First students accept gender-neutral housing
Five groups, or approximately 20 students, opted to take advantage of Residential Life’s new gender-neutral housing option in its inaugural year.
In February 2007, Student Union (SU) passed a resolution urging the Office of Residential Life (ResLife) to create gender-neutral housing. ResLife will be offering this new housing option in Lopata House in the Village and in Greenway Apartments for the 2008-2009 school year as part of a pilot program.
Students who chose this option were put into the regular housing lottery system.
Associate Residential Life Director Cheryl Stephens said that although she had anticipated that a few more students would choose this option, ResLife had set no student minimum when enacting this policy, so she is not disappointed.
“There are a few people who took advantage of it because someone in their group identifies as a transgender,” Stephens said. “We’re trying to meet the needs of our students and that’s why we felt like it was important to offer it as an option.”
Sophomore Maryse Pearce, co-president of Pride Alliance, a major proponent of gender-neutral housing, said that the group would continue to promote this option in the upcoming years.
“Once the word gets [out] about it I think we will have higher turnout,” Pearce said.
“Last week was Celebrations Weekend, and it was something that we tried to make students and prospective students aware of,” she added.
SU President Brittany Perez said that since many of the upperclassmen who are viable candidates for gender-neutral housing have chosen to live off-campus, she believes that as current freshmen become upperclassmen, more people will choose gender-neutral living.
“I am not sure why there was such a little demand for it,” Perez said. “Maybe as the years go by and it becomes a more institutionalized system more people will do it.”
Gender-neutral housing has received significant support from the student body. According to a 1,300-student poll conducted by ResLife, 64 percent of students said they were in support of gender-neutral housing as an option and 74 percent said they would consider it.
Stephens said that large student support compared to the small number who choose the living arrangement is a common trend among colleges that offer gender-neutral housing options.
“I think students like it as an idea of gender-neutral housing, and are supportive of it, but don’t necessarily want it for themselves,” Stephens said.
Despite the low turnout this year, Perez said SU would continue to support gender-neutral housing and hopes that ResLife will expand this program to other living areas such as the Loop Lofts.
“As long as Residential Life is still open for [gender-neutral housing] to be a policy, Student Union will definitely advocate it as a policy,” Perez said.
Popularity: 1% [?]