Campus is buzzing again as students move into residence halls at the University of Arizona. According to a university spokesperson 6,600 new students will move in by Monday.
One of those new faces on campus is Serena Cruz, 18, from Tucson. Cruz is the student president of Arizona-Sonora Residence Hall, one of the largest on campus. She says part of her responsibilities include planning and facilitating programs to welcome and engage students who come from across the nation to attend UA.
“I’m going to try to build a community and connect with everyone in there,” Cruz said.
Part of her training included instruction about how to interact with transgender students, especially when it comes to using pronouns when referring to people.
“We definitely try to be open to respectful pronouns and people's gender identities,” she said. “This day and age [students] try to be more open about themselves and here at AZSO and UA campus in general we're trying to be more accepting.”
The university offers what it calls open housing for transgender students. They can talk with a counselor to find a living situation that is best for them. Three residence halls offer all-gender restrooms.
The university hopes all students who move in this weekend feel at home and stay through the year.
“Our statistics show students who live in a residence hall at least one year have a better G.P.A. than students who never live on campus,” said Dana Robbins-Murray, a UA Residence Life spokesperson.
Fostering a sense of community that encourages students to be themselves and accepting of others can be a major boost to young people entering an important time in their lives.
“As an LGBT member myself I know I was really thankful to find a roommate that was respectful of that,” Cruz said.
Move in continues through the weekend. Classes begin Monday.