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YouSpeak: Gender-Neutral Housing

Is the Student Government proposal a good idea? Or not?


A proposal crafted by BU’s Student Government would give upperclassmen the option of living in gender-neutral housing, with men and women able to share rooms in campus residence halls.

The Student Government plan calls for a five-year rollout. Year one would see 20 gender-neutral rooms in both StuVi1 and StuVi2, and some in residence halls on South Campus. More rooms and buildings would be added each year, with a goal of making gender-neutral housing available everywhere on campus by the fifth year. Students would apply for the option, and resident assistants would receive training to deal with issues that might arise.

This week’s “YouSpeak” asks: “How do you feel about gender-neutral housing?”

YouSpeak” typically appears each Monday.

If you have a suggestion for a question we should ask, post it in the comments section below.

Erik Duda, Multimedia Producer video film, BU Today, Bostonia, Boston University
Erik Duda

Erik Duda can be reached at erikduda@bu.edu.

21 Comments on YouSpeak: Gender-Neutral Housing

  • Anonymous on 10.09.2012 at 7:51 am

    I think it is a great idea. I wish I had that option when I was in undergrad. As a girl, it can be very difficult to live with other girls,if I had the option to live with some of my guy friends in college I think I would have had a better roommate experience. Of course, there is always off campus housing too and there are many more options for that here at BU than there were where I went for undergrad.

  • Ileana Tauscher on 10.09.2012 at 9:31 am

    The comments made in this video miss the point of gender neutral housing entirely. The point of creating a housing system that allows for people to opt to live in a gender-neutral space has nothing to do with living with your best friend who happens to be a guy, or significant other if they are of the opposite sex. It is meant to give those who don’t feel comfortable identifying with any gender a space in which they feel safe, or for those who do not fall within in the gender binary.

    • Ariana on 10.09.2012 at 10:57 am

      Ileana, I completely agree with you. This video only discusses comfort and ease, and shows students relying on stereotypes of gender to make a funny video. Oprah picture? Really?

      Gender Neutral Housing, as proposed by the Student Union, Center for Gender, Sexuality, and Activism, and Q, is for the purpose of creating safe spaces for students of ALL genders and sexualities in on-campus housing. Students deserve to feel safe where they live, and this video of the University not even discussing the needs of trans and gender-noncoforming students and LGBQ students, shows us how much farther we need to go. GNH is a vital service BU can offer.

    • Vika Zafrin on 10.10.2012 at 8:37 am

      My thoughts exactly, Ileana. Let’s start with gender NOT being a binary, and go from there.

  • opposite opinion on 10.09.2012 at 9:42 am

    I think a gender neutral floor in a dorm might work… BUT only for those who really wanted this (like they specifically ask for it). It’s another special interest thing…

    Unfortunately, if gender neutral expands to 50% of all housing, I could see kids who did not want gender neutral housing getting assigned to gender neutral housing strictly because they are male. I could also see (if this ends up extending to freshmen eventually) a freshman getting stuck in gender neutral housing even if he/she did not specifically request that. I think everyone’s preferences need to be respected…

    I think one of the really good things BU has going for it is that there is a respect for TRUE diversity, which means that not everyone is going to be comfortable with the latest trend (whatever that is), and that there is something for everyone on campus. You don’t find that at every school.

  • Karen on 10.09.2012 at 11:13 am

    Interesting that BU is slowly rolling out a policy that’s been in place at my alma mater, MIT, for at least a generation. The implementation is dorm-specific, and in at least two the rule is that students who share rooms should not be in relationships with each other, regardless of their genders. Students are expected to make other living arrangements if that changes. There are also on-campus and independent single-gender living group options for people who prefer living with people of the same (apparent) gender.

    The attitude that residents of the above-mentioned dorms cultivate is: It’s none of my business who you room with, unless I’m thinking of rooming with you. (Substitute “sleep with” or “marry” for “room with” and you have the thinking on same-sex relationships). No one’s forced to room with *anyone*, though if you really don’t approve of the on-campus roommate options you have to accept the fact that you’ll be looking for your own place off-campus.

  • Anonymous on 10.09.2012 at 12:49 pm

    I think GNH would be great for those that ask for it specifically. I know a lot of girls that want to live with their gay guy friends and a lot of gay guys who were uncomfortable living with straight guys in the past.

    GNH might run into trouble when a couple decides to live with each other and then breaks up. Or if romantic feeling are developed between a previously platonic friendship.

    While having two straight people of the opposite sex living together could potentially work out, I think the idea would work better when members of the LGBT community are involved. Simply because of the fact that romance could really complicate things if the situation presents itself.

