Editorial—We support the Pride Rock housing initiative

North Wind Staff

For many students coming to NMU as members of the LGBTQ+ community, finding comfortable housing is an ordeal. Now, as of Sept. 20, the Pride Rock proposal has been submitted to NMU administration, and it details plans for an LGBTQ+ priority house in the dorms which would significantly reduce housing-related stress for many queer students.

The Pride Rock initiative has been in the works since 2020 and even resulted in a previous proposal which was denied by the administration due to time restraints. We at the North Wind expressed our support for the concept when it was still in the beginning stages, and published an editorial on the topic last fall. As an editorial board, we have signed the current proposal, signaling our support.

Primarily, this proposal functions to help LGBTQ+ residents avoid uncomfortable roommate situations and anything else that might come up related to their gender identity or sexuality. 

Currently, students are restricted to searching for roommates based on their assigned gender at birth only. They are able to specify their gender, but are restricted in roommate options and sometimes have to go in blind, unsure whether their roommates and suitemates will be accepting of their identity or sexuality. Eliminating the potential for a hostile situation can protect the mental health and physical safety of LGBTQ+ students, particularly transgender students.

In the Pride Rock proposal, roommate selection would be gender-blind for this particular hall. The proposal also makes an important effort to shift the language in NMU’s housing application itself to better accommodate LGBTQ+ residents. This is the type of structural change that can positively impact student quality of life for a vulnerable population.

Allies as well as members of the LGBTQ+ community are all welcome to live in Pride Rock. Additionally, it is important to note that rooming in the Pride Rock hall is purely optional, and queer students would in no way be pressured to live there if they had no interest in doing so. In this way, the hall would function just like any other themed house on campus.

The Pride Rock hall would be in a Quad II residence hall, which is more affordable than the Woods, effectively reducing any financial barriers for potential applicants. 

Placing students in a hall filled with members of the same community as well as allies of the community would help students feel they had an automatic social support system simply by virtue of having accepting neighbors.

Additionally, Pride Rock includes more and better training for housing staff on how to assist LGBTQ+ students and even how to handle any hostile targeting of members of that community.

Ultimately, NMU must realize that it is time to move forward, accept the future and evolve in a positive direction. In order to competitively provide comfortable housing, NMU should follow the lead of competitors such as Alma College, Central Michigan University, Michigan Technological University, Oakland University, University of Michigan and Western Michigan University in providing LGBTQ+ focused housing. The aim of housing and residence life at this university must be to accommodate students as much as possible and ensure that residents are as comfortable as possible in their living situation as well as in their own skin. We certainly pay enough for the privilege.

As we see it, there are simply no cons to accepting this proposal. We hope the administration and Board of Trustees will accept the vision of Pride Rock.