The Rack helps students dress to impress

By Kaci Watt, Staff Reporter

Halie Parkinson
The Rack, 618 S. Michigan Ave., is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Whether you need a necktie for an upcoming interview, toothpaste to freshen up or just want a new T-shirt, The Rack is an option for all students.

The Rack, 618 S. Michigan Ave., is a new clothing and toiletries shop for students to get products they need for free in an affirming and nonjudgmental environment, Director of the Student Diversity and Inclusion Office Charee Mosby-Holloway said.

The idea for The Rack arose from a clothing swap held last year by Columbia Pride, a student organization that promotes an inclusive LGBTQ community on campus. There was a large number of clothing items left over after the event that were stored at the SDI office, and the organizers wanted to find a way to give students access to the clothing, Mosby-Holloway said.

An important aspect of The Rack is providing a space for nonbinary students to comfortably get clothes that fit their identity, Mosby-Holloway said.

“[Sometimes people don’t] feel comfortable going to Target and shopping in the section that best allows them to express their gender, whether they don’t have the money or just don’t feel safe or it’s not a possibility,” she said. “Everyone should be able to get the things they need in a place where they feel affirmed and they feel safe to do so.”

Students can access The Rack Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. –6 p.m. in the SDI office located on the fourth floor of 618 S. Michigan Ave. To enter the store, students must check in at the front desk and provide their Oasis ID number.

The inventory is reliant upon donations to have the store stocked as much as possible at all times, Mosby-Holloway said. If students are looking to donate to The Rack, they can do so in person at the front desk  or email the SDI office with their inquiry.

“We have many students who struggle with getting their basic needs met—home, housing, security, safety, those sorts of things,” Mosby-Holloway said. “Sometimes shampoo or toothpaste [are needed]  to get through a week. If we have the ability to provide that, then we want to be able to provide that service for our students.”

Student employees in the SDI office also had input on the creation and construction of The Rack, including junior creative writing major Joyce Guo. The student workers painted the room and constructed the shelving units for the supplies to be stored. 

Guo will be taking on a role as a store associate.

As a member of queer organizations on campus, Guo said The Rack was something that made sense to have on campus and for her to help develop.

“At Columbia, we make a lot of assumptions about the students,” Guo said. “We assume everyone here has money or everyone here doesn’t have money. Both of these assumptions exist simultaneously. We also assume everyone has the resources they need to live life to the fullest when that isn’t true, especially for a lot of trans students on campus.”

Sophomore game art major Nasr Bin Safwan attended the opening April 18 and said he is looking forward to seeing the space evolve and donating items.

“For a school that prides itself on diversity and inclusion, this is something I would expect,” Bin Safwan said.  “It’s a nice concept that people can give away stuff, and it can end up in a nice home. It’s all about sharing and community.”