Eight students have signed up for Texas Christian University’s designated on-campus housing for gay students and their supporters, in what may be the only such college housing in North Texas.
The DiversCity Q community will open in the fall in a section of the Tom Brown-Pete Wright apartments. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender students and allies — heterosexual classmates who support them — will have the chance to live together, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in a story posted Tuesday on its Web site.
“It’s a chance for students to be part of a unique experience,” said David Cooper, TCU associate director for residential life.
TCU sophomore Shelly Newkirk, who is gay, applied to create the program. She said eight students have committed to live in the apartments.
“Well I’ve been trying to create a safe space on campus for the queer community,” Newkirk said Tuesday in an interview with Dallas-Fort Worth television station KDFW. “We’re not creating just like a bubble for ourselves, but creating a space where we can have open dialogue and students can be comfortable.”
TCU will also open two Christian-based living groups, another for fine arts and three other themed housing arrangements. It’s all part of the university’s living-learning communities, designed for students who want to live with others who are like-minded.
Living-learning communities are common at universities in Denton and Tarrant counties, but none has an on-campus living program for gay students. A fraternity for gay and straight students opened in 1998 at the University of North Texas but had closed by 2001, University of North Texas spokeswoman Sarah Bahari said.
Neither Cooper nor Newkirk had received any criticism, they said.
“Surprisingly, I found nothing but support,” said Newkirk. She said she was prepared for criticism.
“Sometimes those things can bring a community together,” she said. “It doesn’t have to tear us apart.”
It has been a dark Easter Sunday for the city of Houston. Early this morning a veteran and rookie firefighter died battling a house fire on the southeast side of town. Captain James Harlow, 50, and Damion Hobbs, 30, are the first to die in the line of duty since 2005. The cause of the fire is unknown.
Harlow has been with the department since 1979, while Hobbs just graduated from the HFD Val Jahnke Training Facility last month. Autopsies will determine their exact cause of death.
Minutes after midnight fire crews responded to a house fire on Oak Vista near De Leon. They ran into the burning home while an elderly couple was running out. The couple was not hurt. Eventually, the decision was made to pull all of the firefighters out of the house.
“When they had the roll call after they came out, the firefighter who was the third member of the crew came out and told one of the chiefs two members of his crew didn’t come out with him,” said District Chief Tommy Dowdy.
Dowdy said the flames were so intense firefighters couldn’t immediately go back inside to look for their fellow men. Cpt. Harlow and Hobbs were later carried out on stretchers while members of Houston Fire Station 26 stood at attention in a wall of honor. The two men died before making it to the hospital.
“A lot can go wrong when you’re fighting a fire inside. They’re prepared for it, but it’s a risky situation, and we ought to remember that and keep them in our prayers,” said Mayor Bill White, who arrived on the scene shortly after the fire started.
It is indeed a sad day when heroes die just doing their job. Neighbor Courtney Joseph said, “I wanted to grab one of them and say, ‘Everything is going to be okay. Hang in there. Don’t give up hope.’”
But on a day when so many celebrate life over death, it was hard to find hope in such a difficult time. At Station 26, the flag was lowered to half staff as members of the community brought flowers to the station and site of the fire.
Arson investigators have been at the scene all day which is common whenever there is a death.