Housing expands gender-neutral option to residential colleges
Undergraduate Housing has expanded the gender-neutral housing option into the residential colleges for the first time, according to the 2013 Undergraduate Room Draw Guide. The option, which allows students of different genders to live together, will now be available to rising sophomores, juniors and seniors in the residential college draws in addition to the draw already available in upperclass dormitories.
The move follows last year’s expansion of gender-neutral housing for upperclassmen to 278 beds in Spelman, Scully, Foulke and 1901-Laughlin dormitories for the 2012-13 academic year.
“We have seen growing interest in gender-neutral housing over the last three years,” University spokesperson Martin Mbugua said, adding that the new policy is "a continuation of the work that has gone into providing this option" over the past few years.
Adi Rajagopalan ’13, outgoing chair of the Undergraduate Life Committee — a joint committee consisting of members of the USG and the administration — said that ULC’s work with the Princeton Equality Project and the LGBT Center's LGBT Task Force on housing expansion for gender-neutral rooms culminated last spring.
In October 2012, student leaders said that they were working with the University administration to expand the gender-neutral housing program to all upperclassmen rooms in the future.
“A lot of the work happened more last year than in previous years,” Rajagopalan said. “[Gender-neutral housing] wasn’t necessarily something that every student wanted, but there was definitely a sizable number of students who wanted it.”
PEP, an LGBT activism student organization, was one of the campus groups most supportive of the expansion. PEP gender-neutral housing project manager and the previous Recruitment Chair Emily VanderLinden ’13 called the newly announced housing option “a really positive step forward.”
“We’re really excited to see the continuing expansion — to see the option of living with a roommate, no matter their gender, be open to every student on campus,” VanderLinden said.
Whereas previous expansions of gender-neutral housing were only introduced to upperclassmen, Undergraduate Housing will also offer gender-neutral rooms to rising sophomores in the 2013-14 academic year. VanderLinden called this addition to the expanded gender-neutral housing option a “great future step.”
In fall 2011, PEP introduced a petition calling for the expansion of gender-neutral housing to any dormitory floor that was currently co-ed after the successful implementation of a mixed-gender pilot program in Spelman during the 2010-11 academic year.
“I think it was the little bit of a nudge that convinced housing that they did have a student body backing on this,” VanderLinden said.
There will be no special procedure for students to select the gender-neutral housing option, Mbugua explained. The locations of the gender-neutral rooms have not yet been finalized.
The 2013 Room Draw Guide was released by Housing early on Monday, stating that gender-neutral rooms on campus, including the new option in residential colleges, will be displayed in the available rooms list. The available rooms list will be released in mid-March.