Campus / News / April 1, 2009

Knox to offer gender-neutral housing next year

Next year Knox will offer gender-neutral housing next year

Knox to become part of the growing trend of schools offering gender-neutral housing

Amanda White

The Knox Student

Colleges across the United States have begun to add gender-neutral housing as another housing option. In 2007, there were only 30 gender-neutral campuses. In 2008, that number went up to fifty-six, an 86 percent increase in one year. Starting in the 2009-2010 school year, Knox will offer gender-neutral housing.

Clark University in Worcester, Mass. began offering gender-neutral housing in August 2007. Kevin Forti, Residential Life and Housing Director, said, “We only have about 20 students per year live with members of the opposite sex. We have not had any of them request room changes, to my recollection.” They also did not see any impact on donations from alumni. “The upside is students who don’t feel comfortable living with the same sex now have another housing option, aside from the traditional roommate,” Forti said.

At Knox, the issue of gender-neutral housing was student initiated. It passed Student Senate through the Residential Quality of Life Committee. Senior Michael Leon initiated getting gender-neutral housing at Knox.

“It wasn’t a question of why would you have it, [but] more why wouldn’t you have it,” Leon said. Not having a gender-neutral housing option felt as though it was discrimination. For Leon, having gender-neutral housing felt like it fit Knox.

“Only 75 people went through general lottery. Therefore, this issue is not going to affect a lot of people,” Leon said. The only problem Leon thinks could happen is that the issue could possibly deter students who visit. Leon said those students probably would not fit in at Knox.

Although nothing is set in stone yet, the new housing option will be available to upperclassman only. Gender-neutral housing will be part of special interest housing during the housing lottery.

Craig Southern, Associate Dean of Students for Residential Learning, said, “I will never mix gender-neutral and single sex housing unless asked to, for those uncomfortable with the idea.” Southern believes that it will be popular for the first few years, but then become just another living arrangement.

Sam Jarvis, senior, said, “I don’t think it will be used a lot.” It is similar to co-ed dorms where there can be ten students with only one bathroom. Anjali Pattanayak, senior, said, “Students have always done this unofficially.” Having the option to live together is more like real life. For couples willing to live together, they are more likely to work issues out.

“Who and where we live, we are responsible for our actions. Bottom line, we are adults,” Pattanayak said.

Amanda White

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