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Posted at 8:31 PM ET, 12/ 2/2010

GWU will soon offer gender neutral housing

By Jenna Johnson
Jenna Johnson

Do you have questions about gender neutral housing? Ask them live on Thursday, Dec. 9, starting at 1 p.m.

Starting next fall, George Washington University in the District will allow male and female students to live in the same room or suite in nearly all of its residence halls. Dozens of colleges across the country have begun to offer gender neutral housing, as it is called, but usually the option is available only to upperclassmen or those living in apartment-style halls.

Allied in Pride, a LGBT student organization at GWU that led the effort and has advocated for gender-neutral housing for several years, cheered the Thursday announcement. In a statement, the group said gender neutral housing "is extremely important to LGBT 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."

Last academic year, several student organizations endorsed the idea, including the Residence Hall Association and the College Democrats. This spring the student government added its support. The university then convened a committee to study national housing trends and surveyed students, parents and alumni. That committee recommended adding the option.

The program will be "completely voluntary" and will be available in all but three halls, according to a university press release. The university plans to monitor the pilot program over the next three years. And students who opt to have a randomly assigned roommate will continue to be matched with someone of the same sex.

Gender neutral housing is offered by about 50 colleges and universities, including Stanford University, Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan. Just last month, Columbia University announced a pilot program in several of its upperclassmen halls, according to the Columbia Spectator.

In the Washington area, American University has offered coed rooms in some of its student apartments since last school year, a program that will extend to other halls next year, according to the Eagle. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County offers gender-neutral housing in two apartment-style halls, according to its housing Web site.

Meanwhile, several other colleges in the area are discussing gender neutral housing, which is also called gender blind housing.

Last month, the student senate at Georgetown University passed a resolution asking for a discussion about gender blind housing. A university spokeswoman told the Hoya student newspaper that the university does not plan to alter its housing policy but officials are willing to discuss the topic. The resolution prompted criticism from the Cardinal Newman Society, which often criticizes Georgetown and its policies, according to the student blog Vox Populi.

The student government at St. Mary's College of Maryland has passed a resolution supporting gender neutral housing, and university officials are currently gauging student feedback, according to the Point News.

At the College of William and Mary, the student assembly continues to revise a plan for gender neutral housing, but college officials have told student leaders they have no plans to allow opposite-sex students to live together, according to the Flat Hat.

Do you have questions about gender neutral housing? Ask them live on Thursday, Dec. 9, starting at 1 p.m.

Updated at 11:15 p.m. to clarify the role of the GWU Residence Hall Association vote to endorse gender-neutral housing.

Does your campus allow students of the opposite sex to room together? What do you think of gender-neutral housing programs?

Campus Overload is a daily must-read for all college students. Make sure to bookmark http://washingtonpost.com/campus-overload. You can also follow me on Twitter and fan Campus Overload on Facebook.

This post has been updated since it was first published.

By Jenna Johnson  | December 2, 2010; 8:31 PM ET
Categories:  News Overload  | Tags:  Dartmouth, George Washington, Georgetown, Stanford  
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Comments

What's the point of "gender neutral" housing? Why would any woman in her right mind want to share a dorm room with a male student? The vast majority of male students live like pigs, and would expect the woman to clean up after them, just as their mothers (or nannies or housekeepers) did. Ugh, no way would I want this.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | December 3, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

WashingtonDame, your sweeping generalization about men does absolutely nothing to improve gender equality.

I'll admit that the dorms of many young men are very messy. However, my personal observations while in college were that just as many young women were just as slobbish - if not worse. (Personally, as a girl, my apartment is worse than the homes of my male friends.)

Furthermore, you overlook the real points of providing gender-neutral housing (one of the biggest of which is LBGT equality) and "dumb down" the article and the issue because you see all men as slobs.

And personally? I'd rather live with a total pig than with someone as willfully ignorant as you are.

