By Meghan Rowe, Staff Writer
University of Maine Farmington (UMF) implemented gender inclusive housing on the first floor of
Mallett residence hall this school year, of 2013-2014, and they are looking to expand its gender inclusive
housing in the upcoming academic school year.
Brian Ufford, the Director of Residence Life and Housing, at UMF for the past five years, with
experience in the field since 1988 said, “It’s being expanded next year to, at this point, for sure, all of
FAB–Francis Allen Black Hall–and it will stay at first floor of Mallett as well.”
Gender inclusive housing means that two people, regardless of gender identification or relationship
status, may live together by request only. What this means for the faculty at Student Life is that they see
two people, regardless of their gender, who wish to live together and are accepting of that.
Gender inclusive housing was piloted in Fall 2013 for the first time on UMF’s campus. Currently,
there are approximately 10 rooms with the inclusive guidelines. “It’s very popular, gender neutral, it
filled up probably the first 20 minutes of the room selection process,” said Ufford. The high demand
from the student body is one reason gender inclusive housing is being expanded on campus.
“It came up as a suggestion, and we want to retain people on campus, and we want to give people
opportunities for living environments that they might have off campus already because a lot of people live
with a significant other or a different gender off campus,” said Ufford, “and it’s important that we offer
those same things on campus–it was just important that we keep those opportunities alive.”
Two years ago, The Alliance, an LGBTQ support group at UMF, showed a desire to provide gender
inclusive housing on campus. Students in The Alliance worked with Maya Kasper for not just the
LGBTQ students but the student body at large. Campus Residence Council drafted a proposal after much
background research was conducted, including calling to colleges such as Gettysburg College, who had
already adopted the concept campus wide. CRC then put the proposal through to the President’s council
where Theo Kalikow happened to be President at the time, and passed the proposal.
James Maloney-Hawkins, a Junior majoring in Secondary Education Science and also the CA of
Mallett first floor expressed that “it’s no different from a normal dorm from what I can tell. I was
expecting a lot of roommate issues but they seem to sort it out on their own.” He also shared that it’s
mostly all couples and although a root of the existence for the themed housing was The Alliance, the
student body at large made a push for it because it didn’t seem fair that gay or lesbian students could live
with significant others but straight couples could not.
Many individuals are surprised at the fact that zero complaints have been made about the housing
situation due to the fact that living with a significant other is similar to living with a close friend which,
in the past, has brought up issues for Student Life because it can redefine friendships. No concerns
have thus far risen, “which has been wonderful,” said Ufford. The only conflict in the concept so far
seems to be parent to child concerns where parents are not willing to accept that their child is living with
the opposite gender, but no student is placed in the housing without personal request therefor parent
unhappiness with it is not a concern of the school’s.
“It is going great. The only issues I’ve encountered so far are just like every other housing situation,
like sometimes people are loud or there’s hair in the shower. None of the problems relate to anyone’s
gender,” shared Adam Hewins, a transgender resident of Maloney-Hawkins, in a recent email interview.
The themed housing has an exceptionally high retention level. The reason students leave, if they do,
is typically due to personal reasons such as student teaching and not gender inclusiveness. Given the
success of the program, many residents and staff in Housing and Residence Life agree with CA Maloney-
Hawkins who wonders, “I don’t know why we just don’t go campus wide.”