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Dartmouth trustees approve residence hall for lesbian, gay, allied students

Dartmouth College plans to open a student residence hall for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex and allied students by fall 2014.

The college’s Board of Trustees approved the construction of the residence building, to be named the Triangle House, at its Sunday meeting. Construction is expected to cost $3.6 million, which will be paid for with reserve funds from residential life programs and fundraising, said Dartmouth spokesman Justin Anderson.

“It is open to any student who is committed and interested in learning about the queer community and being an advocate for the queer community,” said Alysson Satterlund, director of the Office of Pluralism and Leadership.

The house will have room for 27 residents and include a two-bedroom apartment for an adviser. Students will have to apply. Heterosexual students interested in helping and advancing the LGBT community also will be welcomed to live in the home, Satterlund said.

The house will be located at 4 North Park St., which has been home to Dartmouth staff and graduate students. Eight townhouse-style rental units will be configured in the residence building.

The name is inspired by the upside-down pink or black triangles that gay inmates were forced to wear as badges in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust, which has become the gay pride insignia of the LGBT community. At Dartmouth, the three sides of the triangle also represent “community, knowledge and action.”

Triangle House will also be fitted out with a communal kitchen and rooms for academic and social activities, including a flexible meeting space, said Mike Wooten, director of residential education.

Satterlund hopes the house will become a place where faculty members will stop by and share their expertise with students, as well as a location for celebrations in the gay community, such as Pride week.

Designed to foster learning alongside living, Triangle House will integrate academic programs and host dialogues on sex, gender, identity, sexuality and interpersonal relationships.

Construction is expected to begin in October.

The only other area allocated to LGBT student living is a gender-neutral floor in McLane Hall reserved for sophomores, juniors and seniors. The floor will remain gender neutral after Triangle House opens, but Wooten said he imagines the floor becoming a space where early conversations about gender and identity will take place among students. It could even possibly become a floor for first-year students.

The house is also exciting for alumni, said alumna Caroline Kerr, president of the Dartmouth Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Alumni Association. Numerous alumni have worked with Dartmouth administrators to help design the structure and programming of the house, said Kerr, a 2005 graduate.

She added that alumni have reached out to her and said they’re willing to support the house financially or make creative donations, such as artwork.

“It’s not just about alums willing to write checks, but you’ve also got others who think this is so exciting that I want to contribute something else,” Kerr said. “I think it’s reflective of how meaningful the house is.”

For many alumni who were students at Dartmouth decades ago, Kerr said, the house is exciting because they never could have envisioned such a residence when they were students.

“I love the image as an alum, I could sit on the porch of the Triangle House and have an informal mentoring conversation with a student,” Kerr said.

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