Posted by: georgetownred | December 3, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

So, I was not a pig as an undergrad. And I actually lived off campus for a year with another woman. We did not engage in any "activity", we were simply very good friends. Neither one of us was a homosexual, either. Sometimes this kind of thing can work well. Though, I will admit, there will be plenty of guys very willing to do this for less than legit reasons...

Posted by: law3 | December 3, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I completely agree georgetownred. I myself am a female and have lived with other females who have absolutely no idea how to clean a dish. I think it is wonderful that GWU is offering gender neutral housing for its students. As long as the parents and the school officials think it is okay, who are we to judge?

When I was at school, same sex random room placement made my LGBT friends have a very hard time coming out to their new roommates, for fear that they would ask for a room change. Many ended up living with the opposite sex during their later years because it felt easier.

I am all for this change! :)

Posted by: numbersonthebrain | December 3, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

What's the point of "gender neutral" housing?--WashingtonDame
------------------------------------

The point is simple: To allow adults to voluntarily choose their roommates, regardless of gender.

Posted by: Greent | December 3, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Jenna, your story is incorrect, the University of Michigan does not offer gender neutral housing. It is an issue that is currently being discussed and groups have endorsed it, but it has not been approved nor is it offered in any residence hall at the University of Michigan.

Posted by: ndovzan | December 3, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

WashingtonDame is notorious troll/thread hijacker. No one is forcing anyone to live in gender neutral housing at GW.

Posted by: thebuckguy | December 3, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

@ndovzan: According to several sources, including the University of Michigan's own Web site, the school offers some form of gender-neutral housing. Here's a page on the housing Web site on the topic: http://www.housing.umich.edu/node/955

Posted by: Jenna Johnson | December 3, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

My college adopted gender neutral housing a while ago, and I had an opposite sex roommate for a semester in college. I am a straight woman, my roommate was a straight male, there was nothing romantic about it - my old roommate moved out and I preferred having a friend move in, regardless of gender, to being randomly assigned a new female roommate. Gotta say, he was cleaner than most women I've lived with.

Posted by: liz222444 | December 3, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

About time. While I was an administrator at GW, some 20 years ago, it was not unusual for two couples to arrange 'side by side' rooms. Then one guy and one gal simply swapped beds. Officially they lived in their assigned rooms but since no modern University performs 'bed checks' so it didn't matter.

Posted by: commonsense101 | December 3, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't the room set-up really control the reasonableness of co-ed rooms? If there is a room with 2 beds and a hall bathroom - there would be no privacy at all. Conversely, if there are separate bedrooms in apartment style housing, then mixed sex makes more sense.

If it's one room - 2 beds - no privacy, then this will last until the first lawsuit for "roommate rape." GMU will be liable, and single-sex rooms will return.

Posted by: Amelia5 | December 3, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I went to George Mason University, and we had "Gender-Neutral Dorms" (if that's what they call them now...) since I came in as a freshmen. All 4 years I lived on Campus I lived in a dorm that housed both men and women on the same floors. There were still dorms that were men only or women only, but that was only in certain freshmen dorms.

I think its amazing that in this day and age people would be against such a concept.

Posted by: bkj216 | December 3, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

"WashingtonDame is notorious troll/thread hijacker. No one is forcing anyone to live in gender neutral housing at GW.

Posted by: thebuckguy | December 3, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse"

Let me translate this internet-speak into English:

"WashingtonDame is an intelligent, educated, articulate poster with whom I never agree. Therefore, I am forced to resort to ad hominem insults and false accusations."

Posted by: WashingtonDame | December 3, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Well, I wouldn't say your post expressed a particularly intelligent point of view, WD, but I'll admit it's a realistic one. I'm a guy, and I lived with guys in college, and guys are disgusting. I tried by best to keep things clean, I really did, but oy vey! Was it EVER a sisyphean task! I'd bet that very few female students sign up for this.

