Gender-neutral housing options a possibility in near future

Illustration by Rachel Razza

Residential Education and Housing will consider the opinions of students, student organizations and staff members to determine the feasibility of offering gender-neutral housing at the College, according to Ryan Farnkopf, the director of housing.

“As the first step in this process, we’ve identified a number of students with whom (Residential Education) will work closely next year to identify challenges and determine how best to make this option available during future room selection processes,” Farnkopf said in an e-mail.

Gender-neutral housing will be considered for the 2012-2013 academic year and, if it is offered, it will be offered only to interested sophomores and upperclassmen. Residential Education will also need to identify any additional restrictions a gender-neutral living community would require, as well as student programming needs and awareness in the greater residential or academic community.

After Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi took his life after his roommate filmed him taking part in a sexual act with another male student last semester, the school announced that it would implement a trial period of mixed-gender dorm rooms. Princeton University implemented this option for students as of the fall 2010 semester, now currently having gender-neutral housing in one of its dormitories, which consists of four single bedrooms and a common living room and kitchen.

According to Farnkopf, the Residential Education office has received a number of requests during the past five years to relax the gender restrictions for housing. While no student would be forced to live in a gender-neutral housing community, the College hopes to offer this type of living situation as an option in the near future. No information can be released at this time to determine a student’s building or room assignment within the gender-neutral housing, according to Farnkopk.

“Residential Education and Housing is committed to creating a gender-neutral housing program,” Farnkopf said. “This is a topic about which I feel passionate.”

Residential Edication and Housing will be able to provide students with more information after the fall 2011 semester.

Alyssa Mease can be reached at mease2@tcnj.edu.