A Texas college freshman is trying to raise enough money to move out of her dorm after administrators told her that her girlfriend was not allowed to visit.
Kaj Baker, a freshman at University of Texas in Austin, says she no longer feels safe in the privately-operated Scottish Rite Dormitory (SRD). That’s because SRD Director Mary Mazurek told her that her sexual orientation made the other 314 residents uncomfortable, and she was no longer allowed to have guests.
Baker’s story made national headlines last week after she recorded the November 14 meeting with Mazurek and other administrators. On the recording, published by The Daily Texan, Mazurek told her that “sometimes it takes compromise on both sides” to make sure all residents are comfortable.
When Baker asks why people are uncomfortable, the dorm director makes clear that the issue is Baker’s LGBTQ status.
“Because some people are not comfortable with your sexual orientation,” Mazurek responds.
The all-women dorm does not allow male guests to stay overnight, but female guests are welcome under the policy. SRD is owned by the Scottish Rite Freemasons, an extension of the secret fraternal organization that has a complicated anti-LGBTQ history.
“I think that if more girls in the dorm got a chance to really get to talk to me and my girlfriend, they would realize that we are good students who follow the rules and are just like anyone else living at the dorm,” Baker said in an interview with LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD. “At the end of the day, we are more than what is happening at my dorm.”
In a series of emails to INTO, Mazurek admitted that SRD had failed “to treat all students fairly,” and is “working to make the situation right.”
“We are investigating fully what happened, and also contacting Kaj to address her situation directly, which we regret not doing as soon as we learned of her broader concerns,” Mazurek said in a statement. “Pending the outcome of our investigation, we are committed to taking the steps needed to ensure our residents are safe, welcomed and supported — including sensitivity training for all staff and resident assistants, and clarifying SRD’s visitor policies.”
Pressed on what exactly was being investigated given that Mazurek herself was the administrator to block Baker’s girlfriend from visiting, Mazurek repeated that the dorm failed to ensure all students were treated fairly.
“We are addressing this now in a number of ways and are committed to making it right,” she wrote.
Mazurek told INTO that the Scottish Rite Dormitory doesn’t have a policy regarding LGBTQ residents or guests.
The fallout has forced Baker to move out of the dorm. In the meantime, she is temporarily staying with her girlfriend Carlee (whose last name has not been reported), returning only to get personal belongings, she said. In the meantime, Carlee has launched a GoFundMe to help Baker move out of the dorm.
“She doesn’t deserve to feel ridiculed or isolated for simply existing and being who she is,” wrote Carlee on the fundraiser page.