Chancellor: Criticism against LLCs not targeted at LGBTQ housing community

Chancellor Victor Boschini said Monday that the negative public reaction that prompted the decision to close the new Living Learning Communities was not targeted at approved housing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning students and their supporters.

Boschini said he received many reactions regarding the announcement of the new LLCs, most of which were centered on concerns that the communities foster separatism.

“Some people were complaining about individual issues, but the biggest concern I got was, ‘Does this fit our academic mission?'” Boschini said. “Does it promote separatism or does it promote unity?”

Shelly Newkirk, sophomore social work major and co-creator of the DiversCity Q LLC, said she thinks Boschini heard concerns about the LLCs only after the media attention about the LGBTQ community.

Susan Harz, junior social work major and co-creator of the LGBTQ LLC, said the media inaccurately represented the community’s purpose.

“The LLC was meant to form dialogue for students interested in diversity and inclusiveness with special attention to LGBTQ community members and their allies,” Harz said.

Newkirk said the media claimed the university was setting aside housing for gay and lesbian students. She said the majority of students in the LLC were straight allies of the group.

Holly Buechner, a sophomore speech pathology major and a member of the Honors House, said LLCs can separate members from the rest of the student body but they also do a good job of reaching the rest of the campus community.

“To an extent, I think (LLCs) do separate students,” Buechner said. “But it’s one of those things that’s an opportunity to get involved with people that you didn’t know. In general, I think they do a good job of connecting people on campus.”

Newkirk said the LGBTQ community’s mission included interacting with the rest of the campus through educational programming, thus limiting separation.

Boschini said he has asked Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Nowell Donovan to put together a committee consisting of faculty, staff and students to come up with guidelines for the LLCs. He said once the guidelines are set, even the old LLCs, which will stay in place next year, will have to conform.

Themed Housing:
Honors House
Green House
Health and Wellness
Language and International House
Freshman Interest Groups:
Honors House
Service and Learning
Women in Science and Health (WISH)

“I didn’t think it was fair to the kids in those units, because they’re already in them,” Boschini said.

Calls to Donovan were not returned before press time.

According to a campuswide e-mail from Boschini, the committee’s recommendations will be forwarded to the executive committee of the board of trustees, who will forward them to the full board.

Harz said she is concerned about the role the board of trustees will play in this decision making.

“As a TCU student, I do not understand why LLCs must now have guidelines approved by a group of people who will not be living on campus nor interact with the students on a daily basis,” Harz said.

Several members of the board of trustees, including
Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Donald J. Whelan Jr., did not return calls for comment.

Newkirk said students planning to live in the new LLCs will still live in their housing assignments but the programming part of the LLC – educational programming like movies and guest speakers including faculty partners – will be eliminated.

Calls to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Don Mills were not returned.

Rachel Siron, hall director for Carter and Samuelson halls, which house seven LLCs, said she could not comment on the issue.

Siron, in an e-mail addressed to LLC members, instructed the members not to talk to the media.

Staff reporters Curtis Burrhus-Clay and Libby Davis contributed to this report.