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There are 48 comments on University Approves Gender Neutral Housing

  1. This is awesome. My only concern with freshman not having this option is what about incoming transgendered students. Are freshman room assignments being made by gender or by sex? Gender and sex are two different things. Perhaps transgendered students should have the option to identify as such so they are placed in the appropriate same-gender freshman housing.

    1. BU only uses legally assigned sex – there is NO option for gender and sex being separate.

      BU also refuses to have a “preferred name” line anywhere official meaning that, if trans students have not legally changed their name, then they are constantly mis-named and mis-gendered everywhere on campus including in dorms, classes, healthcare situations, and anywhere else you use your terrier card. There is also no open gender neutral changing space in FitRec that is not designated a “family” changing space.

      BU doesn’t care about this, though. Trans students don’t matter to administration.

      1. This is upsetting to hear. I’m a grad student so I don’t deal with any of this personally so I was not aware it was such an issue. But if you want to get a petition started those of us over in the anthropology department would be happy to support it. We’re all about teaching that sex & gender are separate concepts, that third genders are normal in many areas of the world, and support acceptance and equality for all people. Perhaps getting a professor and some grad students behind your push could give it some weight?

      2. Where you are right is that there are technically no spaces where a student can indicate “preferred name” or the gender with which they identify.

        However, I had an entirely different experience from what you claim. When I enrolled last year as a freshman, I had not even begun the process coming out, let alone transitioning or legally changing anything. Therefore, I filled out all of the paperwork with my birth name and sex.

        By the time orientation came around in July, I had come out and wanted to start living in my true gender – without any misgendering or uncomfortable situations – so I started asking around for who in the administration could help me. I was directed to Dean Elmore. He fixed everything for me, and did so with great care and understanding. He changed all of my information with the registrar to reflect my true gender identity, and my preferred name. I was assigned a new room that I felt more comfortable with, and I was re-issued a new ID for free that read the correct name. Whenever I came across any places where the changes to my information had not been applied, all I needed to do was contact him, and he made sure that it got fixed right away. Thanks to him, I was able to go stealth for my entire year, with misgendering only happening because I hadn’t started medically transitioning yet.

  2. This whole article glosses over the fact that BU approved Gender Neutral Housing LAST FALL and then decided to take it away.

    This article also COMPLETELY ignores that BU is still not friendly to transgender students – there are almost no gender neutral bathrooms on the main campus and not allowing freshmen to select gender neutral housing shows that the institution is treating it like some special thing. By REFUSING to acknowledge the impact that this can have on the LGBTQ, and especially the transgender community, BU is ignoring the real reasons and ramifications behind this.

    I hesitate to even call this a victory.

    1. I completely support the LGBTQ community, but please think logically. This is a great step in a progressive direction and I think we should all be happy that students were able to make an impact. However the things you are accusing your school of, not many other schools not to mention public facilities are good at either. What percentage of BU is transgender? Probably not enough to warrant new bathrooms built and facilities made specifically for them. I’m sorry this is the case and maybe in the future it will change, but I think for now BU is doing a great job at caring for their students.

      1. You’re right, the majority of our students are able-bodied too so we should just take out the ramps and elevators and use the money for something more important. Also, seeing as over 50% of BU is white, let’s provide no resources for People of Color.

        Sorry, but your “minority” mindset is not going to do anything. If ONE student out of our ~16,000 undergraduate students identifies as trans*, that should be reason enough to provide them the resources they need for their comfort and safety.

        Please try to put aside your privilege and recognize that, whilst you and everyone around you may be more than happy to use gendered bathrooms, for some individuals, it is a matter of verbal and physical harassment. I’m sure you wouldn’t hesitate to rally for this if you felt your safety and physical/mental/emotional well-being were on the line.

        1. Listen, the problem with the LGBTQ community today is that it demands too much and complains when real progress is made because the progress “wasn’t enough”. It completely belittles the actual progress that is being made regarding gay/lesbian/bi/trans/queer rights and it makes community as a whole seem ungrateful. Do not go yelling from the mountain about how this is equivalent to Desegregation or the Americans With Disabilities Act, because frankly that’s insulting to people who were literally hosed down in the streets or killed for standing up for their rights.

          Do not trivialize that fight.

          The world doesn’t go out of its way to cater to your individual needs, and I think that BU as a whole is very sensitive and responsive towards people with unique needs. Set aside your false indignation and keep up the push towards progress, but realize that at the end of the day your fight never ended in your house being firebombed or your fathers and brothers being attacked by police rottweilers in the streets. Check your own 21st Century privilege first.

