Stonewall Suites joins five other University of Indianapolis Living-Learning Communities this fall. This new LLC serves students of the LGBTQ community and allies, according to UIndy’s website.
Living-Learning Communities, or LLCs, are communities where students with similar academic interests can learn and socialize together, according to UIndy’s website. Alison Nichols, the interim program director of the occupational therapy doctorate program, said this LLC gives students of the LGBTQ community an opportunity to live and attend classes together. According to Nichols, who has been involved with Stonewall Suites for about nine months, this LLC has been in development for over a year. Nichols said she believes LLCs have been helpful in giving students, particularly freshmen, the chance to build a community.
“For example, we have a nursing LLC, and nursing can be really challenging in terms of the academic coursework, just having people that they’re able to easily connect with and find somebody to talk to and work with on some of that content,” Nichols said.
Some UIndy LLCs are only available to incoming freshmen, according to Nichols, but this LLC is available to upperclassmen as well. Nichols said there are sophomores and incoming freshmen in the suites.
According to Nichols, having the opportunity for social and emotional development in Stonewall Suites is important. She said she believes having people living in the suites with others with similar backgrounds and a mix of freshmen and upperclassmen will be nice.
Students residing in Stonewall Suites must be enrolled in certain courses to remain in the LLC, according to the UIndy website. These courses are from different departments and include courses such as LGBTQ Health and Gender Issues in Law and Society, according to the website.
“One of the things that I think makes this one a little different from some of the others that we have—[such as] a biology LLC, or we have had a nursing or an honors—where it feels a little more obvious what classes those students take together because they take nursing classes or biology classes or honors classes,” Nichols said. “Whereas here, we’ve been looking for classes that may be of interest to them, classes that they don’t necessarily have to touch on LGBTQ issues but that does help and gives different perspectives… Across the board, we’re up for looking at all kinds of different classes, and hopefully… as we expand the university’s knowledge and the faculty’s knowledge of this, we will learn of other classes that we didn’t even know about that might be good options for people.”
Junior criminal justice and psychology major and resident assistant Arrianna Martinez plans programs for the suites. Martinez said that in addition to LGBTQ students, allies can also join Stonewall Suites.
“I’m an ally, and that’s why I decided to be … interviewed to be the LLC RA,” Martinez said. “Because it’s also important to have people who aren’t part of the community. So if it’s hard to advocate, then the allies can advocate for them.”
Nichols said she hopes that the LLC will continue and find connections for students around campus, as well as increase the number of members in the future.
“I think we’re certainly hoping that this is one that will continue and that, by having freshmen and upperclassmen, … we will kind of continue to build this continuum of individuals who [can say,] ‘I’ve been here for my first year, and now I’m going to be kind of the mentor to somebody as they’re coming to campus,’” Nichols said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to build up our numbers a little more, though we have great numbers for our first time through.”
Nichols said that the Stonewall Suites are important to campus because although UIndy’s campus has a long history of support, she believes there are individuals on campus who want more than an extracurricular activity for support.
“Having an opportunity to live with people who have similar experiences will be really important, especially [because] they might be coming from rural areas where they didn’t have a whole lot of resources,” Nichols said. “They might be coming to a new city—they’re coming to this new campus, and giving them the opportunity to make connections with individuals who
are going to be supportive of them as well.”
Martinez hopes more students will join the LLC. She hopes that, along with more LGBTQ students, more allies will join as well. In addition, her goal for the year is to help members feel comfortable in the space.
“I believe [the LLC is] important because, I mean, some people don’t have a safe space at home, so this is their home away from home,” Martinez said. “People are coming into college to experience new things, and I feel like this will be a place for people to feel safe, have a home and be able to [have] experience[s] with other people.”