The Queer and Ally House, also known as Q&A House, intended to apply for permanent status this year, hoping that more stability will increase their ability to perform outreach, but were only able to obtain temporary theme house status.
Q&A House acts as a 24-hour safe space on campus, geared towards the LGBTQA community.
“We are the only 24-hour safe space on campus, which I think is really important, because even in such an accepting environment as Knox, if you’re struggling with your identity it’s really helpful to have a safe place that’s run by peers that you know have either gone through the same thing or are sympathetic to that,” junior Oakton Reynolds said.
Reynolds, who has lived in the house for two years, recalled an instance where a student utilized the house as a resource.
“I had one guy last year who came here a couple times and just played Mario Kart with us,” Reynolds said. “You could just tell that he was not okay but he didn’t want to talk about it and, like, the very last day he came here … and just talked about some things.”
“He ended up leaving Knox for financial reasons but he was here; he used this resource.”
Reynolds believes that the mission of Q&A and the resource it provides to campus sets them apart from traditional theme houses.
“We’ve been around since 2009, and we have always kind of thought that we were more than a theme house … we’re not really a theme. We’re not really a cultural house either, but we are a resource that belongs here.”
Q&A House has been seeking a more established presence on campus for several years, according to Reynolds.
“I don’t know about the founders of this house, but definitely the past couple of years…we have been trying to get out of the normal house lottery process.”
Theme houses reapply for housing every year and are required to meet certain contractual obligations to retain the ability to reapply. These requirements, according to Reynolds, serve to stifle the ability of Q&A House to perform outreach.
“I hope that we are more legitimized, because a lot of people on campus know we exist, but not everyone knows where we are, and a lot of people know what we do, but don’t quite understand it all the way.”
Reynolds is confident that the house will be successful moving forward with the permanent housing process. He said that he has received support from members of Student Senate as well as Associated Dean of Campus Life Craig Southern and Assistant Director of Campus Life for Housing Operations Koreen Kerfoot.
Kerfoot said that the Campus Life office would assist them moving forward as “they’re a strong house.”
“It was established that this year we are just another theme house, so we applied to be a theme house, we were accepted and then they also gave us a path that we can go down to become long term, so hopefully we are going to jump on that right away and that process will be well underway by the end of this academic year to make us a more permanent presence,” Reynolds said.