UT student says private dorm banned guests because she's gay
AUSTIN, Texas —
A private dormitory is being accused of discriminating against a gay University of Texas student.
More than 300 women live at Scottish Rite Dormitory, or SRD-- a private, all-female residence just feet from the University of Texas at Austin campus. UT freshman Kaj Baker says she’s the only one at SRD not allowed to have any guests.
“For the rest of the year, basically,” Baker explains. She says the dorm’s rules don’t match her punishment—especially when she says they can’t tell her what she’s done wrong.
Baker says, this month SRD administrators told her other women have complained about Baker and her girlfriend using the study lounge too much -- once falling asleep on the lounge sofas.
“The list of complaints weren't us doing anything wrong. We weren't harming anyone. We weren't doing PDA. We weren't breaking any rules. It was us existing,” she says. Baker adds, SRD told her other residents felt uncomfortable with her girlfriend using the bathroom.
“They told me that girls need to feel safe here, and I asked her if we made people feel unsafe. She said, ‘I'm not going there. I'm not going there just yet,’” Baker recalls. Baker recorded a half-hour meeting with SRD officials. She shared those recordings with CBS Austin. In one clip Baker asks what rules she’s broken but does not receive an answer.
CBS Austin reached out to SRD about whether or not residents are treated differently based on sexual orientation. They declined our request for an interview but director Mary Mazurek said in an email,
“Scottish Rite Dormitory strives to create an environment which allows our residents to focus on completing their higher education goals while meeting our Parent's expectation of creating an atmosphere that fosters the growth and well being of their daughters while attending the University. We have no further comment. Thank you.”
A copy of the dorm contract shows restricted visiting hours for males but says female guests are permitted. Overnight female guests must be registered with the dorm but Baker says her girlfriend never stayed overnight.
“If this guest ban was simply about the rules then us being gay or me being gay should have never been brought into it at all,” she says.
Baker was hesitant to talk with CBS Austin about the ordeal. While some residents are supporting her, she says she's faced backlash from others in group messaging apps.
“’I hope you're happy with yourself,’ and 'you're victimizing yourself plain and simple,'” are some of the messages she says she’s received.
What Baker wants now is an apology from SRD and to feel welcome in her own home.