Members of the University of Limerick’s student life team supported the launch of rainbow housing in the college PICTURE: LIAM BURKE/PRESS22
THE University of Limerick (UL) is providing on-campus accommodation exclusively for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and allied community.
In a first for Ireland, UL’s Campus Life services, which provides on-campus accommodation at the college will now give the student the option to apply for so-called rainbow housing when submitting a housing application for one of the seven residences, which house 2,800 students.
The idea of the scheme is for students who wish to live together in a house which supports the LGBTIQ community.
UL is the first college in Ireland to provide this scheme, with only one other currently offering the idea in Britain.
Already, nearly 200 applications from more than 30 different countries have been made for the upcoming academic year.
Campus Life services villages manager Carol-Jane Shanley, who is spearheading the initiative said: “Campus Life Services has long been committed to providing the best student living experience for students at the University of Limerick.
“This involves ensuring high quality accommodation facilities and service in a secure environment for all our residents. It is with this intention of providing a safe, secure living environment for all residents that we came up with the rainbow housing programme.”
She acknowledged that rainbow housing will not solve the problems of every LGBTQ student in the Uuniversity.
“However, it can create the conversation in which people can learn from one another.
“The best way to fight homophobia and transphobia is to educate and that’s what we hope to do with rainbow housing,” Ms Shanley added.
Dr Amanda Haynes, the co-director of UL’s hate and hostility research group added: “UL will be enriched by the presence on campus of a resource that encourages all of our LGBT students and allies to be active, critical, political, disruptive and constructive contributors to our collective campus life.”
She also said rainbow housing is not about “self-segregation”.
“It’s about giving LGBT students access to a supportive base in which to launch themselves comfortably, proudly and assertively in campus life.
“For those LGBT people who choose not to live in LGBT housing, and there will be many, the presence of rainbow housing is just as important.
“It provides visibility for the community on campus which ,for students in many cases, coming from schools, where they may have felt culturally invisible can be very impactful,” Dr Haynes added.
The University of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England, is believed to be the only British university to offer the initiative.