Student leaders are working with administration to look into expanding the growing gender-neutral housing program to all upperclassmen rooms in future years. The Princeton Equality Project, an LGBT activism student organization, is one of the strongest advocates on campus for the change. The Undergraduate Life Committee, a joint USG-administration committee, has considered the proposal, ULC chair Adi Rajagopalan ’13 confirmed.
In addition, the ULC discussed expanding the gender-neutral housing option just to all upperclassmen and making no changes to underclassman housing in the residential colleges.
The Housing Office created space for 278 upperclassmen to live in gender-neutral housing in Spelman, Scully, 1901-Laughlin and Foulke dormitories for the 2012-13 academic year. The change followed a pilot program that created nine gender-neutral units in Spelman in the 2010-11 school year.
Associate Director for Student Housing Lisa DePaul declined to comment on whether such discussions had ever taken place within the Housing department.
“I don’t know if in other circles it came up,” she said.
Giving all students the option to live in gender-neutral housing is a goal of PEP, according to PEP recruitment chair Emily VanderLinden ’13. PEP will begin an official “campaign” at the end of the year, following last fall’s petition that demonstrated student support for gender-neutral housing. Until the campaign begins, the organization has been focusing its attention on LGBT Awareness Week and freshman recruitment.
VanderLinden emphasized that such an expansion would not force any student to live with another person of a different gender, but rather would not force a roommate of the same gender upon a person who did not want it.
“We just want people to have all of the options open to them,” she said.
According to Rajagopalan, various surveys conducted by the both the USG and Housing shows that many campus community members voiced philosophical, religious and moral objections to the idea of students of different genders living together.
“Princeton is a school where people come from all different backgrounds,” he said. “People just have moral differences, and that’s something that Housing has to think about.”
VanderLinden, however, said that it is a personal choice and students should be able to choose their roommates regardless of their gender.
“It’s very personal,” she said. “If you don’t want to live in a room with someone of a different gender, then don’t.”
Although VanderLinden said she would like to see more progress, she said that the University is moving as quickly as possible while being “institutionally responsible.” Rajagopalan attributed much of the delay to the lack of survey data available, as the program is still in its early stages.
“Whenever you change policy, you want to get data … before you take the next step,” he said.
Although he said that there seems to be general support on campus for gender-neutral housing, the USG will be waiting to see “what students want for gender-neutral housing” before pushing for any recommendations.
DePaul confirmed that no further developments have been made since last year, but said discussions will continue.
“Housing continues to work closely with the ULC, the Vice President for Campus Life, and [the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students], and we’ll continue having discussions on what the program for the expansion of gender-neutral housing might be in the future.”
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/10/17/31555/