        2. I understand where the frustrations are conning from I have plenty of friends who are in the LGBTQ community and see how they struggle yet strive at the same time in the environments they are given. Just as African Americans made strides while being oppressed the LGBTQ community can too. But this is the start of something wonderful, one less thing my friends have to worry about. It makes it a little easier doesn’t it? I’m not saying it’s perfect because there are still some bridges that need to be built, but change doesn’t come overnight. African Americans waited hundreds of years to get there to be a black president. In steps first the chains came off, then citizenship, then the rest fell in place, but again it took time. Think of this as the chains coming off for the LGBTQ community, its only a matter of time before it all falls into place. However always remember change is never easy and it will take a few loud voices from that community as well as the straight community to bring about such change. And when the time comes for such action I will gladly stand with all who want to bring about such change. But for now consider this battle to be won and wait for the next opportunity to instigate and push for change.

        3. The school is only obligated to do what the school wants so far as it remains within the confines of the law. They’re not obligated to do any of what they’ve done so far, nor are the obligated to do anything else.

          And if you’re truly unhappy with the progress that has been made, feel free to enroll in a university that you feel better suits your needs

  3. Here’s my concern with this:
    This university decision will likely lead to boyfriend-girlfriend couples choosing to live together, right? Well, all roommates have issues, so what if the couple breaks up and/or has a problem? Living together would then have the potential to be extremely hurtful and awkward – more so than if it was just a set of [former] friends having issues, and the proximity may interfere with the reconciliation process. Also, since both parties would have access to the same space, and won’t be able to lock each other out, it may increase the rate of [sexual] abuse.

    I don’t believe that co-ed housing is inherently impossible – just look at all of the intact sets of parents we know. At the same time, we know tons of parents who HAVEN’T survived their problems with each other, and without the vows and children and long-term commitment and whatnot to give them incentive to power through problems and stay together, I doubt roommates will try nearly as hard to make things work out.

    All the same, each housing arrangement only lasts for a year, so who knows?

    1. The article addresses this mentioning how that exact situation has happened already with same sex couples, and it was fine. Housing assignments last a year, but it isn’t uncommon for roommates to switch housing, especially between fall and spring.

    2. The article addresses this – “Couples might break up and request a room change (but, Zamojski says, his office has faced this issue before with same-sex couples and weathered it just fine).”

      1. I don’t mean to nit-pick, but here’s another aspect to consider: perhaps the combination of room change requests by both same-sex and opposite-sex couples would make this more of an administrative problem. And if a room change were not available to students in such a situation, more problematic ramifications for the students could present themselves.

    3. I think the issue that you raise is a very good one and one that I think in some way the administration should if they don’t already have a plan in place for. Anecdotally, I had same gendered friends my first year of college who were in a relationship and about halfway through the year things took a turn for the ugly. There was a lot of verbal abuse and some sexual coercion that began to happen up until they broke up during the second semester. It took a month for them to get separated into separate rooms, and in the mean time, it was a very, very unfortunate and honestly abusive environment.

      I am certainly not saying that all those gender neutral rooms are going to run into that type of problem, just as not all same sex rooms would run into that problem. It is a minority situation, but a situation that does exist nonetheless. I would like to have faith that there are systems in place and wheels turning to prevent situations like this from occurring after being reported to the admins.

    4. I think that these are very illustrative examples and also that it’s good to mention that these issues could be avoided.

      I’d agree that these conflicts are not an inherent problem of gender neutral housing, but rather a possible pitfall the school should try to avoid when going through this transition.

      Furthermore, many of the problems discussed in the rest of the comments here could probably be described the same way. As such, I think many of us could be hopeful that the move to gender neutral housing will foster more equity when it comes to concerns like the comfort of transgender students while avoiding possible issues like the transformation of “strong dialogue focused on the wellbeing of students to a closed door arrangement where anything goes” as Tim McGuirk mentions below.

    1. You’re right! This is something we should have had from the get go. What the article fails to mention (and the reason this IS a big deal) is because students had to fight so hard to get the administration to implement this policy, even risking suspension and arrest to try to move the administration to react to their need for Gender Neutral housing and facilities.

