Living-Learning Community helping LGBT on campus


The LGBTQ Living Learning commuinity room at Korb Hall Monday, Oct. 3, 2016

Nichola Nease

This semester is the start of the first year for Korb Hall’s new living-learning community designated for the LGBT community on campus.

According to Susannah Hufford, residence hall director for Residence Services, the LGBTQA Living-Learning Community allows residents to learn about LGBT identities, gender and sexuality, as well as social justice in the forms of classes and educational programs.

Hufford said Korb was a perfect fit for the living learning community due to it already being co-ed by room, with gender-neutral communal bathrooms. She added that there have been a lot of student requests to join the community.

“People are very interested in joining and moving to the floor,” Hufford said.

The students, according to Lauren Vachon, assistant professor of LGBT studies, are mostly freshmen — many of who chose Kent State specifically for the living learning community.

“They knew they could come here and be safe, and not be judged for who they are,” Vachon said. “If you’re an LGBT student, you choose your school carefully, and this helps LGBT students choose Kent (State).”

Vachon said other benefits of living in this type of community are that it can improve student outcomes, such as reducing binge drinking and improving retention.

For Riley Braun, a freshman anthropology major and current resident of the LLC, it’s more than just a residence hall.

“I have many other people on my floor with the same experiences as me,” Braun said. “It has benefitted my mental health when I am around the people who validate me every day.”

Braun said in his last residence hall, he felt like he had to hide who he was.

“It was an all girls dorm and I certainly couldn’t talk to my roommate about me being a transgender male,” Braun said.

Braun added that he felt isolated during his freshman year, and didn’t fit into a traditional residence hall.

“I had my birth name on my door and I couldn’t say anything about it because I was afraid of what they would say or do,” Braun said. “I had to be cautious because I was a transgender male on a floor of cis girls.”

After moving to the LGBTQA LLC, Braun said it has been an extremely positive change for him.

“I feel stronger and more confident in myself. This is the best environment that a queer person would greatly benefit from,” Braun said.

Hufford said she has received meaningful feedback from students involved in the LGBTQA LLC, and it is the first time they’ve felt like that had a supportive community.

“It means so much to me that the Kent State community is embracing the LLC and that students can feel like they have a real home on campus,” Hufford said.

According to Vachon, the community is not limited to its current size, and they are hoping to grow exponentially in the future.

Nichola Nease is a diversity reporter, contact her at [email protected].