‘Rainbow Floor’ criticism unfounded

Reading a recent letter critical of the new “Rainbow Floor” student housing option at UW-Eau Claire reminded me of the raging controversy at the time I started as an undergraduate student: co-ed residence halls, floors and wings.

Opponents back then invoked strikingly similar language: denouncing the university for engaging in “radical social experimentation” and declaring themselves proud never to have donated since and never planning to do so, including in their wills. Similar misconceptions applied: no students were “forced” into co-ed living situations and not all students “chose” this option.

I lived in co-ed dorms my first two years as an undergraduate and never noticed any problems. Critics’ supposed biggest fears, that we would be having sex with each other all the time, proved without basis; back then we regarded those living with us, especially on the same wing or floor, as akin to siblings, so no one contemplated sexual relations with our “sisters” or “brothers.” These were comfortable, supportive and inclusive environments, and surveys upon graduation showed we, who lived in co-ed housing, did better in school and were happier than our peers.

Some of those critical of co-ed student housing then objected to co-ed enrollment altogether: decline in discipline and concentration, they insisted, would inevitably follow. Yet, students continued to thrive and excel, including well beyond graduation. UW-Eau Claire is not forcing all students of particular kinds of social identity to live together. And only a small proportion of the total LGBTQIA student population could fit on even two floors.

Not every such student chooses this kind of housing. For those who do, if this enables them to feel welcome, included, accepted and respected, and helps them thrive and excel, as students and after graduating, we should all be grateful.

Bob Nowlan

Eau Claire

Altoona’s veterans park efforts lauded

As a veteran, I was ecstatic when I heard that the organizers of the Veterans Tribute Trail had snubbed their noses at the city of Eau Claire and its motley crew of obstructionists that calls itself the City Council.

For those organizers to have the fortitude to walk away from a $400,000 payment tells me that this project is in the right hands and will reach a successful finish. Seeing the bigger picture allows this project to not fall prey to the special interest groups who attempted to attach themselves to a name to which they are not associated.

As the organizers kept telling everyone, they only wanted to name their little piece of that special area. The gardeners have their own space, the peace coalition can have theirs, and both of them can name them whatever they please. What a shame that this City Council could not or would not see it for what it was. What a huge black eye that voters should remember.

I applaud the progressive and forward thinking of the city of Altoona. And, I thank them sincerely for getting our veterans out of another governmental debacle.

Bill Hart

Eau Claire