David Foregger ’11 sends in news that the University of Chicago is the latest to offer gender-neutral housing to its upperclasspeople students, linking to an article originally from the Chicago Tribune:
The pilot program allowing male and female students to sleep in the same room will start next month. It’s not intended for romantic couples, but they won’t be excluded because the university won’t ask students why they want to live together. The proposal was a student-led initiative, university officials said.
Coed dorm rooms are allowed at more than 30 campuses nationwide, but they have generally been socially liberal institutions, such as Wesleyan University, Oberlin College and Oregon State University. The policy is a departure at the U. of C., which has a no-nonsense, nose-in-a-book reputation.
The program won’t apply to freshmen, and students won’t need permission from their parents to live in “open housing.” A letter announcing the program went out to parents last week.
“In today’s day and age, it’s not really fair to discriminate based on gender anymore,” said Asha Woodall, 19, a sophomore at the U. of C. and a supporter of the plan. “Sexuality is more of a spectrum.”
While the University of Chicago is taking a great step forward, it’s important to note that, like at Wesleyan, there still aren’t any satisfactory options for incoming freshmen who don’t feel comfortable being automatically placed with a roommate of the same biological sex (but perhaps a different gender).
The University of Chicago is only one among many schools to change its gendered housing policy within the last year. According to genderblind.org, Northeastern also recently announced such a change.
Genderblind.org continues to remain a great resource to keep on top of gender-neutral/genderblind housing issues and news, ranging from the latest schools to adopt progressive policies to noting that “the Obama-Biden transition project has announced a non-discrimination policy that includes ‘gender identity.'” They also have a Facebook group to keep up-to-date on issues and to network with other activists.
Update (12/25): An anonymous commenter corrects me about current Wesleyan policy:
we have gender-neutral housing for frosh. any frosh can select “gender-neutral”, and then their gender will not be taken into account when determining their roommate.
Oops – guess it’s changed since I last heard anything about it a year and a half ago. Awesome!