As society finally becomes more accepting and mindful of those who identify as LGBTQ+, Rowan is doing a fantastic job of making our campus open and welcoming to students of all different identities. Recent building plans and additions as well as more student organizations all contribute to the network of support that students can expect to be part of, regardless of their role in the LGBTQ+ community. The Prof population is expanding its knowledge and awareness of gender and sexuality as not only an accommodation to the lifestyles of its students, but as a right that they are entitled to. The efforts of Rowan University to make each and every student feel safe and accepted regardless of identity have gone — and will continue to go — a long way, as more progressive views take the spotlight among college campuses especially.
Living conditions specifically have become more accommodating to students of the LGBTQ+ community, as gender inclusive housing is more easily available. Beginning last year, Rowan lifted outdated living restrictions in a (successful) attempt to allow students full discretion when choosing who they live with, regardless of gender and sex. This school year’s addition of another underclassman residence hall, known as Holly Pointe Commons, created even more living space for students and another opportunity to promote a better understanding of the LGBTQ+ population. Its gender neutral bathrooms allow more comfort to students of all identities by removing the labels that once confined those who exhibit gender fluidity. Any student can use these bathrooms, regardless of gender, sex or identity.
In addition to its removal of cisgender labels on bathrooms, Holly Pointe also introduced a new housing option for LGBTQ+ students that allows them to live in a community of students with similar experiences as them. Affectionately nicknamed “Gay Pod” by its residents, part of the A Pod section of Holly Pointe is primarily dedicated to welcoming students of various genders, identities and sexualities to thrive together. This inclusive and welcoming community provides even greater opportunities for close friendships, forming an instant bond among its residents. Resident Mac Callan refers to as a “good system of helping queer kids meet other queer kids,” because “we already know we have something so important in our lives in common.” Members of this community especially support each other, helping others to feel safe and welcome and, sometimes even giving their friends the encouragement they need to come out.
Living in Holly Pointe Commons provides LGBTQ+ students with a constant support system, as they are literally right next door to friends that can relate to them and give them advice when needed: freshman Avery Vogel recalls that “In high school all I wished for was a gay friend, but now I have tons of them” after making the choice to live in the LGBTQ+ community at HPC. Her friend, student Eric Posey agreed enthusiastically that the community was an efficient way of meeting new people with similar experiences, adding of his newfound friendships formed in A pod: “we found each other.”
Besides through living arrangements, Rowan is increasingly extending its resources for the LGBTQ+ community. Student organizations such as PRISM and True Colors, organized and hosted by the Office of Social Justice, Inclusion and Conflict Resolution, provide comfortable environments for students to mingle and voice their opinions, while ensuring the happiness and security of all members. SJICR is an on-campus department that gives students the strength and resources to stand up for their beliefs and become involved in the current important issues present in society. It also works to make our campus a safer, more representative and welcoming atmosphere for all students. Callan, who was the president of his high school’s Queer and Ally club, agrees that PRISM especially was a welcoming environment regardless of identity, as it was set in a more casual environment. The students did not talk much about their experiences, playing board games and just chatting instead, but sometimes that’s preferable: Callan sees it as the ideal place to “just [hang] out with other people like us.”
Both students and faculty are increasingly aware of the array of genders present in modern society, and orientation programs now specifically acknowledge pronoun preferences during introductions, a small gesture with a huge impact on students. Student Divine Coleman took note of this gesture, appreciating the fact that “somebody is actually thoughtful enough” to acknowledge that pronouns are not always cisgender. “It’s the little things” that make transitioning to Rowan “a lot better” than other, less progressive schools, according to Vogel and Callan. They were immediately impressed by the comfortable atmosphere the university provided before they even committed to the university! Vogel adds, “I immediately knew that I was in the right place” upon choosing to attend Rowan.
As the old cliche states, home is where the heart is, and there is plenty of acceptance in the hearts of Rowan students and faculty alike.
By: Nicole Cier, East Brunswick (Middlesex County)
Writing Arts major