New Rainbow Floor In Scott Hall Gives Safe Haven for LGBTQIA+ Students

By Joshua Beckett, Contributing Writer

The third floor of Scott South Hall was transformed this past fall by adding a new Rainbow Alliance Floor which houses about 40 students. This floor provides a safe space for members of the LGBTQIA+ community to grow together.

People can be randomly assigned to live on the Rainbow Floor, but in order to live there, a Rainbow Alliance agreement must be signed. By signing the agreement, students give consent to support their neighbors to create a community that appreciates the variety and vivacity of gender and sexuality.  

“I found out about the Rainbow Floor during my campus tour,” said Lily Hood, a resident of the Rainbow Floor. “Admissions gave me a book about campus and in the housing section, the Rainbow Floor was an option.”

“I honestly thought there would be rainbows everywhere,” said Hood, “but to my surprise when arriving, I found that it looked like any other floor.” Hood continued, “I actually didn’t select the Rainbow Floor when signing up for room placement for fear of my family finding out,” said Hood, “however I did want to be on the floor because I felt like it would be a safe and accepting place for me to live and explore my identity.”

Community Assistant Matthew Wyman found out about the Rainbow Floor because there had been a long push for LGBTQ-specific housing. “Being a CA on this floor has been a dream come true,” said Wyman, “I wanted to work on this floor since the second I decided to apply as a CA and I genuinely can’t see myself anywhere else. “Since coming to college, I’ve effectively immersed myself in the LGBTQ+ community because that is where my passion lies. I love my community and its members, so it only felt natural for me to go for the rainbow floor.”

Wyman says he would be devastated, not just for himself but for his residents if the floor was ever cut from housing. “I have the rare privilege of having a family that accepts who I am without hesitation,” said Wyman, “but there are some who can only be who they are in their hearts when they’re home on the floor. This floor and the community it represents is a safe haven for those people to be themselves without fear of judgment or rejection,” said Wyman, “and to lose the floor would be to lose that security, I think.”

Kelsey Champagne-Smith, Assistant Director of Housing and Academic Success, has been very involved with helping to create the Rainbow Alliance floor. “Since we began doing surveys last year, we have received a number of ideas from the students,” said Champagne-Smith. “If we find that there is a common interest in a particular theme, we try to work towards gauging student interest throughout the different residence halls.”

The Rainbow Floor will be an option for housing for the Fall 2017-2018 year as well as a few other new housing themes. The complete list of housing themes for next year can be found on the UMF website. There will also be an upcoming Housing Selection Night on April 6 in the North Dining Hall where students can select where they would like to live in the upcoming year.

Wyman is hoping to stay a CA on this floor in the coming year, but if that’s not possible, he would like to be a CA in an area very close to this floor because the community means the world to him. “We have something truly special here, and the residents are the cherry on top.”

Book Reading To Be Held by UMF Dining Hall Employee Eloise Wallace

By Joshua Beckett, Contributing Writer 

Purington Hall will be welcoming UMF Dining Hall worker Eloise Wallace to the building for a reading of “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.” This program, which is being held on February 16 at 6 p.m.  by Community Assistant Ana Drew, will also include freshly baked cookies.

“It will be a different audience,” said Wallace, “but I’m looking forward to it.” Wallace is a retired teacher of 37 years who spent most of her time in Western Maine. She taught at Mallett School, Sweatt-Winter, Wilton Academy, and Gorham Head Start.” I knew nothing about her background, said Ana Drew who is hosting the event, “I asked around and others knew more about her.”  

Eloise graduated 50 years ago from what was at the time called Farmington State College. Almost everyone in her family has graduated from UMF and she hopes that the tradition continues. Wallace worked in the dining hall that used to be located in Mallett Hall before she came to college. “I’m working on my 14th year in this dining hall,” said Wallace, “and I still like it.”

Wallace has been preparing for this program by reciting the book during her shift. “She knows the book by heart,” said Drew.

As a first semester CA, this will be the second program that Drew’s put on for the residents in her building. “I was just trying to think of programs that would get a lot of people to go,” said Drew, “and everyone loves Eloise.”

CAs and people in other buildings have already been gearing up for the event and have spread the word. Michaela Zelie, a CA in Mallett Hall, said she has already been telling everyone in her building about the event. They’re all so excited, said Zelie, “ it’s a fresh idea and who doesn’t love free chocolate chip cookies.” CAs in other buildings have also thought about the idea of stealing Wallace for a program.

“I’m hoping that this will get residents in Purington to come to my programs,” said Drew, “ so that more people can give me ideas on what to do next.” Drew still has at least three programs to organize for the semester and has thought about inviting Wallace over for more events. Drew also suggested the idea of maybe a new interactive Clue game.

Drew is hoping that twice as many people will attend this program compared to her previous one. “I want this to be the program that people talk about,” said Drew. Drew is planning on advertising for this program all across campus in all the residence halls, Mantor Library, and the Olsen Student Center.  

Drew is hoping to plan an event with Wallace in a public venue such as the Landing so that members of the community can also attend. “She’s such a cutie pie,” said Drew.