Stanford is taking a front seat in implementing broader living options for students, starting with the recently-expanded and newly-dubbed “gender-neutral/gender-inclusive” housing.
Beginning next fall, gender-inclusive housing will be available in a variety of campus residences. Previously, what was called only “gender-neutral” housing — that is, housing that allows mixed-gender roommate pairs — was available in selected row-houses, upperclass dorms, co-op houses, and graduate housing.
For the upcoming academic year, gender-inclusive housing will be introduced into dorms including Crothers and Branner, and the popular self-op BOB. That will bring the total number of undergraduate gender-neutral/gender-inclusive non-co-op residences to eleven. All graduate student housing will receive the designation as well.
According to the Housing website, “Gender-neutral/gender-inclusive housing allows friends of different genders to be assigned to the same two-room double, suite or apartment in one of the designated residences at Stanford.”
The site states that the residences were selected for gender-neutral/gender-inclusive housing because “each residence has rooms available which allow each gender roommate to have a separate private sleeping space” and because “these houses offer additional privacy in the bathroom and shower areas.”
This year, the university decided to change the name from gender-neutral to one that includes “gender-inclusive.” Autumn Albers ’11 is a resident of Synergy, a popular gender-neutral/gender-inclusive co-op on campus. Albers said of the new term, “I like that the language is changing. They are really emphasizing that they are trying to accommodate everyone.” Albers felt that the expansion is a good direction for the University. She said that expanding into more dorms and self-ops is “making the gender-neutral housing options more attractive.” However, she felt that housing should expand the program further, stating, “It’s still very limited.“ Sam Storey ’13, shares the same opinion. Storey lives in gender-neutral housing in Terra. He stated, “I would like to see the entire campus be gender inclusive.” He added, “I would really like to see this program moved into freshman houses and more advertising for it.” Apparently, gender-inclusive housing has been available to incoming freshman for some time. However, it has not received much publicity.
Holly Fetter ’13, an active advocate for the expansion, is most excited about this aspect of the growth. She said, “I think that it could always be more obvious. I’m excited to see that [this year] it’s quite explicit whereas previously a lot of folks just didn’t know.”
The Approaching Stanford forms all incoming freshman are required to fill out now have a much more obvious indicator regarding gender-inclusive housing. According to Fetter, they must contact housing in order to inquire about the option.
There is no clear option to choose gender-inclusive housing, as there is for the ‘four-class’ or ‘all-freshman’ options. The form states that if you have a problem living with a roommate of the same gender, please contact Housing. Albers believes that “the freshman experience is very standardized.” For some reasons, she considers this to be a good thing when it comes to having RA’s, RF’s and a similar experience as your peers. However, she does not see a reason for not having as many options for freshmen housing. “I don’t think that’s something that needs to be standardized,” she said.