Out with the old, in with the new: Dorms across the country go gender neutral

by niesha davis


Gender neutral dorm rooms are beginning to creep their way onto college campuses across the country. Barnard College is one institution that has begun accommodating queer and trans students. Beginning this fall gender neutral dorm rooms will be offered on a trial basis. The push for gender neutral housing was started almost two years ago by the Barnard Student Government Association. 

The new housing initiative,which is just coming to fruition now, challenges the assumption that all Barnard students are female identified and that it’s in their best interest to live with other female identified persons. While the idea that a gender neutral dorm would be needed in a college based around women might seem weird to some, in actuality it’s really not. 
   After all, the school already has a variety of gender neutral bathrooms scattered about the campus. A move like this only serves to make students who do not fall within the lines of traditional gender binary, more comfortable and at home on their campus. In a world where injustices like homophobia still exist, the home often serves as a safe space from all of the evils of the outside world. 

Woman’s colleges aren’t the only institutions that are changing their tune when it comes to cohabitation rules. After the death of 18 year old Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide after his roommate posted a video of him in an intimate encounter on the internet, officials at Rutgers University implemented gender neutral housing to make the campus more safe for all students. In addition to Rutgers,Ohio University, Emory University, University of Southern Florida, and Columbia University are also offering similar co-ed housing options.

As someone who has roomed with females as well as males, I’ve discovered that my ability to get along with roommates has had less to do with gender and more to do with shared interests than anything else. A living space is supposed to serve as more than a place for our clothes and personal belongings, our home is supposed to be a sanctuary from all of the troubles of the world. No one should be made to feel like an outsider in their home, for any reason.

I for one am happy that there is the option for people to live with like-minded individuals. What say you in regards to gender neutral housing? Should men and women be allowed to live together on campus, or is it in everyone’s best interest for things to continue as they have up until now?

Source:CNN.com,Columbiaspectator.com, Womensenews.com. Image: Rebekah Kim 


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