Photo of Raymond House, where ResEd is located. Photo by Lee Hendricks-Richman.
Several genderqueer (transgender and non-binary) students voiced concerns on the Lawrence Student Discord server over their treatment during Welcome Week. Concerns included being placed on floors that didn’t align with their gender identity and being deadnamed on their door decorations.
Both Sophomore Jorja Springer and First-year Billy Greene applied for gender neutral housing as first- years but were instead placed on gendered floors. When Springer and Greene reached out to the Residential Education & Housing Department (ResEd), their responses were very slow and left both students wondering what was going on, according to Springer and Greene. Greene and Springer both claimed that they were promised an update by a certain date, but the updates were not given then.
“I was told that Lawrence did a really good job with that on my tour,” said Greene. “I was given information that people with the same pronoun sets were roomed together by their tour guide.”
For Greene, it took ResEd sixteen days to assign them to an appropriate floor. Greene’s first email to ResEd went unanswered for over a week, and they had to reach out to Dean of Students Dr. Brittany Bell in order to get any response back. Two days before move-in day, Greene was relocated.
After Springer reached out to ResEd leading up to move in week their first year, asking to be moved from a female floor to a gender-neutral floor, ResEd instead had their roommate assignment changed from a female to a male, while keeping them on the same female floor. It took about a month after that for ResEd to move Springer’s room assignment to a gender-neutral floor and the slow communication caused Springer to wonder if it was being taken care of. Springer was eventually assigned to an appropriate floor right before moving in.
During fall term, Springer had a friend who began transitioning genders. This individual emailed ResEd who placed them on a wait list for a new room, Springer said. They then reached out to Resident Hall Directors, now referred to as Area Coordinators, for help and was given a list of people who were alone in a double room so that they may email them and ask to move in with them, Springer said. This was unsuccessful and the friend was allowed to stay with Springer which ended up lasting into spring term when someone else let them move in. Springer said that it was extremely unprofessional and could have put transgender students in danger.
When asked if they think Lawrence is living up to that promise, both Greene and Springer said that the campus population is generally quite friendly but that in their opinions, the institution is not.
“We go to Lawrence asking for help and we don’t get the understanding that we need,” said Springer. “There’s been complaints for a long time that the ResEd office is just understaffed, unorganized, and that they are kind of incapable of helping anyone, most of all trans students.”
Director of Residential Life Stephanie Knoppa was reached out to by The Lawrentian but has not currently responded to our interview request.