Coming to a theater near you!

After student push, administration reverses on gender neutral housing

Written by

|

January 27, 2016

6:04 PM

Gender neutral housing was announced Wednesday, Jan. 27 in an email from Associate Director for Administration in Residence Life Katrina Pawvluk regarding room selection for the 2016-2017 school year.

According to the Residence Life website, the new housing option, which they are calling “Flexible Housing,” allows groups of upper-class or graduate students to choose to share an apartment regardless of sex, gender or gender expression. This housing option is optional and will be available in Ludwell, Cabell, Tribe Square, Nicholas and the Graduate Complex.

Flexible Housing has been instituted as a result of the work of student groups including the Residence Hall Association, William and Larry, the Lambda Alliance and the Student Assembly. Lambda and RHA circulated a survey among students in October to gauge campus perception of gender neutral housing and received a positive response, leading them to begin work on a proposal.

RHA President Marianna Stepniak ’17 said that although any upper-class student will be permitted to use Flexible Housing, it is primarily designed for transgender, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming students.

“Something we really stressed in our proposal was that so many other schools in the country and three schools in Virginia — Virginia Tech, George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University — have already done this and we thought it was time William and Mary did it too,” Glover said. “I think that’s really part of the reason for this proposal’s success.”

“Anybody can take advantage of this opportunity but the students who will most likely use the new system are people whose gender expression doesn’t match their legal sex,” Stepniak said.

The Residence Life website discourages romantic couples from using the new option to live together, but it also notes that students will not be asked why they would like to participate in the new housing option, which is similar to the language used by other universities employing a gender neutral housing program.

RHA Chair of Administrative Advocacy Sam Glover ’16 said that the students who worked on the proposal did in-depth research into the policies of other schools and implemented similar ideas into their own proposal.

“Something we really stressed in our proposal was that so many other schools in the country and three schools in Virginia — Virginia Tech, George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University — have already done this and we thought it was time William and Mary did it too,” Glover said. “I think that’s really part of the reason for this proposal’s success.”

“One of the primary things that still needs to be done is opening it up to freshmen,” Stepniak said. “I would also love to see expanding options and locations for students to have gender neutral housing.”

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of Residence Life Deb Boykin also noted the fact that an increasing number of schools are implementing gender neutral housing policies.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 5.47.23 PM

“We are excited to be able to join many other schools in the country in offering this housing option for our students,” Boykin said.

Boykin also called attention to the important role students played in creating and passing this proposal, noting the work of Stepniak and Glover as well as Juliana Santanna ’17 and Erica West ’17.

The students involved in this project said that they see the Flexible Housing policy as a step in the right direction, but not as their end goal. According to Glover, the effort for some kind of gender neutral housing has been going on for over a decade.

Both Glover and Stepniak said that their goals include expanding the availability of inclusive housing.

“One of the primary things that still needs to be done is opening it up to freshmen,” Stepniak said. “I would also love to see expanding options and locations for students to have gender neutral housing.”

Glover said that they would continue working toward more progress and advancement for more inclusive housing.

“What happened today is a good first step,” he said. “But there certainly needs to be more.”

Share This Article

Related News

Indiana Governor Mike Pence rallies in Williamsburg
SA senators called in to attendance review
After College announces purchase of Days Inn, EDA expresses discontent

About Author

Emily Chaumont

News Editor Emily Chaumont '18 is an English and Gender, Sexuality, Women's Studies double major from Manassas, Virginia. She formerly served as Variety Editor.

  • MN

    Good, put the crossdressers in a ghetto where the “men” can pee sitting down and the “women” can pee standing up without bothering anyone with their delusions but themselves.