Posted by: joshlct | December 3, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't the room set-up really control the reasonableness of co-ed rooms? If there is a room with 2 beds and a hall bathroom - there would be no privacy at all. Conversely, if there are separate bedrooms in apartment style housing, then mixed sex makes more sense.

If it's one room - 2 beds - no privacy, then this will last until the first lawsuit for "roommate rape." GMU will be liable, and single-sex rooms will return.
-------------------------------------------

I believe 95% of GWU housing is apartment style, even the freshman dorms are apartment style.

But as this is VOLUNTARY, then the roommates know each other, and how to deal with privacy and messiness issues is something they would work out as adults. I know I did, when someone wanted to hook up, or someone wanted to study, or we had to clean - we all worked it out.. as adults.

Rape is rape, and has nothing to do with roommates.

With all my roommates - and I have had plenty - the 2 messiest were 1 guy and 1 girl. Slobbiness is not gender specific.

Posted by: Greent | December 3, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

You've come a long way.......
when i graduated GW.. we were the first to have coed dorms..
my age is showing.

Posted by: pdv1 | December 3, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

No more "parietal hours" either for visiting...although I laugh at the thought of Thurston Hall as "apt style" with 3 or 4 bodies jammed into small rooms. And for this the fee is over $50,000 a year! No problem from me to choose your own roomies - male or female, as long as you choose, not assigned. Which, I believe, is the idea. Some rooms/apts would work better than others. Are Mitchell and Strong still single sex?

Posted by: whytehs | December 3, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Why would a homosexual man feel uncomfortable being quartered in the same dorm room as a heterosexual man or a lesbian or bisexual woman feel uncomfortable being quartered in the same dorm room as a heterosexual woman? They have a problem of intolerance toward seeing someone of their own gender who doesn't favor their lifestyle or something, so they'd rather be around an opposite sex roommate to avoid that? If so, sounds like maybe they need gender sensitivity training to get over their own intolerance.

Posted by: SCOTSGUARDS | December 3, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Or to put it another way, for what reason, as the article claims, would a lesbian woman feel uncomfortable having a heterosexual female dorm roommate?

Posted by: SCOTSGUARDS | December 3, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

In college it was always a painful experience to argue about my gender to the university I went to when the subject of dorm living came up. As a TV/TS girl I could not live with a man. What a crazy idea that was.

Posted by: bsarena | December 4, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Now let me get this straight. A gay organization is behind the movement for "gender neutral" housing because homosexuals might be move comfortable with a room mate of the opposite sex. Am I right so far? Okay, now why should gays be in the military where they would sleep, eat, shower, etc. with members of the same sex. More PC crap.

Posted by: edwinwhite78 | December 4, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

May I humbly ask your consideration and tolerance for a different point of view?

If you are in your adolescent years to early adulthood (12-24) you are hearing this "LGBT" term presented as if it a long established societal classification. In fact, it is a very recent moniker that is the latest in a 15-20 year public relations effort. At it's core, this ideology seeks to legitimize identifying members of our society based upon their sexual identity.

The "L" and "G" part of this abbreviation are otherwise and more clinically known as homosexuals. These individuals have been the real drivers of this societal movement. They have fought for legitimacy, equal rights and society acceptance and have recently found momentum by federating with two other sexuality-is-self groups, "bisexuals" and "transgendered."

All of these individuals hold to the teaching that (a) sexual identity is one of, if not the most important, identity traits, and (b) this "orientation," formerly known by terms such as "lust," "desire," "proclivity," etc. is paramount to one's race and deserves the same societal rights as race.

Interestingly and curiously, this movement has not sought to federate with other sexual orientations such as pedophiles, necrophiliacs, those who engage in bestiality, sadomasochists, et al. Most, not all, of these behaviors are illegal. Some involve the consent of only one participant. Nonetheless, by definition, these all are sexual orientations and we have no scientific data to support that whatever causes them to exist, whether genetics, environment or both, renders any of these less an "orientation" than the other. Homosexuality, in the last 15-20 years in various states, has gone from being illegal to legal. Pedophilia remains illegal despite an ongoing lobbying effort by organizations such as NMBLA.

