SUNY Oneonta

SUNY Oneonta announced a pilot housing program for LGBTQIA+ students, set to open this fall.

Named for the black transgender activist who was a trailblazer in the early days of the LGBTQIA+ liberation movement, Marsha P Johnson Community Housing will join other LGBTQIA+ student housing options on campus, SUNY Oneonta Director of Residential Community Life Tyler Miller said in an email.

“While we also have Safe Space Housing and Gender Inclusive Housing options, we wanted to provide an additional option for students that are looking specifically for that sense of community through networking and support,” Emily Phelps, assistant director of Student Life and Leadership at the college’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center said in an email.

The program is an effort of the college’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center in collaboration with Residential Community Life. The housing is currently only available for returning SUNY Oneonta students, according to a media release from the college. They will need to select it as part of the housing application process, which ends Feb. 15.

Fourteen students have requested to live in the Marsha P Johnson Community Housing, and the number grows each day, Miller said. He said students interested in this housing option were concerned about safety, and asked for the building’s location not to be publicly disclosed. 

The college’s Residential Community Life provides educational programming for students in residence halls, Phelps said. The new housing option will offer programming with more of a focus around gender and sexuality, she said. 

“For instance, if programming is done that is around health, there will be more of a focus around LGBTQIA+ experiences under that topic, so that it’s more closely tied and relatable to that community,” Phelps said. “The programming offered will also be student driven, so we want these students to help shape what they want to get out of their experience with this option. We also plan to make sure that many voices and experiences within this community are elevated and included in the programs provided.”

Phelps said a consistent trend she’s seen is the need for LGBTQIA+ students to find their support networks. 

“Our Generation Z students especially are looking for more inclusive spaces and are much more aware of these social justice issues as they begin to navigate their college experiences,” Phelps said. “While we want to make sure all students feel supported and integrated into the overall college experience, we also recognize and acknowledge that marginalized groups face more obstacles and often lack support. This is an opportunity for students to become connected in a way that is more intentional.”

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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