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.”