Faith Monahan ’24
The cross-cultural living community (CCLC) was initiated “to bring in students of all backgrounds who wish to build and live in a safe, self-affirming, energetic, and close-knit community,” according to Trinity’s website. CCLC members began living in Doonesbury Hall during fall 2019, but the concept predates the introduction of these students to the building. Planning began during the Bicentennial Strategic Planning Commission meetings and was included in the Global College Subcommittee Report in 2017. The CCLC’s first year housing students in Doonesbury was interrupted in spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and since fall 2020, Doonesbury has been used as a space to house quarantined students on campus. Members of the CCLC have been moved to the 4th floor of Vernon Place for the 2020-2021 academic year, and it appears that those students will likely remain there for the coming year.
Director of Housing Operations Susan Salisbury told the Tripod that “Currently the plan is to reserve Doonesbury for isolation purposes in the fall. The CCLC will continue to be housed on the 4th floor of Vernon Place.” The current interim president of the CCLC Gabriel Sorondo ’22 added that he does “agree there is a general consensus that, aside from Doonesbury, [Vernon Place] is the best allocation we could have found.”
The movement from Doonesbury to Vernon Place, however, has impacted the functionating of the CCLC. Doonesbury was specifically selected due to the spaces provided and the 2019-2020 academic year and was the CCLC’s first active year. Simran Subramanian ’22 has been a member since fall 2019 and has lived in both Doonesbury and Vernon Place. She described that “we had a real sense of community [in Doonesbury] and that’s been the main difference living in Vernon, with the lack of common spaces and the kitchen.”
Professor of Political Science Reo Matsuzaki, who helped initiate the CCLC, told the Tripod that “There’s all these kind of things that really made CCLC special and more like a community, and in that sense, I think separate from some of the other things you find on campus.” The spaces that Doonesbury Hall provided, including its size and location, a kitchen for cooking meals, and communal living areas, have made the building useful for quarantining students, but these spaces are also important for building a sense of cross-cultural community living. Vernon Place lacks the same important features.
Matsuzaki added, “as a quarantine space, maybe other spaces are not as good [as Doonesbury]. But then again the CCLC is a space for many students of color.” Matsuzki indicated that he hopes “that other spaces are considered and the pros and cons will be weighed and to see, really see, if other spaces won’t work as a quarantine space.”
Sorondo added that it saddens him “that the college would take a space that provided a haven for POC students, queer students, and international students; I wish there was another solution than this, but it is the way the cards have been dealt and all we can do is only hope that our return to Doonesbury is sooner than later. I wish the administration would seek other isolation spaces that did not have to come at the expense of the CCLC.”
The administration has not indicated that it is actively seeking alternative isolation locations for the fall semester. The CCLC remains active, and Subramanian clarified that “Our applications for next year are live, so I encourage you to apply if you’re looking for a residential community that offers a safe space and support for all students.”