EXCLUSIVE: TNC reporter @elizwsmith gives us an inside look at a dormitory’s response to one freshman’s relationship. TNC asked Scottish Rite Dormitory for a comment but they did not respond in time. Tune in after the holiday break for more updates. pic.twitter.com/2Oa5KF2Kip
— Texas News Channel (@TexasNewsTSTV) November 20, 2018
Afreshman at the University of Texas in Austin says she feels unsafe in her dormitory after officials told her she could no longer have visitors because she’s gay.
Freshman Kaj Baker lives in Scottish Rite Dormitory, a private, off-campus facility that provides all-female housing to UT students. Baker told Texas News Channel (video above) that she used to study with her girlfriend — who lives elsewhere — in the lounge of the dorm.
However, Baker was called into a meeting with dorm director Mary Mazurek, who told her that other residents were uncomfortable with the couple’s relationship.
“We’re trying to make sure that everybody, all 315 residents, are comfortable, and sometimes it takes compromise on both sides to do that,” Mazurek said, according to a recording Baker made of the meeting.
“Why are people uncomfortable?” Baker responded.
“Because some people are not comfortable with your sexual orientation,” Mazurek said.
“That’s when I realized that it wasn’t about the rules; we were being targeted for being gay,” Baker told Texas News Channel.
Muzarek told Baker that unlike on-campus dorms at UT, Scottish Rite is conservative and residents pay $10,000 a year to live there.
“I guess it hurts that they’re saying that other people don’t feel comfortable in the dorm because of us, but honestly it’s the reverse,” Baker said.
According to the Daily Texan, other residents complained about Baker and her girlfriend studying together, wearing pajama pants in the hallways, and brushing their teeth in the bathroom. Scottish Rite places restrictions on male visitors, but not female ones.
Since the meeting with the director, Baker has been staying at her girlfriend’s apartment.
“It makes it sound like I don’t belong there in the dorm,” Baker said. “They’re saying, ‘[Your girlfriend] 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?”
The city of Austin has an ordinance prohibiting housing discrimination based on sexual orientation, but it was unclear whether Baker plans to file a complaint.