Spring semester closing of Korb Hall isolates members of LGBTQ+ community

Korb Hall has reopened its LGBTQ+ living learning community.

Cameron Aloway Reporter

Correction: This story has been revised to include statements by university officials.

In December, the Department of Residence Services announced the closure of Korb Hall for the spring semester which resulted in displaced residents and signified a loss of a community. The third floor of Korb Hall housed the LGBTQ+ Living-Learning Community.

“We saw very low numbers of students re-contracting to live [in Korb Hall] for the spring,” said Jill Jenkins, executive director of Residence Services. “Korb, at one point, had about 10 students at the end of November who were signed up to live in the spring.”

Established in 2016, the LGBTQ+ Living-Learning Community was opened for students who wanted to learn more about sexual orientation and gender identity, all while being supported by the university’s LGBTQ+ Center. 

“Everyone was really nice and helpful,” said Jaevohn Bradley, a first-year fashion design student who lived in the Living Learning Community last semester. “If you ever needed help, there were always three people ready at the door.” 

The LGBTQ+ Center remains adamant that the LGBTQ+ Living Learning Community is still active for the students who are a part of the program.

“Although the LLP doesn’t have a dedicated hall for this semester, the LGBTQ+ Center will still be putting together virtual programming to support those of you in our LLP,” said a representative from the LGBGTQ+ Center in an email.

The floor established itself as a safe space for those who identified within the LGBTQ+ community. 

“Your mind is at ease when you’re surrounded by people in your community,” said Sawyer Lulei, a first-year fashion design student, who also lived in Korb.

The hall even helped residents become more involved in their community. 

“Korb had so many programs,” Lulei said. “They literally had a pamphlet under my door at least once a week about a program. They definitely showed that they supported us.”

When the department notified each student who would be affected by the closure in December, the department worked with the students on how to best support their needs and stay connected with them.

“When they moved me, they actually made sure that I didn’t have a roommate, so I felt safe,” said Kellum Thompson, a transgender sophomore majoring in nursing.

However, Thompson and many others still feel that the university does not have a valid reason for closing down Korb Hall. 

“[Me and my roommate] specifically choose Korb because of the Living Learning Community,” Bradley said. “So, it was a little weird when we had to move out so early.”

Others believe that the university should take more initiative for the residents who lived on the floor. 

“I think it’s definitely an oversight on Residence Services’ part,” said a former resident assistant who wished to remain anonymous after working in Korb Hall. 

They expressed that even though the harm was inevitable, it doesn’t excuse how little the university reached out to the impacted students.

“I feel bad for them. I know that if I had been in their place, I really would have struggled with having my support system taken away so suddenly with such little alternatives,” they said.

Although the Living-Learning Community is inactive for the spring semester, it will always hold a crucial spot for those who lived in the hall. 

“Coming to school for the first time is already scary and being someone who is queer is another layer on top of that,” Bradley said. “Korb Hall was really a place where you don’t have to worry about that. You get to just focus on school.”

Korb Hall will be reopened for the fall semester along with the placement of the LGBTQ+ Living Learning Community. 

Cameron Aloway covers diversity. Contact him at [email protected].