Gender separation

The issue of gender-neutral housing continues to be debated in universities across the nation. Currently 50 universities nationwide have some sort of policy allowing students of opposite genders to live together on campus, and GVSU is not one of those schools.

The only exception to gender-separate on-campus housing at GVSU is if the two people are married or parenting a child together, and then circumstances are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. In light of the current student body and its needs, this policy seems outdated and unfair.

Recently the LGBT community at GVSU and other schools has addressed the issue of gender-neutral housing, especially for transgender students. Transgender students may feel more comfortable and identify better with someone of the opposite gender, and so allowing them to live together would make sense. The two exceptions to gender-separate housing that GVSU currently recognizes do not take into account the needs of transgender students and how to make them most comfortable living on campus.

Other students are also hindered by the outdated policy. One reason housing may hesitate to adopt gender-neutral housing is because of the complications that can arise from living with one’s significant other. If the relationship ends, housing could be left with an increase in people seeking new living arrangements mid-semester. However, there is nothing saying they have to honor these requests. The student body is made up of adults who are capable of making decisions for themselves such as who to live with and where, and they should be prepared to live with the consequences of those decisions, even pending a break up. One variation of this would be to require dorms to remain gender-separate but allow opposite gender roommates in the on-campus apartments for upperclassmen.

Prohibiting roommates of the opposite gender in on-campus housing because of potential romantic complications that could arise also keeps opposite-gender friends from living together, who would not be faced with the same problems.

The policy also overlooks the possibility of same-sex couples living together on campus. Potentially, the same romantic problems could arise with same-sex couples, but housing does not stop them from living together.

The university does have the right to instate whatever housing policy it deems appropriate, and there are plenty of off-campus housing options for students who do not agree with the university’s standards. However, this poses a problem for students who wish to use their financial aid or scholarships toward their housing. This can only be done with on-campus apartments, and so these students are forced to comply with the current housing policy, though they may not be comfortable with a same-sex roommate.

Whether gay, straight, transgender, married or single, students should have the option to live with whomever they feel most comfortable, and the university shows an insensitivity to the plight of its students in not considering a revision of the current gender-separate housing policy.