According to the President of the Student Government Associate (SGA), senior Marlena Weiss, the option of gender neutral housing will be a reality at the College.
However, not until the room selection process during the spring semester of 2012 will students be able to choose for the following fall semester.
The campaign for the housing option has been a large part of Weiss’s platform during her time in the SGA.
Specifically, the new plan will allow students to choose to room with another student of the opposite gender.
This is one step further than the current situation, in which students have the option of sharing a suite with mixed genders, but still must room with a person of the same gender.
As of yet, Weiss has heard only positive feedback about the proposal. “I have never talked to anyone who’s against it,” she said, including students who do not currently reside in on-campus housing.
Currently, the only concerns she has heard deal with circumstances for first year students.
Though the choice will be primarily restricted to North Campus, the option would be open for first years, according to Weiss, assuming they take the necessary steps in contacting Residence Life, though that seems unlikely given that most students enter knowing very few other students or have access to North Campus.
Additonally, Weiss said there will be no circumstance under which a student would be forced into a gender neutral housing situation, including study abroad cases.
For example, if a female and male live together in the fall and the female travels abroad in the spring, unless the male student otherwise informs Residence Life, another male student would be assigned as his roommate for the spring semester.
Weiss used winter break to finish putting together the proposal, schedule a meeting with the President’s Council, which she said will be the final step, and talk with all departments to “double-check [that] all our bases are covered.”
With the time until the program’s inception next spring, Residence Life should be able to work out most of the kinks, Weiss said.
However, when the option is actually available, Weiss believes that is when any functional issues with the system will arise and be worked out.
Part of the reason the program won’t start for over a year is because Weiss believes it is important to have time for Residence Life staff and the students to prepare for and make the gender neutral transition.
“I hope that students interested in participating in gender neutral housing will start communicating with [Residence Life] as soon as the school year starts,” she said.