By: Elle Keys, MSW’21
The Anti-Racism and Equity Coalition is comprised of members from all departments across campus. The diversity of our members is meant to help us gain unique perspectives on university matters. Our goal is to ensure that the Coalition’s mission permeates throughout the Barry community. To satisfy this aim, we created the Voices of the Coalition, where Coalition members have a chance to write about their perspectives.
In this segment, we highlight the voice of member Elle Keys, MSW student and Graduate Research Assistant, who discusses inclusivity and housing assignments.
Statistically, two in three LGBTQ+ college students experience sexual harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQ+ college students who are looking for a place where they belong, a place to feel safe and supported to grow into the humans they are meant to be.
As an out of state person looking to pursue graduate studies in Social Work, I knew that in addition to everything I wanted out of my academic program I needed a place I could call home. While Barry has been a place where I feel safe and supported, in my time as a graduate assistant for the Anti-Racism and Equity Coalition I have learned of practices on campus, specifically regarding residential housing, that do not set all students up to comfortably call Barry University home.
Current housing assignments at Barry only exist along the gender binary. Students are assigned roommates based on the sex identified on their original application to the University. For those who identify outside of the binary, or the sex identified in the records, the only housing options for them are to live in their assigned room or self-disclose their identity to housing staff and be isolated in a single room. These options are satisfactory for some individuals, but these limited options truly limit and can even harm others.
For some students, isolating means feeling cut off from others and singled out as not belonging. For others, the limited options mean living in an environment in which they have to hide their true selves from their roommates to avoid judgement or harassment. No student should have to spend energy that should be dedicated to living out their full potential in college on suppressing their true self.
In order to create a community in which all Barry students can feel at home, a residential housing system with inclusive options allowing all Barry students a choice of living environment would speak to Barry’s commitment to social justice and inclusivity. These are some of the reasons I chose to further my education at Barry University. I believe in this institution's power to change lives, and I want every student to have a living environment in which they feel supported and affirmed so they can realize their full potential here. As the institution continues to have conversations about inclusion and equity in housing and across campus, I hope students, staff, and faculty can help create a Barry community all of us would be proud to call home.