Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gender-Neutral Housing, a Necessary Option

Image is via flikr

It is fitting for the SA to be debating about gender-neutral housing when iHousing, the online portal used for GW-housing assignments, is just around the corner.

The Hatchet has been reporting on this vote, sponsored by Michael Komo, for a few weeks now, keeping GW updated on the issue. A few opinions have been given on the matter, but I felt that I should offer up my own.

Firstly, though its created much debate, SA passing the bill does not translate into gender-neutral housing becoming a reality.

The Hatchet reports,

that Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak said “the concept of gender-neutral rooms for unmarried undergraduates is not under active consideration."

Putting aside the moral debates for a minute, which are of personal, not University, concern, I feel that the University needs to offer gender-neutral housing in the near future. There needs to be comfortable and safe living situations for students who identify as gay, lesbian or transgender.

But the implementation would also benefit students who feel they’d be more comfortable living with their friends of the opposite sex, like so many students do, come junior and senior year, off-campus.

And as for the claim that gender-neutral housing would encourage romantically involved students to live together, one only needs to look at this occurrence off-campus for the “answer.” Living together is certainly a possibility for couples, off campus, yet many serious couples still chose to live separately as upperclassmen.

Students’ parents pay at least a portion of most Colonials’ housing while still enrolled in college, which adds another dimension to this possibility of couples living together. Parents, therefore, will often act as the final say as to whether or not they will allow their son or daughter to live with their girlfriend or boyfriend.

But even if a couple chooses to live together, it is not the University’s responsibility to vet or judge whether or not this should be allowed. Legally, we are all adults. Most of us have been since CI. It is our responsibility to make informed decisions for ourselves, and to understand the ramifications of our actions.

Gender neutral housing is a good idea for many reasons, and though not going to happen for this coming fall, I think it should be highly considered by the University for the 2011-2012 school year. And for all the opponents, I offer an easy solution: don’t choose to live in a co-ed room.

Click here for one mother’s struggle with her daughter’s decision to live in a co-ed room.

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