Newman’s story of discrimination in residence is the type that drove Mars Ramlogan, a residence fellow on ninth floor Glengarry house, to propose an LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender, Queer)-themed residence floor to their residence manager in early 2017.
Ramlogan is a non-binary social work student, living and working on the leadership themed floor in Carleton residence. The leadership floor is one of five themed communities, which aim to bring together students with similar interests to form a tight-knit and supportive community.
“They can do activities that are connected to the theme, they know that somebody that’s living next to them probably has a common interest, so that increases that sense of community,” said Natalie Allan, assistant director of Residence Life Services at Carleton.
Ramlogan first came up with the idea of the LGBTQ identity themed floor after a series of instances of LGBTQ students coming to them and looking for support with gender and sexuality based discrimination, or at worst, instances of sexual assault.
At the moment, the Gender and Sexuality Resource Centre is the only place on campus that is a designated safe space for LGBTQ students. The small room is tucked away in the back of the fourth floor of University Centre and often goes unnoticed by incoming students.
“It’s not overnight, it’s not on weekends, it’s not in the summers, and like I said, my hours are being cut,” said Newman.
Carleton residence boasts a policy of inclusion and diversity, and has their residence fellows go through gender and sexuality related training, says Allan. But many in the LGBTQ community insist this isn’t enough to protect students, say Ramlogan and Newman.
“If you get people who are trans and male identified and you get roomed with a man that doesn’t understand it, or a woman, as a trans woman — Jesus. Trans women are an even higher risk of violence. And res currently has no way to accommodate that,” said Newman.
“I definitely feel like residence blankets the terms diversity, and inclusion, and safety,” said Ramlogan. “Because that’s something that they’ve consistently pushed on to students and on to workers as something they really prioritize, but in practice it hasn’t been that way at all.”