The Student Assembly (SA) of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College passed a resolution calling on BC to create an LGBTQ+ Living and Learning Community (LLC) on Tuesday.
The resolution, which passed unanimously, calls on the BC administration to establish an LLC, a housing arrangement dedicated for students with similar interests, for LGBTQ+ students, recognizing the Jesuit value of cura personalis—care for the whole person.
“We see this as an opportunity to really, you know, let LGBTQ+ students be authentic and be in community with each other and have a safe space on campus—spaces that have not been previously provided,” Christopher Rizzo, UGBC member and MCAS ’22, said.
Rizzo said the LLC could serve as a physical gathering space for members of the LGBTQ+ community, including those who may not live there. He also said the LLC could host speaker events, discussions, and community dinners.
Aneesa Wermers, UGBC member and Lynch ’23, said the LLC would house freshman members of the LGBTQ+ community and could hopefully connect them with other students they can live with during their sophomore, junior, and senior years.
Wermers cited Georgetown University, who approved its gender and sexuality LLC, called Crossroads, in 2018, because of its alignment with the Jesuit value of cura personalis—a value that BC shares as a fellow Jesuit university. To uphold BC’s Jesuit values, Wermers said, there is a clear need for an LGBTQ+ LLC at BC.
“And so through Georgetown … we can see how it’s had positive effects on students as they come into the university and really have the resources they need as LGBTQ individuals,” Wermers said.
Urwa Hameed, sponsor of the resolution and MCAS ’22, said BC will not need to acquire new residence hall space to house the LLC, but it will have to rearrange existing spaces.
Unless students have made a legal gender identity change, they enter their first year at BC as their sex assigned at birth, which impacts their housing arrangement, Rizzo said.
“And so the housing process sort of allots [students] into either a biological male or biological female process,” Rizzo said. “There’s not really any getting out of that at the moment.”
Under the resolution, UGBC will negotiate with BC about the process of roommate selection so that students will be allowed to self-identify, Rizzo said.
“Our ideal vision is that this is a floor that’s not segregated by gender, and that would have, you know, bathrooms and other accommodations in accordance with that,” he said.
Hammed said that Tom Mogan, associate vice president for student engagement and formation, told her that the Office of Residential Life and George Arey, associate vice president of ResLife, are looking for something tangible to bring to the administration to create the LLC. This resolution will serve that purpose, Hameed said
“This is the first stepping stone,” Hameed said. “We hope that it is very successful. We hope it’s as popular as, you know, we are all expecting it to be and it gets to that level. I’m pretty sure Boston College will live up to that and expand the program if it’s so popular.”
The next step, Hameed said, would be to plan out the details. The current focus, according to Dennis Wieboldt, SA representative and MCAS ’22, is articulating UGBC’s position.
“I think this could make a huge difference for incoming freshmen because, the sophomores, juniors, seniors, they have an opportunity to choose who they live with,” Ivy DiBiase, co-sponsor of the resolution and MCAS ’22, said. “Not knowing whether you’re going to have an accepting roommate, not knowing whether you know you’re going to face homophobia, transphobia, biphobia … that’s a terrifying feeling.”
DiBiase said that she was struggling to answer numerous questions from those opposing the resolution at the meeting. This is one of the longest resolutions, according to DiBiase, and has required a lot of time and effort.
“It’s surprising to me and like a little bit frustrating, like, to see so much opposition when I feel like this is an incredibly well-written, you know, piece of legislation that we’ve put forth,” she said.
Alexandra Katz, SA representative and Lynch ’23, said this resolution is extremely important because of the shortage of LGBTQ+ resources at BC.
“I fully and completely urge you all to support this resolution tonight because you don’t have to be a queer student at Boston College to understand and to know that there is such a shortage of resources here,” Katz said.
According to Wieboldt, who also serves as SA parliamentarian, the legislation will not go into effect until UGBC President Christian Guma, CSOM ’21, signs it. If Guma takes no action by March 2 at 9:15 p.m., it will go into effect at that time.
Taline Ratanjee, SA representative and Lynch ’21, asked how to ensure that the LLC would be a safe place for LGBTQ+ students, especially in light of the vandalism that occurred on the Multicultural Learning Experience (MLE) floor of Xavier Hall.
“Frankly, that’s incumbent upon the rest of the student body,” Rizzo said. “That’s incumbent upon UGBC. That’s incumbent upon the Boston College Police Department and the administration to make it a safe space.
Featured Image by Madeleine Romance / Heights Editor
Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly identified Christopher Rizzo and Aneesa Wermers as Student Assembly representatives.