Sylvia Rivera Floor Aims to Foster Community in First Year

Sylvia Rivera Floor Aims to Foster Community in First Year

The Sylvia Rivera community hosted its floor launch party on Nov. 27 to celebrate its first year as a themed floor. The community, which is located on the fourth floor of Moore Hall and named after gay rights activist and queer icon Sylvia Rivera, houses LGBTQ students and allies seeking to build relationships in a space that is affirming of their identity. Just under 30 students live on the floor.

According to the floor launch party event page, the floor is “to [the college’s] knowledge, the first residential community in a college campus to be named after a transgender woman of color in the United States.” Claire Cho ’20, co-president of the floor, said there was a big push for the creation of the floor in the last three to four years.

“The Office of Residential Life continued to say no until last year, on the day of room draw, when ResLife said ‘oh, we’ll give you the floor,’” Cho said.

According to Jxhn Martin, director of the Queer Resource Center, “it is a common practice to have themed flooring that represents different marginalized groups or underrepresented students on college campuses across the country. LGBTQ floors are a staple of that.”

“It is an essential part of that to create an intential way for LGBTQ folks to form bonds and relationships with one another,” Martin added.

Additionally, Martin said that “the floor has just finished its first year, and the current students are determining the floor’s direction, that is, what it will become.”

They recognized that the floor should have been created and launched sooner, though the process of becoming themed housing happened quickly. “It was sort of like, ‘we should have this, why don’t we have this?’” Martin said.

One resident of the floor, Armando Brito ’21, noted that “ LGBTQ students] don’t really have formalized community programming or planning” but also said he understands that the floor is relatively new and expects it to become more socially oriented over time.

He added that he hopes to clearly define what the floor is about and suggested that the floor become politically active as a way to encourage floor bonding.

The current social events, which include birthday parties for the residents, tea time and snacks, are “very relaxed, and we’re really good about telling the entire floor,” Brito said.

Hunter Lampson ’21 who lives on the floor says it’s the people who make the floor the best. “I love living here, everyone here is great. We got a good group of people from the application process, and we all have big personalities,” he said.

The floor has come a long way in the last year, moving from what Brito called an odd location in the basement of Moore to the fourth floor. “The floor is very comforting now,” he said.

The floor also adopted a more streamlined title over the past year. Though the floor was always called the Sylvia Rivera floor, the official title of the floor changed from the LGBTQ and Allies themed housing to the Queer and Trans theme floor.

The removal of the word “allies,” Brito said, ensured that the people accepted to live on the floor wanted to participate in the LGBTQ community rather than secure themselves a single room. Allies are always welcome to apply and live on the floor, he added.

Brito also expects the community to become even more popular next year, due to the floor’s current popularity and the increased number of LGBTQ students in this year’s first-year class, he said.

Lampson and Brito both emphasized the floor’s centralized location, community and overall atmosphere. “I think [the floor] provides a community for people in a really positive manner, and it surrounds a group of historically marginalized individuals with one another,” Lampson said.