By Meagan L’Heureux,
For the 2013-2014 school year UMF will have gender neutral rooms on first floor of Mallet.
“It’s a student driven decision,” said Brian Ufford, the director for housing and residence life, “It is important for students to have a say in what takes place in their campus and how their resident hall themes are decided.”
The Campus Resident Counsel (CRC) president presented the proposal to the President’s Council. A pilot gender neutral floor was accepted in president Theo’s time, Ufford said.
This is based on demand, he said. “In my eight years at this school, there have always been some requests.”
The reason students are seeking gender neutral housing is because it provides some of the same options as students would have in an apartment. It would also be comforting to our LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community. Some siblings also prefer gender neutral dorms, Ufford said.
Ufford did a lot of research about gender neutral dorms. “In large,” he said, “it has been very successful in other Universities that have done it.”
So far no one has complained about the gender neutral floor of Mallet, but “it’s not really huge yet,” explained Ufford. Ufford is expecting fallout. Other school’s parents are apprehensive about it, he said, as well as other students.
“I don’t think it matters,” said Rachel Purgiel, a senior at UMF. “I feel the demographic that this option will appeal to is couples, which isn’t a problem, the only problem that will arise in my opinion is with the parents,” she continued, “I just feel there is going to be a lot of room changes if couples break up.”
“There is a lot of excitement this brings us, as an institution, and chances are more likely then not returning students would live in this community because of the way room selection goes,” said Ufford.
The first floor of Mallet is going to start out with 15 rooms being gender neutral, Ufford said, so that means about 30 people will have opposite sex roommates.
“Not a random placement of people,” said Ufford. When registering for the dorms, a student who wants to be in a gender neutral residence hall will have to state that. That student will also have to write in the name of the person he or she wants to room with, and the other person will have to write in their name too.
“People seem to be excited about it,” Ufford said, and if it works well it might get expanded.
Right now the first floor of Mallet is the writers nook, but the writers nook is in high demand, so it needs to expand. Ufford believes this works out perfectly because gender neutral rooms can take the writers’ nook’s place, while the nook moves into a bigger location with more rooms.
The University is not expecting every room on Mallet first floor to be filled gender neutral, said Ufford, and it is not a prerequisite.