    • CFA Masters '14 on 10.11.2012 at 5:46 am

      Yeah, I think if people really are that worried about people deciding to room with someone they’re in a relationship with and then breaking up halfway through the year, they could maybe make a rule – like you can’t room with significant others on-campus or you have to have been together for a certain amount of time before you can. That would be weird to enforce, though – what if people start dating when they’re already living together?

      Anyway, I think GNH is good at least as an option. I can see a lot of people who would feel awkward with an opposite-sex roommate, but as you said, a lot of lesbian, gay and bi people feel awkward with same-sex roommates, especially if that roommate is straight and even more if they’re bigoted. I knew straight people in undergrad who had problems with conservative roommates who wouldn’t let them bring their opposite-sex partners back to the room – I can’t imagine how awkward it would be for a person in a same-sex relationship with a roommate like that.

    • Overlord of the Underclassmen on 10.14.2012 at 5:19 pm

      Yeah…see..you have to apply for GNH and on your application you have to explain your reasoning. “I want to live with my boyfriend” is not a valid response and will get your application thrown in the trash.

  • Anonymous on 10.09.2012 at 1:16 pm

    Completely misses the point of GNH… well done.

  • Julie Hammond on 10.09.2012 at 1:40 pm

    I think it’s a great idea. It would give couples a place on campus that they could happily live, instead of being forced to move off campus. I think the majority of university housing should always be gender-specified housing because most students are not in a serious enough relationship to warrant gender neutral housing, but for those that are in a serious relationship, this would be a perfect option. I, myself, am planning on moving to Allston to be with my boyfriend next year, and I know of another couple who moved in together already and are very happy. I think gender neutral housing is a great option for couples who want to be together and remain on campus.

    • Overlord of the Underclassmen on 10.14.2012 at 5:18 pm

      Missing the point…. :[ not your fault though…

    • not julie hammond on 11.04.2012 at 5:50 pm

      GREAT point. I think one of the biggest problems at BU is that straight couples can’t live together on campus. How could BU have overlooked the fact that its housing policies do not satisfactorily accommodate couples!? Forget the fact that there are kids here who are forced to choose some identity that doesn’t belong to them. I have to walk from Hojo to Myles to do it with my boyfriend on a Friday!

  • Anonymous on 10.09.2012 at 4:55 pm

    The more choices the better, as far as I’m concerned. Just let people do what they want.

  • Sam Stone on 10.10.2012 at 9:14 am

    Despite the “just out of high school underclassmen” interviewed characterizing this topic as “those messy boys” and “those Oprah-watching girls”, the fact that this is even being discussed – or needs to be proposed – demonstrates just how slowly BU progresses on social issues. Co-ed rooms were first instituted at Oberlin College in 1970 (42 years ago!!). Life Magazine even did a cover story on the issue at the time sub-titled “An Intimate Revolution on Campus”. By 2008, at least two dozen colleges and universities permitted co-ed rooms. By 2010, the number of schools with gender-neutral housing had more than doubled, to 54, and has continued to grow steadily the past two years.

    Bottom line: it’s the 21st Century; time to put the Victorian model to bed and join us here in the present.

  • David Choi on 10.10.2012 at 12:22 pm

    not a gud idea… live coed once you’re married

    • rheepete on 10.10.2012 at 12:27 pm

      Eph. 5:22-33
      “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, 23 because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church – he himself being the savior of the body. 24 But as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her 26 to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, 27 so that he may present the church to himself as glorious – not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one has ever hated his own body but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 for we are members of his body. 31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great – but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

      • S.B. on 10.10.2012 at 7:15 pm

        ^This troll has been fed.

  • Marisa Benjamin on 10.10.2012 at 5:29 pm

    This is probably the worst reporting I’ve seen by BU Today in a long time.

    If you had done your research like every journalist should about an issue they are covering, then you would have known gender neutral housing has NOTHING to do with people looking to live with their best friends or significant other.

    It’s for people who don’t necessarily identify with their gender and are looking for a safe/more comfortable space to live.

    This video completely discredits the cause a lot of my transgender friends have been working for because you chose to interview people who have NO idea what gender neutral housing is. You could have at least made the video more balanced by interviewing a few transgender students, but nope not one.

    I never comment on anything from BU Today, but as a journalism student I found this really shocking.

  • Overlord of the Underclassmen on 10.14.2012 at 5:17 pm

    Chick-fil-a isn’t a political agenda….it’s damn good food run by people who happen to publicize their political beliefs….

    Oh by the way, I love Chick-fil-a, AND I was integral to passing GNH…so fudge all the chicken sandwich haters!

  • Catherine Caldwell-Harris on 03.04.2013 at 9:55 am

    The comment about transgender students was quite sobering. People should not be required to live in a situation that makes them uncomfortable. GNH could at least be decided on a case-by-case basis even in the absence of an official policy.

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