Three HWS students, under the guidance of Associate Dean of Students Stacey Pierce, have formed a new theme house that will be home to 13 students this fall. The Queer People of Color and Allies (QPoC) house was founded by Chanel Andrews ’19, Denzel Degollado ’19 and Ethan Leon ’19 to create a safe and inclusive space for members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community.
Each year, there are roughly 20 theme houses on campus like QPoC that are centralized around a similar interest or cause. Students may submit proposals for new theme houses during the spring semester and a committee makes selections for the following academic year. A hallmark of the HWS experience, these diverse living communities offer students the opportunity to experience different cultures, explore areas of academic and social interests, as well as build strong relationships with other students, faculty and staff.
“We are ready to be a home for those who are seeking comfort and acceptance, and a home where development and maturity are reached through discussions, the challenging of ideas and the promotion of the acceptance of the differences that surround us,” explains Degollado, who will serve as the house manager. He hopes that the space will be “a home that will celebrate the intersectionality of LGBTQ+ culture and the many cultures of people of color.”
The organizers plan to host social programs and educational workshops on LGBTQ+ issues, especially in regard to queer people of color, as well as serving as a resource for students. Their goal is to operate as a bridge between LGBTQ+ groups like Pride Alliance and intercultural clubs, creating a stronger community.
Leon hopes non-members of the QPoC community will become involved. “We do not want people in the dark about any subject because it simply ‘doesn’t concern them.’ We want our smart student body to be engaged and make an impact and hopefully be an example for other colleges.”
“I realized that there were no clubs and safe spaces on campus that provided an intersectional view of fighting against oppression that properly represented people of color and queer people,” reflects Andrews.
She also is working to obtain club status for QPoC so that they can “have meeting spaces and greater opportunities for growth and inclusivity on campus.” Additionally, Andrews wants to facilitate outreach to the larger queer population, creating more resources for Geneva residents as well.
“We hope to foster a community that is filled with love and acceptance for one another, as well as for the differences that surround us and make our community beautiful,” Degollado says.
In addition to the QPoC, other theme houses for the 2016-2017 academic year include the Politics and Social Change house, Writer’s House, Hope House, Geneva 2020, Living Above the Influence, and respective Honors houses for both Hobart College and William Smith College.