Inter-House Council (IHC) recently considered the possibility of gender-neutral housing—and hopefully will move forward with this idea. Implementing gender-neutral housing options would be a positive decision for the University community. Past additions of gender-neutral bathrooms to our campus accommodated the privacy of transgendered individuals or individuals who felt constrained by traditional gender labels. The University would be in keeping with this philosophy of promoting a diverse campus community by extending this policy of gender-neutral options into the dorms. This would allow students to live in an environment that conforms with their notions of gender.
Gender-neutral housing would obviously not be universalized. We aren’t advocating the imposition of this policy on all students, as that would also hinder the quality and improvement of student life. People with religious, cultural, or personal reasons for wanting gender-specific housing should have that option. Yet it’s important that not only their requests, but also other students’ requests be honored—and this can be done by including the option of gender-neutral housing. Student demand for such a housing option is just as valid as student demand for gender-specific rooms, suites, or floors.
This plan wouldn’t only benefit students, but would most likely benefit the University as well. The University is a fan of keeping students in Housing, and adding gender-neutral facilities to dorms would add incentive for students to stay in the dorms.
But keeping transgendered students in housing is not only something the University ought to stride toward in order to achieve its own ends. Forcing different types of students together is for everyone’s benefit and is one of the best ways to overcome the stereotypes and prejudices that are rampant in our society.
But most importantly, if the University wants to act consistently with the thinking behind the initial proposal of gender-neutral bathrooms, and respect members of the University community who do not primarily identify themselves with a specific gender, then gender-neutral housing is the only logical next step.