Boston University Students Can Now Live With Someone of the Opposite Sex
When students come back to Boston University in the fall, there will be some big changes to some of the housing assignments.
Joining universities like Tufts and Northeastern, BU will now offer gender-neutral housing to most of the student body, allowing two or more students to share a bedroom, a suite, or an apartment in specific buildings on campus with the opposite sex.
“This is about empowering students to make choices about how they live and giving them a greater measure of control over their college experience,” said Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore, according to BUToday.com. “This is really about your choice of who you live with. Your preference about gender and how you perceive it is really not our concern.”
The implementation of gender neutral housing assignments came after an approval from BU President Robert Brown, who took into account a vote passed by the Boston University Student Government Senate, the main instrument of the student voice used to get rules passed and changed, in 2012. Earlier that year, a survey conducted by the student government showed that nearly 2,000 students supported the idea and wanted the housing option.
But the transition into gender neutral housing options, which will be available to upperclassmen starting with the fall semester, through a swap-out process, didn’t come without a fight. After initially approving of the plan, the administration backtracked their support, and said the concept would be stalled “indefinitely” due to other housing priorities the school felt it had to focus on.
Angered by the reversal of their initial decision, a group of students formed “Gender Neutral BU,” comprised of members of the Center for Gender, Sexuality and Activism, and started an accompanying petition and Tumblr page, followed by a protest inside the office of the University’s president.
The idea of gender neutral housing was also supposed to be tailored toward members of the LGBT community who felt unsafe or uncomfortable in their living environment. Some students transitioning genders wanted the option so they could avoid living in single rooms during that time.
Members of Gender Neutral BU said they felt as though their voices had been “silenced” by the administration, and that they had gone through all the proper steps in order to enact the plan, and allow the living conditions for students who were interested.
Now, the school is keeping to its word, and listening to the students who voted favorably for the housing plan, and will start to roll out gender neutral living situations in the fall, with a more robust program set for the spring semester.
According to BUToday, there are some limitations, however:
Implementation of the policy will begin in earnest next spring, when students can choose from a variety of housing options, both in terms of cost and location. Some student residences—Claflin, Rich, and Sleeper Halls, Warren Towers, The Towers, and the Myles Annex, all of which are large dormitory-style residences with shared community bathrooms—will be excluded from the arrangement.
While many students from the LGBT community wanted the option for safety reasons, officials from the school said they are not concerned with the reason behind student’s choice for the new living options, but rather, that it’s there for them to consider if necessary. “We do not believe we need to know why students opt for accommodations when living with members of the opposite sex,” David Zamojski, assistant dean of students and director of residence life told BUToday. “It’s a choice for students, and we’re prepared to support students no matter where they live on campus, no matter what their living situation.”