LGBTQ+ Student Outreach and Support has reached out to LGBTQ+ students to offer support since the University has required students to move out of residence halls. Boston College students have been given until Sunday to move out of their dorms due to the coronavirus outbreak, but some members of the LGBTQ+ community at BC have said that returning to their homes is not an option. Students may apply for exemptions from the mandatory move-out, which will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
“We will prioritize those concerns and act as advocates on your behalf,” Angelique Bradford, graduate assistant for LGBTQ+ Student Outreach and Support, said in an email to LGBTQ+ students. “There are many resources on and off BC that are available to you and let us act as your connection to that support as you go through this transition. Do not be afraid to reach out with concerns big or small because, again, your safety and support is our priority.”
Caroline Davis, director of Student Outreach and Support, wrote in an email to The Heights that an email thread posted in part on Twitter saying the University would not automatically approve housing for LGBTQ+ students was spreading misinformation. The University has continually said exemptions will be decided on a case-by-case-basis.
“[T]hat series of texts and the subsequent fear/reactions that this misinterpretation has caused have been incredibly damaging and frankly a huge waste of time,” Davis said. “Members of our community are already afraid and staff are trying to help support students through this difficult situation and this misdirection has burdened queer students unnecessarily and taken my team and my’s time away from work we should have been doing today to support students.”
“My staff and I have outreached to students who we know directly, are open if students want to stop by for support, are working to forge a plan to support students/create welcoming communities online, and I directly serve on the team that is reviewing requests for students to stay on campus,” Davis continued. “I can assure you that we are taking all requests from LGBTQ+ students who have nowhere to return to seriously, and will be responding with care and support.”
One student, who identifies as a queer transgender person and spoke to The Heights on the condition of anonymity, said they come from a transphobic home environment. When they initially heard of the closure, they said, they had several panic attacks.
“I’m very lucky to have friends who have given me a place to stay,” they said. “But not everybody has that. And it shouldn’t be a burden on my friends to support me.”
“University leaders entered into their decision to complete the semester through remote learning based of the State of Emergency declared in Massachusetts, and the threat of the coronavirus being spread on a dense college campus,” said Associate Vice President for University Communications Jack Dunn, in an email to The Heights.
“We are cognizant of the impact the disruption on all students, particularly marginalized students, but the decision was made out of a desire to safeguard the health and wellbeing of all members of the BC community. We instituted an exemption for students whose personal circumstances warrant their remaining on campus.
“Students not welcomed at home, including any LGBTQ student rejected by their family, are welcome to apply for the exemption. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis by Residential Life and Student Affairs.”
Zack, MCAS ’21, who identifies as gay and only gave his first name for personal reasons, said that the resources the University has provided for LGBTQ+ students during this transition are virtually nonexistent.
“Zero,” he said when asked about resources being provided to LGBTQ+ students. “I really haven’t heard of anything. I mean everything is officially a s—t show right now.”
JP Snider, CSON ’21, who identifies as non-binary, said they usually stay with their grandparents because of their strained relationship with their parents. But with the potential to spread the virus, they said, moving in with their immunocompromised grandparents isn’t feasible.
The anonymous student applied for extended on-campus housing but said that if BC does not allow them to stay on campus, they will have to look elsewhere. They said that they cannot afford rent in Boston and are relying on crowdfunding in anticipation of BC rejecting their request for a housing exemption.
“I don’t really get to feel at home, even in my body,” they said. “And this really isn’t helping anybody’s mental health.”
Zack also said that going home early for some LGBTQ+ students can add additional stress.
“I know some people in general don’t like going home for the summer,” he said. “To force them to go back to like super conservative areas … This is just extending that period of time.”
“The resources that have been provided have been slim to none, which is typical for the LGBTQ+ resources on BC’s campus,” Snider added.
Featured Image by Maggie DiPatri / Heights Editor