Gender Inclusive Housing Options at NU
BACKGROUND As of August 24, 2007, 30 college campuses offer gender inclusive housing options (genderpac.org). This figure does not include colleges that began offering gender inclusive housing more recently, such as Washington University in St. Louis, which will begin a gender inclusive housing pilot program beginning in the 2008-2009 school year (studlife.com). Mandatory same-sex housing can inhibit personal and academic growth and housing policy and practice should empower students to choose safe and supportive living spaces. Gender variant students often feel misplaced in their dorm. The students living with or around gender variant students, even when they respect the gender-variant students, are often made uncomfortable. This discomfort, on the part of both gender variant and non-gender variant students can be highly disruptive to both personal and academic growth. People who want to live in single-gender housing may be assigned to live with a transgender person, so having gender-inclusive housing would actually help keep single-gender housing single-gendered. Still, gender-inclusive housing would benefit more students than just gender-variant students and their hallmates. Gay students can frequently face discrimination from or feel uncomfortable around same-sex roommates. Though this is not necessarily true, roommates of gay students, even when they are fine with gay people in general, may feel they have been placed without consent with a student who may be attracted to them. The reason why our housing is single-sex is so that students are not placed in these situations. The existence of gay and gender variant students nullifies that original purpose. Students who want to live with opposite-gender best friends would also benefit from having the option to room together. As adults, students should have the option to choose for themselves. We define gender inclusive housing as housing available to people of all genders. Multiple-occupant rooms are not necessarily single-gender; roommates are assigned based on standard procedures, with the exception of gender. PROPOSAL We request one wing, floor, or suite that is gender inclusive. Nobody would live in this space without giving consent. A prospective resident would apply by checking a box and writing a brief statement of interest, similar to those required for Residential Colleges. The bathroom(s) in that area would be open to people of all genders. Trash cans must be available in all stalls. Urinals would not be required, but preexisting ones need not be removed. Students of all years would be welcome. BENEFITS OF GENDER INCLUSIVE HOUSING - Gender variant residents would have a safe haven in which their gender is not a source of contention, and could therefore focus more fully on other aspects of their lives. - All residents would develop a deeper understanding of other genders. - Gender variant sophomores, juniors, and seniors would be more likely to live on campus, and have greater opportunities to participate in campus activities. - The existence of gender inclusive housing options would demonstrate Northwestern University\'s commitment to diversity and inclusion. - Gender variant prospective students would be more likely to choose Northwestern University. We, the undersigned, support gender inclusive housing options at Northwestern University and request that the university provides such options.