  4. @Elizabeth Even prior to this policy change, BU has been very good to incoming transgender students. A good friend of mine is transgender, he had no problem getting a rooming assignment he was more comfortable after contacting BU housing. The situation was resolved even before he got to campus. I’m sure DOS/housing/SHS will continue to support students who have legitimate concerns (sex/gender-related, or otherwise) for why they need to change housing

    1. Interesting you say that because every trans student I know at BU, including myself, has gotten nothing but roadblocks and ignored concerns from BU.

  5. Bravi President Brown and all those who worked on this. I went to BU in the late 90s early 2000s and new a number of people who would have benefitted from this arrangement. In several cases it would have been something that would have been great to have as an incoming freshman, or at least have had to option to live in LGBT friendly housing. Once again, glad to see this long overdue change implemented! Thank you.

  6. Ken your statement regarding gender neutral housing and parents was not well thought out. Telling parents it’s not the university’s discussion but belongs between the student and parent is incorrect as you created this environment! You too become part of the discussion as well!!!!

    1. Based on your post, I’m assuming you’re a concerned parent.

      If so, your student is the adult with whom you need to have these conversations. It is the University’s job to keep your student safe and comfortable; it’s your job to be a parent. If you really need someone watching and tending to your student ’round-the-cloud, you should have sent them to the closest college to your house and made them live at home.

      Furthermore, you obviously haven’t been paying attention. BU has been having this discussion (the Dean has even featured it as a topic for his weekly “Coffee & Conversation”) for a decade. My father is a Terrier who went to BU in the 90s, and it was also debated then. Even if you’re surprised by all this, that doesn’t mean your student was unaware… they just didn’t share it with you.

      1. I think the Dean Elmore’s statement was pretty well thought out. The administration wasn’t pushing to make this happen or “create this environment.” It was a push made by several students for BU to take a more progressive approach with housing. If anything, it seems like the administration resisted the change for a while. It’s really important for students to feel safe where they live and in the end it should be the student’s decision. Of course, many parents want to take an active role in ensuring that their student is happy and in an environment where they’ll excel. But at BU, the student’s name is on the bill and the transcript so they’ll have final say. If a parent feels uncomfortable with their student’s decision, who better to talk to than the student who’s making said decision? If a parent is footing the bill and wants to have some real input, I’m sure the Housing staff would be happy to have a discussion. They might just tell you to talk to your kid though.

        I don’t have kids so I may be way off here, but I feel like as a student at BU, the housing situation plays a big role. Adding flexibility and options might really make a happier and safer environment for everyone. I don’t think anyone will be forced to live in this new arrangement against their will. Also, I hope Housing can implement an incoming student version of this in the near future. I have a few transgender friends who didn’t even consider BU because the accommodations seemed too lacking. While I respect Housing’s decision to not be nosy and require an explanation, I think it would be good to give the option. Just a few lines where students can describe what sort of situation they’re comfortable with and find someone who wants something similar (only if they want to). I like that BU kept the incoming housing process pretty random with the option to mutually request a certain roommate. But for some incoming students, safety and fundamental social comfort might be a concern. It never hurts to improve the process. It would be cool to see how other schools of BU’s size are doing it.

  7. This news comes as a great shock to me.

    When Gender Neutral Housing (GNH) first immerged in the Student Union, it sought to help members of our community, in particular, those who identify as LGBTQ, secure good housing in order to feel safe. However, the current University policy, as approved by President Brown, offers something radically different. The University and our Student Government (SG) transformed GNH talks from a strong dialogue focused on the wellbeing of students to a closed door arrangement where anything goes.

    Throughout this process, leaders asked very little of students and instead chose to confine this issue to closed door discussions and sit-ins at the President’s Office. In acting this way, they directed this issue beyond “protecting students” and instead framed it around “housing choices.” Many friends serving on SG could not explain the principles of the plan as it took shape. SG never widely published their proposal and even upon request, offered little commentary beyond the two page plan…

    I hope the University considers the long term implications of this plan. It must work to protect the student caught in a vulnerable, perhaps abusive, situation or the student who, despite her or his conscientious objection to GNH, must set aside her or his beliefs in order to live in premier housing. Simply put, this incomplete plan leaves students unprotected and exposed to loop-holes and unresolved questions.

    1. So what you’re saying is that you supported the policy when it only tended to the needs of the LGBTQ community? I also identify with this group, and I disagree strongly.

      If the policy were intended only to help LGBTQ students who would feel more comfortable living with opposite-sex students, how would you apply?

      Student: “I want to live in gender-neutral housing.”
      Housing: “Are you gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer? This policy was intended for them.”

