Moving into your college residence hall can be exciting and intimidating for many students. Students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or trans* (LGBT) may have specific questions or concerns about living in the residence halls. One important thing to know is that you are not alone. We are proud to say that IWU's goal is to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for LGBT students. Each year, residence hall staff are educated about the needs and concerns of LGBT students. We also have an active and vibrant LGBT community on campus with many activities and resources to support you.
The Office of Residential Life seeks to create a safer and more inclusive residential learning environment on campus by assisting students with requests to be matched with a roommate who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, or an ally (LGBTQA). An ally is defined as someone who identifies as straight and wants to be supportive of those who identify as LGBTQ.
Those interested in participating in the LGBTQ Roommate Matching Service must complete an LGBTQ-specific matching survey in addition to the IWU Housing Contract (which includes the roommate matching questionnaire).
Housing and roommate considerations for LGBTQs
Do you have a specific person you want as a roommate?
Remember, just because you and a potential roommate are both LGBTQ, that doesn’t mean you are necessarily compatible roommates. Be sure to consider other similarities and differences in living preferences. Also, if you are LGBT, consider your level of outness. You and a potential roommate may want do discuss this prior to moving in to make sure you are each comfortable with how out your roommate is or is not. If you are an LGBT Ally choosing an LGBT roommate, are you comfortable being out as an Ally? Are you comfortable if other people assume you are LGBT?
Should I come out to my roommate or others on my floor?
This is a decision only you can make. There can be both risks and benefits in coming out. If you have concerns about coming out, you might want to talk with a residence hall staff member, other students you trust, or staff in the Counseling and Consultation Service to get a sense of the climate for LGBT students on your floor and/or in your residence hall. It might also be helpful to spend some time thinking about the possible responses you might encounter, how you will handle them, and what sources of support you have available to help you with this process. The LGBT Student Life website provides a pamphlet “A Resource Guide to Coming Out” that might also be helpful.
Who can I talk to for support or assistance?
There are several options available for finding support.
- Your floor First Year Resident Advisor (FYRA) is there to help everyone feel welcome and included on your floor. If you are hesitant to talk to your FYRA, you can seek out other residence hall staff members to help you with any questions or concerns.
- IWU Pride Alliance is a registered student organization that meets weekly and where many LGBTQs at IWU find community and support.
- Another community support includes students, faculty and staff that are trained and supportive allies through the IWU Safe Zone program. Volunteers in the IWU Safe Zone program display a symbol on door signs or buttons to identify themselves as supporters of the LGBTQ population. Many Safe Zone allies choose to be listed on the IWU Outlist and Campus Allies page.
- The IWU Counseling and Consultation Service and the Office of the Chaplain both provide individual guidance and counseling supports.
- The Dean of Students Office is a great place to seek help with problems or obstacles or to report acts of intolerance.
- The LGBT Student Life website provides an incredible amount of information and direction for accessing LGBTQ support services at IWU.
I identify as transgender. Will I be able to live in the residence halls?
We know that transgender students may have specific needs, and we will be happy to work with you to find a living option that best meets your needs. We encourage you to contact us before you begin the room selection process so that we may answer your specific questions and best assist you. We recognize that the needs of transgender students may vary depending on their particular situation, so we will assist transgender students on a case by case basis.
What if I have a problem with my roommate or someone on my floor?
We encourage you to let your FYRA or Residence Director know about the situation as soon as possible. They can provide guidance and work with you to resolve the conflict. Depending on the problem, possible solutions could be as simple as a conversation or could involve programs and training to raise awareness among others in the residence halls.
What if I experience harassment in the residence halls?
We take any instances of harassment or discrimination seriously and respond accordingly. University policies prohibit offensive, discriminatory or harassing behavior based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. If you or anyone you know experiences any harassment or discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, we encourage you to report it. As with other LGBT-related residence hall problems, you can speak with your FYRA, another residence hall staff member, or staff in the Dean of Students Office.