News and Analysis

Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 4:54 p.m.

University to offer gender-neutral housing

The University will offer gender-neutral housing options in almost every residence hall next fall, ending a year-long push by students for the living option.

The new housing choice, which is open to all students, will allow male and female students to share either the same room or an adjacent room within a suite. Students can live in any residence hall except Strong Hall, Merriweather Hall and 2109 F Street, which are designated as female-only living options.

“I credit our students with identifying the need and urging our administration to take an in-depth look at these issues,” Peter Konwerski, the senior associate vice president and dean of students, said in a news release.

Students will have to request gender-neutral housing by selecting specific roommates, and no one will be placed in a mixed-sex room with out consenting, Univeristy spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said.

Michael Komo, a former Student Association senator and president of Allied in Pride, led a highly publicized effort last year, urging the University to implement gender-neutral housing.

“To see my hard work and the hard work of all the students involved with this process come to fruition is very meaningful,” Komo said. “GNH is extremely important to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, many of whom feel more comfortable living with someone of a different gender. However, this decision is a monumental victory for everyone – LGBT students and their straight counterparts.”

The Student Association also pushed for the housing choice last year, passing a non-biding resolution asking the University to support mixed-sex housing.  Since then, the University commissioned a committee to conduct an “extensive analysis of national best practices and solicited student, alumni and parent input on the issue,” according to a news release.

More than 50 colleges nationwide allow students to live in gender-neutral rooms. The LA Times reported that the program is gaining acceptance but participation is still low at many schools.

“While we will continue to monitor this pilot program over the next few years, I think all of our administration was pleased with the thoughtful, inclusive manner in which these discussions were conducted,” Konwerski said . “The results are hard to dispute based on what we heard from our students.”

  • Matt

    A perfect example of why students should stay active and hold people’s feet to the fire until they do what’s right!

    Thank you GW for recognizing this need.

  • Derek

    What a shame. GWU is overrun with homosexuals; I fully support their right to live together, but cant there be one or two separate dorms for people who wish to live like this, rather than incorporate into normal dorms???

  • Anon

    Derek – you’re intolerance is a disgrace. Overrun? Thats how people talk about populations of rabbits or something, not people. Clearly you don’t ‘fully support’ their right…

    I was surprised at first that this policy will be implemented for all residence halls, but I really see no problem with it. What effect does this have on you? Why does it matter to you if its one or all? If you don’t want someone of the other gender living with you, fine. You wont have access to the mixed-gender rooms and they won’t have access to yours. Suck it up. Learn what tolerance really means.

  • Bob

    Think of all the straight couples who want to move in together that will move in for one week and inevitably break up causing countless problems and relocations. I like that the thinking behind the decision but in practice it will cause more problems than its looking to solve.

  • Joshua

    Derek, your grammar is a disgrace.

  • Joshua

    Strike that, Anon’s grammar is a disgrace

  • Jared

    Derek, I didn’t know the WBC was still on campus!

    Ok, ok, don’t feed the trolls… I know…

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  • John

    Bob has a good point, what is the criteria of allowing people to do this. Straight couples will want to move in together and will break up causing even more problems when they want to move out. And also, Derek has a good point also, and everyone attacking him and saying he is “intolerant” is ridiculous. For example, the option of female only housing is only available in one dorm. I think that, though this is still good for the LGBT community, it should not be an option in every building. That is a very fair idea.

    Will it really affect me if it is an option in ever building? – No. But the fact is, this is a very special housing option, just as a female only option is, and I think Derek has a point of questioning that decision.

    Now, my question is that who gets to use this option. Is it for the LGBT community only? Is it open to everybody? I think this is a good decision but it will without a doubt cause many problems during its first year.

  • Jake

    everything causes problems during its first year. If we didn’t make changes because there were too many problems at the outset, then nothing in the world would ever change. There will be complications the first year, as there would be with anything, but in the long run, it is a good policy decision.

  • Jared

    John, I can’t tell if you’re serious or not, but….

    it’s open to everybody. FTA:
    “Students will have to request gender-neutral housing by selecting specific roommates, and no one will be placed in a mixed-sex room with out consenting.”
    So, students would only be living with people they know.

    But you knew that already — how else could you be concerned about straight couples moving in and breaking up if you really thought this was only for gay students?

    Derek isn’t questioning the decision to allow GNH in all dorms — he seems to be confused that gender-neutral housing doesn’t mean “a bunch of gay people living together.” On the contrary, all-male and all-female rooms would result in a bunch of gay people living together, and in fact, has always allowed gay men and women to move in with the people they’re dating. In that way, the forced separation of genders has actually provided an option to gay students that their straight peers haven’t had!

    And it’s not actually that special of an option. It’s kind of the same option that everybody who chooses to live off campus has.

    All female housing is concentrated in one dorm for multiple reasons, none of which apply to this situation.

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