Administration announces coed housing option
The pilot program will permit gender-neutral occupancy in the apartment-style rooms of the Spelman halls, and the requirement that draw groups for Spelman must have four students of the same gender will be eliminated. The program is not expected to affect any other dorms during its first year.
Though the Graduate School launched a pilot program in the 2008-09 academic year that introduced gender-neutral housing for graduate students, a similar option does not currently exist for undergraduates.
“The pilot will allow students to explore a full range of housing options in a collegial atmosphere, whether they decide to live on or off campus,” Dickerson said. “The choices also reflect the same options that our students will face as young adults when they graduate. Our goal is to provide a variety of housing as well as dining options for our students so that everyone may feel that they have an array of excellent lifestyle choices.”
The USG’s Undergraduate Life Committee (ULC) approved the plan earlier this school year, and the plan was endorsed earlier this week by the six residential college masters, according to Emily Rutherford ’12, who broke the story on her blog, Campus Progress, on Wednesday morning. Rutherford had helped to draft the ULC’s proposal.
Rutherford said that when she discussed the proposal with administrators, “I was pleased by … how little objection there was”
“They picked out potential problems … but there was no one saying this was the wrong thing to do,” she added
LGBT Center director Debra Bazarsky said the decision would be an important step forward for the University. “I am glad to hear that Princeton has moved in the direction to offer a pilot program for gender-free housing for undergraduate students,” she said in an e-mail. “This will have positive outcomes for transgender and genderqueer students as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual students. Princeton is behind most of its peer institutions in piloting this type of program, and I look forward to seeing how it works in its first year.”
Harvard, Stanford, Brown and the Penn all offer gender-neutral housing. Yale formed a committee last year to consider gender-neutral housing, but announced in March that it was delaying a final decision.
“It only affects a very small percentage of Princeton students, and I don’t think that Princeton students on the whole will have issues with the initiative,” ULC chair Arthur Levy ’10 said in an e-mail.
The ULC first put forth a proposal on the topic two years ago “in recognition that there are some upperclass students for whom this option would be more comfortable and appealing,” Dickerson said. “We were not able to address a proposal at that time because several other features of the four-year residential college program needed to be implemented before it was feasible to consider a new housing option.”
Levy said that at least half of the members of mixed-gender draw groups — like all Spelman draw groups — must be unaffiliated with an eating club.
Mixed-gender housing groups will not be given any preference over other groups in Spelman room draw, USG president Connor Diemand-Yauman ’10 said in an e-mail to the student body Wednesday evening.
“By comparing Spelman’s gender-neutral housing policy with the same-gender roommate system in other buildings and broadly soliciting student input about the strengths and weaknesses of the system, it will be possible to evaluate the success of the program, as well as whether it should be continued and/or expanded in future,” he added.