.
"The hall is an attempt to create a living environment where people of various identities will be respected and celebrated. It will allow students to feel like they can be completely out and open about themselves," said Stephens, a UA pre-physiology major who volunteered to gauge student interest for the wing.
The wing, temporarily called Pride Community, will be introduced during the fall semester and will be located in Kaibab-Huachuca Hall.
Interested students are required to fill out an application that can be found on the Pride Community website. Also, once the wing opens, students will have an opportunity to name it.
The wing is part of the UA's effort to create more inclusive environments for different groups of students.
"Pride Community was created because where you live is such an important aspect in your life," said Jennifer Hoefle, who directs the Office of LGBTQ Affairs.
"Students want to be reassured and be in a place where they can feel safe," Hoefle said. The wing also will include gender-neutral restrooms.
"From having weekly support groups to teaming up with other organizations such as SPRITE and Wingspan, students are looking for a place where they can feel comfortable," she also said. "Statistics have stated that students living on campus perform better then those living off."
The wing joins other themed halls and living-learning communities at the UA. The University currently has wings or residence halls for students in the Honors College, students in the military, American Indian students and also pre-business and pre-health majors.
Christina Bischoff, who is studying ecology and evolutionary biology and also theatre arts, said that creating a designated space will allow LGBTQ students to support one another.
"By having this built-in community, students will get the opportunity to get involved," said Bischoff, who identifies as queer.
Stephens said something similar, noting that it is important for students of similar backgrounds to have the opportunity to share their experiences.
Those who "are gender-variant will not have to worry about being rejected by their peers," said Stephens who, having been accepted to live in the wing, expects more group cohesion.
"I am excited about being able to feel like I can be completely out about my identity," Stephens said.
"Because of this closeness and acceptance of each other’s identities, this dorm will be one where we are more open about talking about what is going on in our lives and more comfortable with sharing our outside lives, such as bringing a significant other or friend of any gender to visit."