The Office of Residential Services and Living Learning Communities will start a new program this fall designed by a group of students to help strengthen the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender student body as well as educate others on campus, a university official said.
David Cooper, associate director of Residence Life, said the new DiversCity Q community will be implemented as part of LLCs’ initiative to get students to create their own program. Cooper said DiversCity Q was selected out of several other student-generated ideas because Residential Services liked the idea of a LGBT support group and because the group’s proposal was well developed.
“After we reviewed the application, we had a one-on-one meeting with the group,” Cooper said. “We wanted to see their plans and if they were really committed, and they passed with flying colors.”
Shelly Newkirk, a sophomore social work major, said she decided to apply for the program after her friend, junior social work major Su Harz, told her about a LLC e-mail calling for program proposals. Newkirk, who is also the vice president of TCU’s Gay-Straight Alliance, said she saw it as a chance to offer students a place to live where they can build relationships and learn more about the LGBT community.
Cooper said DiversCity Q members will be housed in the Tom Brown-Pete Wright apartments, but participants will still be required to meet the university criteria of 54 credit hours in order to live there.
Newkirk said because of the credit requirement, DiversCity Q won’t have as many members as originally expected.
“Our number is at eight right now,” Newkirk said. “We were at 16 but a lot of them will only be sophomores, so we lost them.”
LLCs usually house groups of 25 to 40 members, but Newkirk said Residential Services was flexible with the new program. She said the extra space was opened up to students outside the community but there is room for the group to grow in the future.
“I think it will become bigger once people learn about it and want to get involved,” Newkirk said.
Cooper said DiversCity Q will be a great addition to the LLCs program because it is yet another community where students with similar interests to live together. Other LLCs like Green House, Health and Wellness, and Strengths and Leadership group students together who are focused on preserving the environment, staying healthy or helping the community, Cooper said.
“It’s a more enriching experience to look forward to,” Cooper said. “For students who aren’t athletes, for students who aren’t in Greek, this is an avenue for them to make a connection.”
Cooper said like all LLCs, DiversCity Q members will plan and coordinate events throughout the school year intended to inform others about their particular theme.
The LLC program began in the 2008-2009 academic year, with themed living communities occupying wings in Samuelson and Carter halls. The living communities are expanding to the Tom Brown-Pete Wright apartments next academic year.
Harz said DiversCity Q, along with the Gay-Straight Alliance, has plans to host activities that will address LGBT programming concerns in an attempt to increase awareness on campus.
Harz said many students live in their own world and a program like DiversCity Q will educate them about issues outside their comfort zone.
“TCU is very traditional,” Harz said. “We’re trying to expose students to the different types of diversities that are out there,”
Harz said she is excited for DiversCity Q because it will give LGBT students a voice and an arena to spread their message.
“For the LGBT community and its allies, it shows them that they actually have support on campus and a safe place to live,” Harz said.