A Change of Scenery
Jay Perez, 20, a Sixth College third year describes her experience living in LGBT campus versus her experience living in non-LGBT preference housing. She tells me that she had been here from her freshman year, offering me, a transfer student, insight as to how her experience has been since the beginning of her college career.
I had never lived in non-LGBT preference housing so I wouldn’t know the first thing about how it would feel to move into a completely new environment and having to come out to my roommates and possibly have my girlfriend come over. I wanted to know what she thought of her housing life in the beginning. “People that I used to live with, in my second year, they weren’t very nice or polite. I kind of just dealt with it by not being in the apartment as much and I did that a lot my first year too, so I just took myself out of the equation.” I only have a vague feeling of what this is like with my own experiences with roommates and not being able to come home and relax can really take a toll on a person.
Perez had dealt with some roommate conflicts and was not keen on doing it again and she opted into the LGBT preference housing in Sixth College. “In the past, I had really bad experiences in regards to dealing with other people that I didn’t know. I also wanted to expand my circle, just connect with other people.”.
Now that she lives in LGBT friendly housing, Perez told me that she felt better in that kind of living situation. “There’s not awkwardness in regards with my girlfriends coming over and hanging out with me. They are pretty open minded in regards to just everything.”
Comparing Sixth college’s programs with the programs offered here in the Village was quite surprising to find out. I know that there is a lot of advertisement in the Village toward the LGBT community, in fact many of the staff are LGBT identified which is a huge influence on what goes on in the neighborhood. I had asked Jay what she thought of the staff and programs offered in her college, and she told me that there were actually none offered to the LGBT community in Sixth college. “RA’s aren’t really in tune to any of that…but the campus as a whole, with the LGBT RC and having that it definitely helps the whole university…”. She had known about a few events that were quite large, such as the non-sexist dance and the Gay Day in May. The way that LGBT preference residents know about a Gay Day in May is through e-mail. I had listed off a few other events and she didn’t really know what I was talking about which I think could have possibly hindered her experience here at UCSD as a whole.
The non-sexist dance is one of the largest events here on campus and it is thrown by the LGBT RC and their student organizations. Perez spoke about how this particular event was supposed to be not only a fun dance that students could attend but also could have a safe place to be regardless of their sexual orientation. Perez says, “It’s aimed for that, but regardless, people that are very homophobic show up and they start stuff. Regardless of the situation you’re always gonna find some conflict.”
My interview with Perez made me open my eyes to another side of this campus, literally the other side, and some problems that are present there but not present where I live. It is clear that even LGBT preference housing is not always as active as it should be. The Resident Advisers and Resident Deans campus wide should be able to provide resources for all of their residents, not just a majority. It is the job of the university to make this school not only a place of achievement but also a place that you can call home.