Lavender Living, an LGBTQ+ living-learning community, will be offered next year for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
The mission of the program is to foster wellness, to encourage openness and to support LGBTQ+ community-building initiatives both on and off campus, according to its Instagram.
The program’s founders, sophomores Maria Zambrano Davila, Sanjna Kaul, Georgia Leakey, Elena Durazo and junior Pamira Yanar, created Lavender Living for a group project in their WILL* colloquium class with the prompt of finding a problem on campus and creating a solution. WILL* is a program that allows students to explore gender and social justice issues.
“I don't think we came into it with a ‘this is a class project’ lens, but like this is something we want to happen on campus,” Kaul said.
Students who participate in Lavender Living will live in Lakeview Hall and can expect monthly movie nights, communal meals, workshops and a trip to New York City in the fall.
Casey Butler, associate director of LGBTQ+ life, said that students who would benefit from this program are those who are looking to be part of a community where they are interacting with their peers regularly.
“It's more of a social living environment, so if you want that and you are an LGBTQ+ person or ally, we welcome you,” they said.
The application is already open and both LGBTQ+ folks and allies can apply. The community will have a cap of around 20 students.
This is not the first LGBTQ+ living-learning community at the University of Richmond. There was one created in 2012 that ended around 2017. The group was inspired by that community, so they worked to revive it, but with their own twists, Leakey said.
Sophomore Sydney Tellis was in the same WILL* colloquium class that the idea was pitched in.
“I got to see their presentation on it — and all of the information they went through to figure it out — and I think it's a really good idea,” she said. “I think the work they've done especially in collaboration with the university is really amazing.”
The founders hope that the community is able to make real change on and off campus.
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“This is not just a social space,” Kaul said. “It’s a space that hopefully ends up forming a space for queer organizing.”
Kaul and Leakey also said that intersectionality was a focus when creating the group.
“We were very aware that we wanted to make sure that it wasn’t a white, able-bodied centric space because that’s what spaces end up being in the queer community,” Kaul said.
Sophomore Doro is thinking of applying and is excited about the community living aspect. He loves how the program makes living easier for trans and nonbinary people, he said.
Last year Doro decided to wear a dress for Halloween and said he felt uncomfortable when he walked by men in his dorm building. It was just a costume for him but for others, it's their life, he said. He hopes that this community can help people feel more comfortable walking around campus in whatever way they present themselves.
Contact news writer Andrea Padilla at email@example.com.
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