And so, this federated movement has mounted a well-organized PR campaign. It enjoys a natural affinity with and extraordinary support from the creative community (film, television, theatre, literary, etc.). Their sexuality narrative has become the default position and any challenge to it is regarded as, well, "hate speech." And because these media are in their control, we see a disproportionate scripting of sexual-identity content. The only place most Americans actually encounter the "LGBT" topic on a daily basis is in media form. For most, it's either non-existent or so background as not to be present.

[CONTINUED - See Part 2 of 2]

Posted by: toldyouso123 | December 4, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

CONTINUED - PART 2 OF 2

For instance, "bullying" has become the most recent topical vehicle where the movement has co-opted the discussion and dominated the narrative. By invoking a "victim" mentality, the public predictably empathizes with the "underdog" and defends those who are persecuted simply for being "who they are." The truth is, bullying has always been with us and many more instances of bullying occur that do not involve sexual-indentity issues. It is disingenuous, but effective, to leverage a high-profile suicide to infer that bullying is uniquely a "LGBT" issue. As the homosexual population of the US is a very small percentage - the highest (undocumented) percentage being 5% - to ignore the bullying in the other 95-98% of the population is very dangerous.

My appeal to you is this: If you are an individual who is striving to identify yourself based upon your sexual identity, you are on a destructive path on several levels. Since the homosexual movement enjoys projecting their identity equal to racial identity, it would be wise to take a lesson from the historical arc of the civil rights movement. Those who fought for racial equality (a nobel cause, btw) have learned that if they use the equality they have attained (their ability to be President of the US, for instance) to continue to separate themselves, then they have only traded one version of segregation for another. And so it goes for so-called "Sexual Identity."

Please do not consign your future, your physical and mental health and your life potential so that a "movement" can add you to its ranks. It will always be more important for you to stand up for yourself. You should not strive to "be who you are." Where's the personal growth and development in that? Instead, be who you can become.

Finally, you're about to see a torrent of intolerance and vitriol in response to my post but know this: YOU HAVE A CHOICE to make for YOURSELF. Do not seek comfort in this bogus "LGBT" movement. It is empty, will leave you devastated and will lead you down a path of destruction. Contrary to their latest slogan, it does NOT get better!!

You only get ONE life, my friends, only ONE life.

PS: Please do not infer, or let others tell you, that my above statements are hateful. I do not hate any human being. I do, however, hate the ideologies and behaviors that destroy people rather than build them up.

Posted by: toldyouso123 | December 4, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Toldyouso-- While I completely disagree with what you're saying, you presented it in a fairly intelligent format, and that's rare enough on the internet to deserve a thank you. That aside, you seem to be under the impression that the LGBT community defines itself by sexual perversions, not love.
That said...
While there are members of the LGBT community that do define themselves by their sexual nature (which, personally, I find nothing wrong with, and I'm not sure why you feel the need to ), the percentage is no greater than those in heterosexual relationships who do the same thing. A woman falling in love with a woman, or a man with a man, is not a sexual perversion--it's just as rare and beautiful as any heterosexual romance, and oftentimes carries a far greater risk with it. We don't define ourselves by who we love. You define us by who we love. There is an enormous difference.
Dangerous, you called it, and you're right, but not for the reasons you claim. The LGBT are estranged from society because of people like you, who hold the belief that it's "wrong" without any real reason as to why. Telling a person that they have no right to marry, no right to be a person at all, does so much more damage than sexual orientation. When two men fall in love, they risk losing their families, their friends, their jobs, even their lives, because of people like you. Often, heterosexuals risk only their hearts.

Posted by: allielewis713 | December 6, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

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