New Harvey House Offers Welcoming Living Space for LGBTQ+ Students

A purple wall in a staricase is printed with the words Harvey House and shows repeating colorful images of Harvey Milk

ALBANY, N.Y. (Aug. 12, 2021) — A new housing option opens this semester on Dutch Quad, designed as an intentional community that supports and affirms the cultural experiences of queer and transgender students.

Harvey House, in Ten Broeck, is set to welcome 46 students, a mix of new and returning students. And it’s not just a residence hall.

“This space was specifically created to provide targeted programs, resources and staff that fully support the LGBTQAI+ community,” said Jameelee Ford, the assistant director for community development and programming for the Department of Residential Life. Ford began meeting in the summer of 2020 with Jake Evans, the student who spearheaded the formation of Harvey House, and others to develop the new housing option.

Evans began the process with his own inquiries about housing equity and protections for LGBTQ+ students, and found willing support from the Office of Student Affairs, which oversees Residential Life, as well as the Student Association and the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GRSC).

“When I was a freshman, my biggest worry coming into college was my housing situation,” said Evans, now a senior. “I wasn’t worried about classes or grades or fitting in socially — I worried about who I’d be rooming with, sharing that space where I need to feel comfortable.”

Evans, a business major with a concentration in marketing and a minor in theater, decided to move into the World of Theatre living-learning community freshman year, banking on his experience that theater people tend to be inclusive. But he remained committed to creating a comfortable housing option for incoming LGBTQ+ students.

While the University already has gender inclusive housing options in most residential living spaces, Harvey House is different because it brings people together in a multi-floor residence, creating a community, and also offers events and programming, Ford said.

“We will be working with the Office of Intercultural Student Engagement, the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center and the Student Association to provide an inclusive and engaging welcome week for students in this space as well as monthly programs in our Student Success Center and across campus,” she said.

Placing Harvey House in Ten Broeck made sense because of its proximity to the Health Center and Counseling and Psychological Services, also in Dutch Quad, and to Campus Center West, where the GSRC and Women’s Resource center are.

Evans, who last year served on the Student Association as director of gender and sexuality concerns and this year will be GSRC supervisor, found inspiration in Rivera House at SUNY New Paltz. “It’s a similar concept,” he said, adding that he thought it was important that UAlbany, as one of the four University Centers in the SUNY system, also have targeted housing for LGBTQ+ students.

Evans also came up with the name, Harvey House, which recognizes UAlbany alum Harvey Milk ’51, a politician and activist who became the first openly gay elected official in California.

Students at Harvey House will be supported by two residential assistants and an intercultural peer educator. And while Evans will be living off campus this year, he’ll have a hand in programing at Harvey House through his role at GSRC.

Programing is supported in part by a $6,500 StAR grant from the University. Welcome Week programs already planned include making door tags, a bus tour of Albany and an ice cream social, Evans said.