Last April, the Policies and Facilities Committee of the Residence Hall Association (RHA) on campus proposed the idea of making the rooms in The Suites at 201 Reserve St co-ed, meaning that men and women could occupy the same room. The proposal was approved by the RHA and was then sent to RHA Director Joe Totman, Chancellor Bernie Patterson and Vice Chancellor Al Thompson.
Currently the legislation has reached something of a standstill. The proposal has been reviewed by Patterson, Thompson and Totman, but will not be put into effect for some time.
"We can’t pursue the idea at this time because we need more feedback from students," Totman said. "There are also a number of administrative details that need to be dealt with first."
Totman, who fully supports the idea of desegregating the Suites@201, says that the chancellor would like to get more information from other UW schools before trying to implement something like this. Josh Wallace, one of the members of RHA, confirmed this fact.
"The Chancellor wants to see how it would work on another campus before it is implemented," Wallace said.
One of the major issues pointed out by Wallace would be couples rooming together and then breaking up. Would other arrangements be possible? Who would get to keep the suite and who would have to move? This would pose quite the challenge to students in this situation.
"There would have to be a lot of stipulations," Wallace said.
Resident Director of the Suites, Christina Lorge-Grover, also whole-heartedly supports this proposal.
"I am totally in support of the co-ed suites. I feel like it is a great option for all our students, and helps us create and support inclusive excellence," she said. When asked if she thought it would ever become a reality, Lorge-Grover said "I believe with how supportive UWSP administration is of our students’ views that this will become a reality. I also believe our campus is dedicated to creating environments where all individuals can feel welcome."
Proposals have been made in the past regarding the desegregation of the Suites@201. The issue has been around for years, and Lorge- Grover has attended a few conferences regarding the topic.
"I was at a conference a number of years ago and the topic came up," she said. "Instead of asking ‘Why co-ed housing?’ we were saying ‘Why not?’"
Totman shares the belief that this proposal could one day be a reality.
"This is absolutely a possibility and is certainly doable," Totman said.
Totman also said that, besides a few logistics regarding room assignments, a re-proposal by RHA or the Student Government Association (SGA) could prove successful.
"If SGA or RHA were to propose this idea again with more details about how other UW schools are handling this, it would more than likely be reconsidered," he said.
Totman and Lorge-Grover both encourage students to speak up and voice their opinions about desegregating the suites. Lorge-Grover has spoken to students living in her building about the proposal.
"The students I have discussed the issue with are in support of the proposal, even if they do not wish to live in a co-ed suite. Most like the idea or like having the option available for themselves or others," she said. "They feel that co-ed suites would better mimic living off campus, and the options students have in choosing their roommates."
The RHA office is located in room 060 in the basement of the Dreyfus University Center. Students can contact the office to express their opinions and voice their ideas and concerns regarding residential living.