By Margot Leckron
For The Diamondback
University of Maryland students searching for a more relaxed LGBT+ environment now have a special place to interact with other members of the campus community.
The Multicultural Association of Psychology Students sponsored the opening of the Rainbow Room, a hangout space for LGBT+ students in the biology and psychology building. The space officially opened Sept. 28.
Students can meet in the room from 2 to 3:30 p.m every Thursday to casually socialize and do homework with one another. The space is open to LGBT+ students and allies alike.
Many on-campus LGBT+ activities are usually one-time or weekly structured events, said senior Jose Lima-Rosas, president of MAPS, a student organization that supports underrepresented students within this university's psychology department. He said that was why MAPS wanted to create a new space on campus.
"As a queer person myself, I recognized that there were some resources here on campus that were accessible to me, but I still felt there were some resources lacking," the psychology major said. "So we decided to fill a gap. This space is an unstructured space so people can … be surrounded by people who look like them."
MAPS, which was started in 2016, hopes to expand the Rainbow Room program to a space that's open more often.
"While we are excited for the work we're doing now, we're treating it like a trial period," Lima-Rosas said. "We're asking people: 'Is the time that we're dedicating to it enough? Is the space accessible to people? Are people comfortable?'"
Although fewer than 10 students attended the first meeting, many said they were glad to have this new kind of space in their community. Lima-Rosas said as the program continues, the group hopes to have the entire room filled.
"It's nice that everyone said 'hi' when I walked in," said Lauren Roundtree, a sophomore enrolled in letters and sciences. "It feels like a really welcoming space."
Junior Louie Dukinfield, who helped organize the event, said he hopes more people will come. The psychology major said he became interested in helping with the Rainbow Room after a psychology professor emailed him about Lima-Rosas' idea.
"Today's been nice, but we could have even more people if people knew about it, but we're getting there," Dukinfield said.
Despite the turnout, Dukinfield said he's glad to have a space away from professors and adults.
"It's been really fun to make our own space," Dukinfield said. "It's nice to just show up every week and make [it] whatever we want."