Mike: Spoke Out Against Gender-Neutral Housing
Mike Young, a College of William & Mary senior, says there are too many spotty patches in gender-neutral housing policies for it to be considered a viable campus option. Mike co-wrote (with Her Campus staffer Sarah Nadler) an opinion piece last fall for his college paper titled “Not the time or place for gender neutral housing.”
Mike sees multiple problems with a gender-neutral option: One, it’s too susceptible to abuse. He says. “Say a boyfriend and girlfriend decide they really like each other, and that they want to give gender-neutral housing a try,” says Mike. “Does the school have to find new dorm rooms for these people if they break up? I don’t think that’s something that has been answered by any of the proponents.”
Two, Mike says it can only complicate dorm lottery processes at schools that are already low on available rooms. “Any college with a housing scarcity problem would probably feel the same way about assigning special interest housing,” he says.
Mike also says schools that rely heavily on donations must consider the potential repercussions of policies donors may not support.
However, Mike is quick to point out that he completely supports looking into other alternatives for LGBT students who don’t feel comfortable in standard housing. While William & Mary does not have a gender-neutral housing policy, the College currently offers an adaptive housing policy based on gender identity. It gives easier access to single rooms, Mike says. “If someone is uncomfortable with their living situation, that’s something that the college definitely needs to address,” he says. “I just don’t think gender-neutral housing is the best solution.”
Morgan: Getting the Word Out on GNH
Morgan Richardson, who’s on the executive board of Northwestern’s Rainbow Alliance, was thrilled to hear about Northwestern’s new pilot program. “Many of Northwestern's competitor schools have similar programs. It was time for NU to step up,” she says.
Morgan lives in a single in a gender-neutral suite. “I decided to live here because I wanted to support the program. I think it needs to be publicized more so that students who need this program can know about it and take advantage,” she says.
Morgan says the experience has been great so far. She even hopes to live with some of the people she has met through the option next year.
Sam: Living the Policy
Housing near Princeton doesn’t come cheap. That’s why the vast majority of undergraduate students choose to live on campus, says senior Sam Borchard. Sam really wanted to live with one of his friends, who happens to be a girl, so they looked into gender-neutral housing after Princeton announced the new policy.
He currently lives in gender-neutral housing with three good friends—one other guy and two girls. The four roommates each have their own bedroom, but they share a common area and bathroom. “It's been wonderful!” says Sam. “We all get along really well, and the rooming situation has been one of the most pleasant I've been in at school.”
Sam, who’s heterosexual, says he and his roommates are in favor of supporting the LGBT community with this option, but that’s not why they chose it. “We decided to live in gender-neutral housing because we’re all friends and wanted to live together,” says Sam. “I think ideologically we all support it, but it wasn’t a stand.”
Would he make the same choice again? “Absolutely!”
Jeffrey Chang, co-founder and associate director of the National Student Genderblind Campaign
Ron Ozio, Director of Media Relations, University of Pennsylvania
College students from across the country