Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol 49, No. 1 - 92

METHODS
A qualitative methodology was employed in this study, which allowed for collecting
and analyzing descriptive data on the subject to uncover patterns relevant to the research
questions (Patton, 2014). Qualitative data are most useful when answering
broad questions that benefit from discussion and reflection. As campuses grapple with
how best to support LGBTQ+ students and how housing departments can play a role in
this work, we found qualitative research to be the best approach to collect data on what
students need from LLC spaces and the best ways to meet these needs.
Research Setting
This study took place at a large public research university in the Southeastern United
States. At this institution, more than 30% of students live in university housing, and
more than 15 LLCs have been established through university housing and partnerships
with academic and student affairs units. LLC participation at this institution has grown
significantly in the last several years, as almost half of all incoming first-year students
live in an LLC because of a mandatory live-on requirement. This institution does not
have an LLC specifically for students who identify as LGBTQ+.
Data Collection
Students who identified as LGBTQ+ and who were currently enrolled at the institution
were eligible to participate in this study. Participants were recruited in several
ways, including through LLC program directors and the campus LGBTQ+ resource
center. Study information was also sent to all students currently living on campus.
These strategies captured students who were currently living or had lived in university
housing at any point, past and current LLC participants, and students involved in
various aspects of campus life.
Focus groups were the primary method of data collection. Patton (2014) described
focus groups as group interviews of about six to ten people with similar backgrounds
and/or experiences. In most studies, multiple focus groups are conducted in order to
include a wide variety of perspectives and increase the reliability of the study's findings.
By using this method, we could find themes that emerged across groups to better
understand how students could engage with LLCs and the various issues surrounding
their implementation. Ten focus groups were conducted with a total of 64 participants.
The focus group protocol was informed by prior literature on LGBTQ+ college
students, the impact of LLC participation, and campus climate. We asked questions
to assess three primary areas of interest: (1) What role do LLCs play in supporting
LGBTQ+ students? (2) What do LLCs need to do to increase this support? (3) How
would an LGBTQ+ LLC serve the campus community? Focus groups lasted 1-2 hours
and had both a facilitator and a note-taker present. Focus groups were audio-recorded
to capture data verbatim.
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