A recent open-housing policy at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, inspired by American, Brown and Brandeis Universities, allows students to room with someone of the opposite sex.
This policy is designed to combat cissexual-centered and heteronormative thinking and give students the opportunity to dorm based off of self-identification. Students will only be entered into the program if they opt into it.
Of the 18 students currently living on the open-housing floor, only two students of the opposite sex are rooming together. The floor has one gender-neutral shower and bathroom.
In 2010, the college’s administration began looking into the option of open-housing, but was delayed by pervasive mold in some of the dorms. Last academic year, the presidential cabinet finally approved the policy. Since its implementation, the reception has been positive overall. It has even motivated some students to consider coming to St. Mary’s.
In 2010, GUSA passed a resolution which opened the discussion of a pilot Gender-Blind Housing Program with administrators. The legislation was designed to accommodate to the needs of LGBTQ students. The resolution was inspired after harassment and suicide attempts at other universities because these students were not accepted because of their sexual orientation.
It’s not just the mold in our dorms that’s stopping Georgetown from creating gender-neutral housing, however: despite pressure by various student groups, Georgetown’s Catholic identity has kept it from allowing gender-neutral housing and restrooms. Catholic universities in general do not seem to be moving towards more open housing policies any time soon. John Garvey, president of Catholic University, spoke out against gender-neutral housing, stating that it would lead to an increase in sexual activity.
However at Georgetown, those students who put in a request for special accommodations at the beginning of the year are placed in a single with a private bathroom to ensure that they are comfortable in their own living environment.
Photo: mrgarethm via Flickr