Korb Hall to be new LGBTQ Living-Learning Community on campus


Korb Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016.

Nicholas Garisto

Korb Hall is being turned into a Living-Learning Community for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students who are interested in the issues of equality.

“This place is for students to get to know each other better, to have a place they know they’ll be with like-minded people that are likely to be accepting and open to people that fall within this sexual minority group,” said Ken Ditlevson, director of the LGBTQ Student Center.

Jill Church, executive director of Residential Services, is excited about the support from a wide range of related programs.

“We’re partnering with the LGBTQ Center that (Ditlevson) oversees, and then the academic program (Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality),” Church said. “The whole staff will be a part of that and develop things that are of interest to the community.”

Ditlevson believes the new Living-Learning Community will help bring students together around academics relating to the LGBT minor.

Along with the LGBTQ Student Center, the community is partnering with the Center of Gender and Sexuality Studies, which will be directed by Molly Merryman, associate professor of sociology. The residents will be required to take one course that will be taught in Korb Hall every semester by Lauren Vachon, assistant professor of LGBT studies.

“This is what makes it a true Living-Learning Community and not just a social group … so we’re going to be having the academic side of things involving faculty coming in to talk about their research and connect with students,” Merryman said.

Karl Macura, an academic advisor of the arts and sciences, will spend several hours of his advising time in Korb Hall helping students to experience a “seamless experience,” Merryman said. 

“This (community) is such a whole package with advisors, classroom, and a living community,” Vachon said. “A Living-Learning Community is a great thing because we’re really making a difference.”

What makes Korb Hall unique are the single bathrooms that many other residence halls do not have.

“We picked Korb because those bathrooms are shared by all students, regardless of gender and sexuality,” Church said. “We have gender-inclusive housing in 14 different halls, but we wanted to (include) a hall for this community with the base price.”

Korb Hall already houses many individuals who identify as LGBT, including Irene Altieri, a freshman chemistry major who identifies as queer.

“It’s very open and welcoming … especially with the amount of LGBT students (who) are already there,” Altieri said. “We’re all close friends, we all go to the (LGBTQ Student Center) or to Pride (Kent Pride!), and we all know we have each other there if we need it.”

Altieri recalled when she initially moved in to the hall.

“I think I moved in a day or two early and I was very nervous, especially since I was moving into a dorm and moving away from my family,” Altieri said.

For anybody interested in moving into the Living-Learning Community, Altieri has nothing but encouragement. 

“I would tell them not to worry because this is one of the most open campuses in the country, so you don’t have to worry so much about adversity,” she said. “If you move into the Living-Learning community you’re definitely gonna be with other LGBT students and they are going to know what you’ve gone through. You’re also going to learn what they’ve gone through, so it’s a big support system.”   

According to Merryman, there are tentative plans for an unveiling ceremony in June.

Nicholas Garisto is a women and gender issues reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]