A People's History of Middlebury College

a history of Middlebury College centered on marginalized voices, social/political mobilizations, and periods of struggle

A People's History of Middlebury College

Queer Studies House

On December 3rd, 2007, a proposal for a new academic interest house was presented to the Community Council. The proposal for the Queer Studies House was spearheaded by three executive members of the Middlebury Open Queer Alliance (MOQA), Ryan Tauriainen ’08 (co-president), Christine Bachman ’09.5 (co-president) and Molli Freeman-Lynde ’08 (treasurer).

According to their proposal, the mission of the Queer Studies House was to:

…provide a space for students with demonstrated academic interest in Queer Studies to develop and expand their awareness as well as bolster the visibility of the academic field and the queer, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender students within the College community. In addition, the Queer Studies House will strengthen our curricular commitment to diversity, serve to educate the campus about issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, and provide a safe space for any student struggling with these issues.

The interest in a Queer Studies House was not a novel idea. An archive of the old MOQA website indicates that a non-residential Gender Studies House was proposed and approved in the late 90s, but in the minutes for the SGA Senate meeting about the QSH, Tauriainen mentions that Gender Studies House was “never set up”. Additionally, according to Freeman-Lynde as quoted in a Campus article about the event, there had been “10 years of talks of establishing a house like this” and that due to a “recent upsurge in homophobic incidence,” the creation of the house would stand as a symbol of the College’s condemnation of discrimination.

While the three executive members of MOQA asserted that “the proposal has been met with very positive responses with College administrators and students,” there was a some pushback to the proposal for a variety of different reasons. Some feared that queer students would use the house to segregate themselves from the rest of campus, and/or that the residential aspect of the house was unnecessary (for examples, check out the comments on this Middblog post). Interestingly, opponents to this proposal included the current SGA president and openly gay Max Nardini ’08.

“I’ve come up against flak for being both a homosexual and someone who is against the residential nature of this proposal,” said Nardini. “One term that got thrown in my direction was ‘self-hating gay,’ and my fear is that the sort of ‘with us or against us’ mentality that exists in some facets of the gay community would negatively impact the residential aspect of this house. At the end of the day, are we going to create a division between queers and queer-friendly individuals who either live in the house or support its residential aspect and the queers and queer-friendly individuals who do not? To talk about one gay ‘community’ on this campus is highly inaccurate.”

“Queer Studies House okayed” The Middlebury Campus. 11 April 2007.

The proposal was passed with a 5-4 vote in the SGA Senate on January 20th, and given its final approval by the Community Council with a 9-1 vote and one abstentation on January 28th. The house became a reality the following academic year (2008-2009) at 70 Hillcrest Road, and has remained there ever since.

Queer Studies House

The Queer Studies House at its 70 Hillcrest Rd location.


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