By Meghan Rowe, Staff Writer

James Maloney-Hawkins Mallett Hall CA (Photo courtesy of Chelsea Lear-Ward)

James Maloney-Hawkins Mallett Hall CA (Photo courtesy of Chelsea Lear-Ward)

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.”