By Grace Hatch, Staff Writer
The first floor of Mallet residence hall at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) is offering a brand new gender-neutral housing programstarting next semester, meaning that males and females can live together in the same room.
James Maloney-Hawkins, a sophomore at UMF, is going to be the community assistant (CA) for the gender-neutral floor in Mallet. Maloney-Hawkins is currently a CA in Scott West but this will be a new experience for him.
“I was just placed there. I had no preference for any residence hall because I would rock the position no matter what,” said Maloney-Hawkins, “It made sense though because of my involvement with the Campus Residence Council [as a] Public Relations Officer during the process of getting it passed; being familiar with the concept.”
This will be a new challenge for Maloney-Hawkins but he is confident that while this position will present some adversities, it will ultimately be a positive experience.
“I have been anticipating the worst, but with every CA position you have to deal with the most common and obscure problems, all of which shouldn’t change from hall to hall,” said Maloney-Hawkins.
Brian Ufford, the Director of Housing and Residence Life at UMF, was on the committee that decided to incorporate gender-neutral housing into the UMF policy.
“The Gender-Neutral Housing Floor was created based on student interest,” said Ufford, “The creation of this community began several years ago but was finally brought into being by the Campus Residence Council.”
There are many themed residence halls on campus, all created by student interest, such as honors, education, athletics and substance-free. Mallet first floor is a non-themed community because the housing and residence life council feels that it is important to keep areas with no specific themes for students who would prefer a more traditional dorm experience.
Students living in the dorms for the 2013-2014 school year have already signed up for their rooms.
“I’m looking forward to the success of the program,” said Maloney-Hawkins, “I’m excited and honored to be a CA there and I can’t wait for all of the excitement, challenges and attention it will bring to the college and myself. UMF is basically a pioneer in this field for the state of Maine.”