Letter to the Editor: Responding to ‘Queer Cohesion’

May 31, 2019, 8:17 p.m.

Dear Editor,

I am Darnell Carson, and I am writing on behalf of myself and my roommate, Sarah Ondak, both current residents of Terra, known on campus colloquially as the “queer co-op.” We read the magazine article, “Queer Cohesion,” and while we felt many valid points and opinions were made and presented, we felt uncomfortable with the way Terra was characterized.

First, Darian Rice is quoted saying “Terra has its specific parties, but it doesn’t seem linked to other [communities].”  This year, our staff team has made considered efforts to facilitate conversations about the queer community, to connect with experts and activists within the queer community, and to create spaces where these conversations are possible. In addition, we have bi-weekly and quarterly events that are open to the entire campus for people of all identities to gather and socialize. This quote minimizes our efforts to foster an inclusive environment where anyone is welcomed.

In response to the Espey quote that calls political gays on campus “Terra-gays,” we want to note that students of all backgrounds reside in Terra. While this space may have historically been perceived as majority white and cis, Terra has evolved to be a diverse community of queer people from various racial, socio-economic, and cultural backgrounds. We aim to be a home for all, and quotes like this are hurtful to the students who have worked hard to make Terra a safe space.

We would like to recognize and appreciate the inclusion of the Terra resident, referred to in the article as “Basil”, who provided the perspective of someone currently living in the dorm. While we understand that the broader queer community on campus is spread out, as you’ve made note of in your article, we wanted to take this time to acknowledge that Terra actively seeks to become as inclusive as possible, and we as a house have worked hard to make that a reality. The responsibility of creating and maintaining a unified LGBTQ community does not fall solely on Terra, though we welcome the opportunity to establish any relationships we can with other LGBTQ groups on campus, and we are always open to collaboration for programming. 

This article cast us as reclusive and disconnected from other groups. We always have improvements to make in our connections to the broader queer community on campus, but we are not a lonely island in Cowell Cluster, and it is just as important for groups to reach out to us as it is for us to reach out to them.

We understand past perceptions may have deterred or discouraged individuals or groups from wanting to interact with our community, but those perceptions are not reflective of Terra as it exists today, and we encourage students to come and get to know us better, and they may find that the queer community is not as incohesive as they thought.

— Darnell Carson ’21 and Sarah Ondak ’21, current Terra residents

Contact Darnell Carson at darnellcarson ‘at’ stanford.edu and Sarah Ondak at sondak ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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