Arousing Housing
Erik Kersting
ekers766@uwsp.edu

The Residential Housing Association wants to work with Residential Living to help make gender-neutral rooms a possibility for the future.

The idea of gender-neutral housing, or students of different genders living in the same room, often divides students.  Some see it as an issue of diversity and inclusivity and want to see it implemented on campus.  Other students see it as a hassle leading to numerous issues for students to deal with.

Phillip Bianan, a Community Adviser on campus, wishes to see gender-neutral housing in the dorms. 

“I feel that our campus should be supporting the students instead of holding onto these dated notions of what is acceptable.  People have a right to not be denied the freedom to live with the people they feel comfortable living with,” Bianan said.

Ian Hackett, a CA at May Roach Hall, sees potential problems with gender-neutral housing. 

“As a CA, the challenges I see that could arise with gender neutral housing is guys or girls only moving into this housing to live with the person they are in a relationship with. We all know how relationships can go sour in a real hurry, and as a CA having to mediate that, with them living in the same room, would be an ordeal,” Hackett said.

Some see potential problems as minimal.

“It may require additional training, but it's something that our campus is moving towards—being more conscious of the students who don't necessarily identify with their own gender. I think the CA position requires an open mind to these sorts of things,” Bianan said.

Benjamin King, student at UWSP, also worries about gender dynamics. 

“I believe gender-neutral housing should be offered to married couples, but I believe that any other gender-neutral housing could be bad. I mean, it’s so much easier for a man to put his hands on a woman, especially if she is not in a committed relationship,” King said.

Some wish gender-neutral housing to be campus wide. Bianan believes that this isn't something that should be limited to a single hall. Others believe it should be limited, similar to gender-specific floors.

“They could take one dorm and make it gender-neutral.  The way people would get in to it would be to sign up,” King said.

Danny Nessman, a percussion major, sees interest and supports the idea. 

“I definitely think students would be interested. I know from personal experience and the experiences of friends how awkward situations arise concerning significant others. This would obviously be a reasonable solution to this problem,” Nessman said.

However, Nessman also notes the potential problems.

“For one, I think most parents would be less enthused about this idea than their students. Also, the lifestyles of guys and girls can be drastically different, which may lead to tension in such a small shared place,” Nessman said.

The idea leads to heated discussion with both pragmatic and idealistic viewpoints.

“It's an inclusivity problem that needs to be solved,” Bianan said.

Bianan believes that gender-neutral housing will allow students to become more aware of the individuals around them in the halls, which are just a small-scale model of what the world looks like.  

“People will live in communities with other people who don't share the same ideas as them. It's a matter of coming to an understanding and learning tolerance,” Bianan said.