Gender neutral housing on its way to St. Mary's

For several years, the notion of gender neutral housing has been tossed around campus at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

However last spring former Student Government Association (SGA) president Marlena Weiss and the rest of the SGA passed a notion showing their unanimous support of this new housing, according to current SGA President Mark Snyder. Progress was being made to make this a reality until Weiss graduated last May.“[Weiss] and [Assistant Director of Residence Life] Kelly Smolinsky worked together on this for awhile,” Director of Residence Life and Associate Dean of Students Joanne Goldwater said. “But they didn’t progress as quickly as I thought it would.”

The hope, according to Goldwater, is that a policy will be put together for approval by the end of the semester and be implemented by next year.

In SGA resolution 09-10S, which was passed last year, the SGA stated it supported “the adoption of a gender neutral housing policy on North Campus Housing (Lewis Quad, Waring Commons, North and South Crescents, and the Greens)…” However, the current policy is still in the works and it has not yet been determined what ages it will be available to or for what type of housing.

There are several issues to be concerned with gender neutral accommodations.

“When I first heard of gender neutral housing I thought of it rather negatively because my mind jumped to couples living together,” Senior and Resident Assistant on the Greens Lauren Jacoby said. “Things can get very exciting to the point where the situation becomes a little unhealthy because you don’t have any balance between time for your partner and time for your friends and yourself. But couples do this to themselves already without gender neutral housing so it’s only a real draw back if RAs all of a sudden have to mediate break ups.”

Goldwater also added that “we have to figure out how to handle the bathroom situation,” as decided whether or not males and females will share a bathroom. Other issues include parental concern and religious beliefs.

Once the policy is assembled, it will go through Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Laura Bayless then President Joseph Urgo’s board to receive approval.

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