Students respond to gender-neutral housing campaign

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Cal State Fullerton Phase II dormitories. Photo by Shruti Patel/For the Daily Titan

Since fall of 2004, a strong gender-neutral activist campaign has some colleges and universities rethinking their student housing policies to accommodate the needs of all students.

So far, about 50 schools in the United States, including a few Ivy League campuses and several schools in California, have allowed students to choose the gender of their roommate. With Cal State Fullerton housing phase III on the way, there is a chance the movement will catch on here as well.

The gender-neutral housing movement began as a response to a rise in activism in support of gay, bisexual and transgender students who feel more comfortable living with members of the opposite sex.

Jeffrey Chang, co-founder of the National Student Genderblind Campaign, told the Los Angeles Times that only an estimated 1 to 3 percent of students living on campuses with that option actually choose it.

“I cannot speculate as to what the university may do in the future, but I wouldn’t rule it out,” said CSUF Resident Community Coordinator Jason Curtis.

“As of now, sharing a room with a member of the opposite sex is not acceptable,” Curtis said.

A big problem Curtis sees with the policy is finding enough students who would want that option.

Many students are unaware of the movement that allows the freedom to not only choose who your roommate is, but to choose their gender.

According to the CSUF Student Housing Web site, when students receive their license agreement, they only have the option of requesting a person of their same gender to be their roommate.

Hannah Mae Sturges is a theater major who is in her second year living in the CSUF dorms.

“I love being able to choose my own roommate,” Sturges said. “Students who pay out of pocket should have the option of choosing whether their roommate is a guy or a girl.”

Andrew Brown, sophomore history major who is also in his second year living in the CSUF dorms, disagrees with Sturges.

“We pay to buy into their system.”

Brown said that the university has to make people happy as a whole.

“Since we are located in a highly conservative Orange County, a change like this may not go over well with the local community,” he said.

Brown does agree that having the option to choose his own roommates allows for a better fit in personality. He said he would not mind having female roommates. “Some of my best friends are girls.”

According to the Student Housing Web site, one of the goals is to provide students with an enhanced educational experience.

CSUF dorms currently house about 800 occupants and with the completion of phase III of construction, are looking to add about 1000 more vacancies.

“In most cases, the call for gender-neutral facilities comes from students – usually members of campus groups for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students,” USA Today reported.

The choice, however, has not been limited to that community. Heterosexual students have been using this freedom of choice to live with compatible roommates of the opposite sex.

CSUF students had mixed thoughts about the benefits of this possible living situation.

Both Gretchen Waldron, a musical theatre major and Zach Lewis, a civil engineering major agree that “the benefits of having a male roommate would be the same as having a female.”

Juliana Romo, a freshman nursing major who also lives in the dorms, said that having a male roommate would mean “less drama.”

Most students living in the dorms are in agreement that student housing does offer a unique experience to the college life. If the choice is up to them, students say it wouldn’t bother them to have the option.

As of now, there are no plans to implement gender-neutral housing at CSUF, but the possibility of adapting to a changing society is there.

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  • jesse mendez

    i think having a different gender in your room can be distracting.

  • jesse mendez

    i think having a different gender in your room can be distracting. i feel room mates should have a choice who they want ti live with, but this is higher learning and i think students should worry more about academics and thier careers.

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