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Dorsey Hall residents were promised a safe space — instead, they found harassment

A few of Dorsey Hall's LGBTQ+ LLC residents have been harassed over the past few months by fellow dorm mates.
A few of Dorsey Hall's LGBTQ+ LLC residents have been harassed over the past few months by fellow dorm mates.

On East Quad, Dorsey Hall sits as the home of Miami University’s “Love. Honor. Pride.” (LHP) Learning Living Community (LLC), which is dedicated to creating a gender-inclusive space for the LGBTQ+ community.

However, this safe space has been threatened over the past few months by harassment in the hall.

Felix Karmilowicz, a first-year data analytics major, is part of LHP and said the issues started in late September with pumpkin smashing and have evolved into spitting on doors and hate speech on whiteboards.

“We're also having issues outside of Dorsey where people are seeing people coming out of [the dorm] and then they'll start barking at us,” Karmilowicz said.

Only the second floor and half of the third floor in Dorsey are dedicated to the LHP LLC, and the rest of the hall is filled with unassociated students and a business LLC. Karmilowicz said that the whole dorm held a meeting last semester to discuss the complaints coming from the third floor “about disrespecting people and their identities.”

The director of residence life at the time, Vicka Bell-Robinson, addressed the hall and compared their complaints to bike theft and her own experience growing up in an unsafe environment, Karmilowicz said.

“She's like, ‘I knew that I can't leave my bike out or else it's going to get stolen,’” Karmilowicz said. 

Since September, the various forms of harassment have included homophobic and transphobic comments made outside residents’ doors, broken flags, ding-dong ditching and more. 

Jack Moore, a junior integrated science education major and member of the LHP LLC, said he’s disappointed by Miami’s handling of the situation. 

“We all pay a good amount of money to live in a dorm where it's supposed to be safe, and you choose an LLC that you think you'll be safe in,” Moore said. “And of the one and a half floors in Miami that are supposed to be gender inclusive, that's just not what was given.”

Police responded one night after several allegedly intoxicated individuals tore items off a door and trashed a gender-neutral bathroom. 

“We were offered criminal misconduct charges, and then we decided not to charge them because we're still kind of conflicted with that,” Moore said. 

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When the harassment evolved to spitting on a resident’s door, a resident assistant (RA) filed a campus climate concern report. The resident, who declined to comment on the situation, was emailed saying they had been identified as a “student of concern,” and was sent suicide hotline numbers. Moore, who was familiar with the situation, said this felt “dismissive.” 

“It felt like Miami was acknowledging that [the resident] has experienced enough to be at risk of suicide, but yet they hadn't stepped in to help,” Moore said.

BaShaun Smith, dean of students, explained the process when a campus climate concern report is issued.

“When the report comes in, we will reach out to the student and any other impacted parties that we know about within 24-48 hours,” Smith wrote in an email to The Miami Student. “If the student comes in to meet, we will then discuss the incident in further detail, determine if there are any potential policy violations that OEEO or OCS need to review, and then offer support and appropriate referrals to counseling or other areas of campus.”

Smith also wrote that they work with staff connected to the incident to consult on messaging to buildings if they are in residence life and collaborate on programs to support students and to educate the community.

Smith strongly encouraged students to speak to their RAs, file reports and document evidence of harassment to ensure the university can take action. However, Smith said that the university can’t do much unless a student has names and documentation of harassment.

“We can still provide support to the individual students, even though I know that's not what people want to hear when they experience someone tearing down their door dec or anything like that,” Smith said.

Both Dorsey Hall and the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion have received new staff members, who Smith said are being informed about the situation.

“We got a lot of new people that are willing and able to support ‘Love. Honor. Pride.’ because they care about the community,” Smith said. “They love the community.”

Moore hopes that Miami will pay more attention to these allegations in the future if similar situations arise again.

“Miami should care more about students being at risk,” Moore said, “and finding a way to protect said students.”