Beyond the ‘Burg: Yale launches pilot program for gender-neutral housing

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February 24, 2010

12:40 AM

Yale University is launching a pilot program that would give seniors a co-ed housing option. Members of the Yale Corporation unanimously approved the proposal Friday after reviewing a report regarding the issue from the Yale College Council.

Students selecting the option would be provided with a mixed-gender suite. Members of the opposite sex would be prohibited from residing within the same bedroom. No student would be forced to live in a mixed-gender suite, and students in romantic relationships will be discouraged from living together.

“Any reservations I had in the past are completely dissolved by this proposal,” Yale College Dean Mary Miller said to the Yale Daily News.

The program will apply to all 12 colleges of the university.

“This new housing policy will be evaluated during its first year,” Miller and Council of Masters Chair Jonathan Holloway said in an e-mail to the Yale Daily News.

Yale is the last Ivy League university to implement the option of gender-neutral housing. The YCC formed a committee in Dec. 2007 to investigate gender-neutral housing. The Council of Masters endorsed the proposal in Feb. 2009, but the option was not available for that academic year. Instead, the university created a task force to explore the option further.

Former YCC Council President and senior Rich Tao said the policy was a step in the right direction.

Along with Tao, YCC President Jon Wu, former LGBT coordinator Sophia Shapiro and director of Yale Students for Housing Equality Rachel Schiff said the program needed to be expanded to include sophomores and juniors. However, Holloway said this is unlikely, citing maturity as a concern.

“I’d be astonished if [the program] were ever opened to sophomores,” Holloway said.

Yale student Matthew Gerkin, who started the Facebook group “I Oppose Gender-Neutral Housing at Yale,” expressed disapproval.

“If gender-neutral housing becomes the norm, single-gender housing will become stigmatized and become the choice of fewer and fewer Yalies,” Gerkin said in an e-mail to the Yale Daily News. “Those with moral or religious objections will be marginalized.”

The group currently has 36 members.

“I look at it this way — finally, I can live with some of my best friends, who are of the opposite gender,” Yale student Alejandro Bustillos, a coordinator of the Lesbian, Gay, Bixexual, Transgender Cooperative, said.

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