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OSU sticking with same-sex housing

Joe Podelco / Photo editor

After Ohio University decided to pursue a yearlong experiment allowing a number of men and women to live together in dorms beginning next fall, Ohio State has no plans to do the same.

“As of now our housing department said they have no plans of looking into gender-neutral housing,” said Ruth Gerstner, OSU Office of Student Life spokeswoman.

Undergraduate Student Government President Micah Kamrass told The Lantern Jan. 28 that he brought up the issue of gender-neutral housing to several administrators when he heard OU was interested in doing the housing trial.

“I really hope we look into it,” Kamrass said. “From what I’ve been reading, it’s becoming a trend nationwide, especially at smaller schools, particularly liberal arts colleges.”

OU President Roderick J. McDavis approved the housing experiment Jan. 11 after student activists had been pushing for it since the beginning of the school year.

These activists pushed gender-neutral housing as a way to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) students feel more comfortable living on campus, according to a Jan. 18 article in The Post, OU’s student newspaper.

Kamrass said he has tried to learn a lot about the LGBT community at OSU.

“I’ve talked to a few transgender students who have told me they don’t really feel comfortable in our residence halls,” Kamrass said. “They said it’s not clear which bathroom they should be in and which gender their roommate should be.”

According to OU’s housing website, the experiment will include about 50 students and there will be multiple gender-neutral housing communities.

The website also said gender-neutral housing is open to all upperclassmen and only to first-year students who contact Residential Housing directly.

Being placed in a gender-neutral dorm will not cost students more money. Students must choose to be a part of the experiment and will not be chosen at random, the website said.

William Miller, a third-year in finance, said he would choose gender-neutral housing if OSU offered it.

“I think it’s a really great idea,” Miller said. “In fact, next year I’m thinking about living with a girl that I went to high school with. The idea is that it’s our choice.”

Carly Kehn, a first-year in sports and leisure studies, said she was unsure about the program for OSU.

“I think it may be able to work,” Kehn said. “It would be tough because guys and girls don’t think alike and live differently. Also, couples living together may be a bad situation.”

OU’s website said the housing is not intended for couples, just for those who do not feel comfortable in current housing options.

Ongoing training is being planned for staff and students who will be able to live in Smith Hall if they elect coed housing at OU.

As part of the experiment, staff members will talk with students who chose the gender-neutral option at the beginning, middle and end of fall quarter to assess the program and will continue, alter or discontinue the option accordingly.


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