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Casa Del Rio student housing next to the University of New Mexico. Image taken on Friday, July 21.

Accommodations for queer students living at UNM could go further

For Queer students, finding out who your college roommate is can cause anxiety, Mara Cox – the president of Juniper Reimagined – said. While having roommates is a common practice at the University of New Mexico, for trans students it could possibly create an unsafe living environment.

“One of the biggest anxieties I personally had to face with getting a roommate you don’t know is wondering if you’ll have to hide yourself. If you do have to hide your identity, the best case scenario is just not interacting with the roommate at all – basically having to purposefully avoid them, which is hard when you live with them,” Cox said.

Living Learning Communities are one housing option that UNM offers to students. One of these communities is for gender-neutral individuals and allies.

While UNM has accommodations for the Queer community, some students from  Juniper Reimagined – a student group on UNM campus that advocates for inclusivity of the LGTBQ community – says more could be done.

The gender-neutral Living Learning Community consists of one hall and has a gender-neutral bathroom. Those on the floor are all either Queer or allies and it is sectioned off from the rest of the dormitory building. Cox, who is also a resident, said that while this is a good start, it isn’t perfect.

“Coronado has a lot of good aspects – the bathrooms, inclusivity, roommates, etc. The biggest problem it has is how far away and out of the way it is on campus. It’s farther than the rest of the dormitories, plus the hall itself is in a far side of the building itself,” Cox said.

The housing registration process in general is confusing, according to Cassandra Huneau who recently graduated from UNM and worked on the Basic Needs Project – studying college student basic needs insecurity.

“While UNM has done a much better job compared to other universities and it’s a great start, there’s still so much that can be improved upon as a whole. Especially when it comes to housing. That was one of the hardest things, personally, for me as a student,” Huneau said.

Juniper Reimagined wants UNM to create more gender-neutral Living Learning Communities or Queer housing options, Cox said. More Queer living spaces on campus would allow trans and Queer students to feel more comfortable and safe, Cox said.

“While the hall in Coronado is great for us, there shouldn’t just be one hall, there should be a lot more,” Cox said.

UNM ranked fourth of best colleges for LGBTQ students in the United States by BestColleges. Aragon attributed the ranking to the multiple student organizations, like Juniper Reimagined, that work for the betterment of Queer students.

“We need to keep pushing for improvement because, while things are good – a fact we are all happy about – we have lived too long in the dark to give up now,” Aragon said.

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BillyJack Davidson is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at

BillyJack Davidson

BillyJack Davidson is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached on Twitter @BillyJackDL 

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