LGBTQ+ Exclusive Flats in Halls of Residence
Recently at SUSU, we’ve had confirmation that the University of Southampton accepted our proposal on LGBTQ+ flats and therefore they will be implementing LGBTQ+ exclusive flats in their halls of residences in the 2022/2023 academic year.
This has been a big win as it was an idea brought forward by our student LGBTQ+ Officer, Jamie Norton. Having seen other universities (such as Sheffield, UWE, and Cardiff) introduce similar flats, he wrote a proposal for the halls, pitched directly to the Director of Residences. Jamie set out the main benefit of having these flats being that it “would be a simple way to ensure that any LGBTQ+ student who opts-in will have a secure and comfortable home at UoS halls: a space where they know they’re not at risk and won’t need to worry about the potential for harassment from others, or worse”. The proposal also included practical suggestions as to how to offer students the option on application forms, whilst maintaining confidentiality and making sure not to ‘out’ anyone on any documentation.
We then had a meeting with the Residences team, in which we discussed the proposal. One concern was that it may send the message that the rest of halls aren’t friendly or safe.
However, these concerns were alleviated by the LGBTQ+ Officer and Society representative, who pointed out that they have heard of LGBTQ+ students’ experience of feeling uncomfortable in halls and that improving the entire estate would require a fundamental change in the beliefs and prejudice of some, which is a much larger issue to tackle. In the meantime, the Halls offer a practical solution to ensure the safety and inclusion of LGBTQ+ students- for those who opt-in to these halls.
The Residences team agreed to progress with the new halls option! In the meantime, to help with the mapping of how many flats would be needed, Jamie and the LGBTQ+ Society ran a survey to gauge student interest. There was an overwhelmingly positive response in favour of the halls, with a strong consensus of 75% of respondents feeling that having LGBTQ+ flats would improve safety and their overall experience in halls.
So, this brings us up to the present day, in which the University have allocated 6 flats, comprising of 42 rooms (with the potential to expand if demand requires) ready for applications opening for returning students in February. This will hopefully benefit many students in the LGBTQ+ community and contribute to them feeling safe, welcome, and secure whilst at Southampton.