Monmouth College has a new space for members of their LGBTQ+ community.
The Rainbow Room came about as part of a SOFIA (Summer Opportunities for Intellectual Activities) project directed by psychology professor Sydney Greenwalt. The project allows students to work on intensive research in an area of interest for the three weeks prior to the beginning of the classes.
“(Creating the room) wasn’t included when I signed up, but Professor Greenwalt brought it up the first day,” said Izzy McDermott ’26 of Evanston, Illinois, one of the students who took part in Greenwalt’s section of the program. “Once I knew we were doing it, I was really excited. I thought it would be really fun to put a room like this together and that our students would use it.”
The room has seen lots of use in its first month. “If you were to stop by the room today, you’d see a note on the whiteboard that someone left within the last two days that says, ‘I love this room,'” says Greewalt. “Students are excited and proud to have contributed to creating a welcoming space on this campus.”
“A lot of kids have come up to me to tell me how much they like the room,” says McDermott. “There’ve been upperclassmen who’ve expressed their gratitude for the room, and they say they can’t wait to spend time in it. It’s a good feeling to know that we created this and to help with giving our queer students some sort of hope.”
The room, located in the Center for Science and Business, is painted in rainbow colors and features a pair of canvases created by SOFIA students. One features a quote from Adam Eli, author of “The New Queer Conscience” that reads “Queer people anywhere are responsible for queer people everywhere.”
“What took the most time was painting the canvases, which we did along with the SOFIA art group,” says McDermott, who noted that a work in progress in the room is its “little library,” which she hopes will continue to grow. “We’re trying to expand it. It has books about being a part of the LGBTQ+ community.”
Eli’s quotation “serves as a reminder that we hold a deep and rich history that extends beyond Monmouth College and across the world,” says Greenwalt.
The room includes resources on best ways to support trans and non-binary students in the classroom, as well as information on Safe Zone training that will help create a safer campus for all LGBTQ+ students. There’s also comfortable furniture, a miniature refrigerator and a table where they can relax, work and gather.
“To me, this space serves to allow LGBTQ+ students to feel a deeper sense of visibility and belonging at Monmouth College,” says Greenwalt. “It is a beautiful blend of institutional support tied with student engagement that provides our students with a sense of pride and a greater sense of connection to Monmouth College.”
“The project and SOFIA were much more than I expected coming in,” says McDermott. “It really made me feel like I got a head start on college.”
The Rainbow Room has already become home to one student organization – SAGA, which stands for Sexuality and Gender Alliance. “SAGA meets here at 5 p.m. on Fridays,” says McDermott. “We’re always looking for new people. It’s just hanging out with a bunch of friends.”