Gender neutral housing passed at GVSU

Courtesy Photo
Gender Neutral Housing

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo Gender Neutral Housing

Joining a growing trend on campuses across the country, Grand Valley State University will offer a gender neutral housing option on the 2012 housing application.

From Harvard to Stanford, gender neutral housing has been popularized across the U.S. in response to a rise in activism in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students. GVSU students will now have the opportunity to choose a transgender option, not just male or female, when applying for student housing.

A box at the bottom of the housing application will also ask applicants if he or she requires gender neutral housing in addition to the applicant’s gender choice.

The Student Senate initially passed a resolution on March 31 in favor of gender neutral housing on campus, while a student-led Gender Neutral Housing Coalition had been actively seeking equality since early 2011. That equality was brought about a few weeks ago when GVSU announced its decision.

Previously, GVSU Housing Director Andy Beachnau said that gender neutral housing wouldn’t be a consideration at GVSU without significant student support.

Student Senate President Natalie Cleary explained that since the resolution was passed, the senate has been meeting with the administration as well as students on campus in an effort to raise awareness about what gender neutral housing is and how it will serve GVSU students.

“Our diversity affairs committee on senate will work with the Gender Neutral Housing Commission and the administration to ensure that the changes that have been made to help students who want gender neutral housing are effective,” Cleary said.

The changes made to the housing application are a direct response by the administration to take action to the need expressed by LGBT students as well, said Colette Seguin Beighley, director of the LGBT Resource Center.

“The Gender Neutral Housing option at Grand Valley came about as a result of our LGBT students expressing their housing needs to administrators,” she said.

Gender neutral housing will also provide a supportive roommate situation for LGBT students.

“It’s important for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students to be able to live with people they feel are accepting and supportive,” Seguin Beighley said. “The last place a student should feel that they have to educate others or fight for a space to be accepted is the place where they sleep. Gender neutral housing allows our LGBT students to create a living environment that will best support their personal growth and educational achievement.”

Any suite-style room on campus in one of the residence halls has the potential to be gender neutral for students applying.

While initial feedback to the changes has been positive, Cleary said that Student Senate will continue to meet with the administration and Gender Neutral Housing Coalition in order to continue to provide satisfactory living options for students.

“As feedback continues to come in we’ll continue to make sure that students get the results that they need,” she said. “We want to be a voice for students that need gender neutral housing and make sure that afterword students feel comfortable living at Grand Valley.”

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