Off-campus dorm increases restrictions on LGBTQ student

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Photo Credit: Sarah El-Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Kaj Baker used to spend nights studying in Scottish Rite Dormitory with her girlfriend. But now, her girlfriend is no longer allowed in the dorm, as first reported by Texas Student Television.

After spending a few late nights studying with her girlfriend in the SRD lounge, Baker was asked to attend a meeting on Nov. 14 with SRD Director Mary Mazurek and SRD registrar Meshelle Bourne to discuss guest rules. 

During the meeting, Mazurek told Baker some of the residents in the dorm were not comfortable with her sexual orientation. Bourne said Baker was no longer allowed to bring in guests for the rest of the semester.

“We’re trying to make sure that everybody — all 315 residents — feels more comfortable,” Mazurek said in her meeting with Baker, based on a recording given to The Daily Texan. “And sometimes that takes compromise on both sides to do that.”

SRD is a private off-campus dorm that only houses female students. According to the SRD contract, which was provided to The Daily Texan by Baker, male guests are only allowed in the hall from noon to 10:00 p.m on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There are no restrictions on female guests unless they stay overnight.

“Scottish Rite Dormitory strives to create an environment which allows our residents to focus on completing their higher education goals while meeting our parent’s expectation of creating an atmosphere that fosters the growth and well-being of their daughters while attending the University,” Mazurek said in a statement to the Daily Texan.

Mazurek declined to comment further.

Baker, a communication sciences and disorders freshman, said people had complained about her and her girlfriend wearing pajama pants in the halls, studying late in the lounge and brushing their teeth together in the bathroom. According to the contract, none of these actions are against the rules. 

“I think it’s unfair because they told me that (their decision) wasn’t based on a rule at all,” Baker said. “They backed up their decision with us being gay. That should have never ever been mentioned if it was just about rules.”

Carlee, Baker’s girlfriend, said she has not been taking any advantage of any amenities such as the shower or dining hall. Carlee’s last name has been withheld for privacy reasons.

“Every time I’ve gone there, we’ve gotten looks,” Carlee said. “At the beginning, people didn’t really know who I was, but then that all kind of subsided, and people have been really nice to us. So it was just surprising that they were trying to say that now I wasn’t allowed to be there.”

Baker said she has been staying at Carlee’s apartment in West Campus because she feels uncomfortable staying in the dorm.

Baker said Mazurek and Bourne, who have not contacted her since the original meeting, told her she was not violating the SRD contract. Baker said if SRD changed the contract to exclude female guests at certain times, she and her girlfriend would follow the contract. 

“It makes it sound like I don’t belong there in the dorm,” Baker said. “They’re saying, ‘Carlee is gay. She doesn’t belong there, so we’re not going to let her in the dorm.’ Well I’m gay too. Do I not belong there?”