      You’re right that there are unanswered questions. This is unknown territory. But I believe the University is taking all appropriate steps to ensure safety as this policy moves forward.

      1. WHB, Yes, that was the origional plan and could work well. If a student needs a special accomodation for their safety or confidence, this should be a possibility within the University housing. We invite a host of other issues by offering a system where you live with whomever you want.

        As a students who pay boatloads of money to BU, we deserve a strong community life on campus. GNH, as the current policy stands, does not foster a strong community life. It instead allows complicated relations to dominate residential life.

        Protecting students who idetify as LGBTQ must remain a priority. That’s not what this “housing choice” aims to do.

        1. What if the student hasn’t come out? What if the student doesn’t want to come out to a University official in exchange for a better housing situation?

          Let’s extrapolate: housing options intended for people who are alcoholics. Or people who are HIV-positive. Or people who have any other thing that they want to keep private. You would force them to confess that just to get better housing?

          Your argument would make sense IF AND ONLY IF the whole campus had gender-neutral housing. But as the article clearly states, large dormitories (almost half the dorm rooms) are exempt from this. If you have a problem with GNH, you have a lot of options for where you can live. Or you can get a same-sex roommate in a double anywhere else. Or you can live in a single (almost every residence and area on campus has them).

          I think you are just trying to find fault somewhere here just to stir trouble. No one is forcing anyone to do anything. If you don’t want to live with someone of the opposite sex, don’t live with someone of the opposite sex.


          1. If a student is not out of the closet then I have three options for them. First, come to recognize that they are loved and will not be judged by their sexual orientation. Second, seek out a single room on campus (BU could provide this at the same cost of a double room). Third, maintain their private life and seek out other options. Lots of other options exist on and off campus. If they’re not LGBTQ, we can’t help them.

            In response to the “stirring trouble” bit, I’m not the one changing the housing system. I’m all for keeping students safe; we need to think this one through. A two page proposal doesn’t satisfy me…

          2. Tim,

            It’s none of anybody’s business when or if somebody decides to open up about what he or she does in the privacy of his or her bedroom. People don’t have to “come out” as straight, and the 21st century is still a really hard time to grow up and be anything that isn’t straight, regardless of the fact that we live in Massachusetts (remember, students come from all over the country and world).

            BU is not going to offer singles at the same price as doubles as the university is out to nickel-and-dime us as much as possible. Plus, everybody would try to take advantage.

            Many people, gay and straight and men and women and everything in between, can and should have the option to choose GNH or same-sex housing. Remember that we are all adults here. We need to stop babying our students, whether that’s in regard to them making decisions about alcohol or about living. Straight/cis-gendered people might feel more comfortable with opposite-sex roommates, too.

            Finally, you contradict yourself as far as your stance on people who are LGBTQ. On the one hand you state that they should “come to recognize that they are loved and will not be judged by their sexual orientation” (as if that’s even true for every single person), yet you support a system that separates people who are straight from everybody who isn’t straight. If we want to progress toward making people feel included and less different, we need to apply a policy to everyone, rather than having something that reminds students who are not straight that it is in place only for them.

            As far as your assumption that we don’t “come out” because we think people won’t love us and will judge us, it’s so much more than that. I appreciate the sentiment, and definitely don’t mean to patronize, but eventually it becomes about the person himself, not about the people around. Personally, I know that nobody will care at all if they know I like men…in Boston that is (my hyper-religious family, on the other hand, is a different story). But it’s not something I feel comfortable accepting myself, for a number of different reasons. And it’s more comfortable for someone to accept that and respect my distance than try to force it out of me or blame me for assuming that others will judge me.

  8. I am really happy to see they are opening gender neutral housing for those LGBTQ students that previously didn’t find appropriate housing and were met with a cold shoulder from BU admin/policy.

    I am concerned though for the safety of female students. I am shocked that in light of the extremely tardy development of a Sexual Assault Services program at BU (it was begun less than two years ago?) and the lack of resources for (mostly female) students who were subjected to male or sexual violence on campus previously, that the article does not even MENTION this potential problem. Just imagine if a hetero couple are living together and the boyfriend decides to invite his male friends over… male students will abuse their power and it’s a recipe for disaster. In light of Steubenville, Yale, and on campus sexual assaults that men and boys have committed against young women recently BU should try to implement some sort of monitoring process for male students trying to enter or leave the gender neutral housing, especially if they are coming from the male-only or off-campus housing.

      1. Your comment is a little misogynistic.

        Yes, we need to educate the whole campus (men AND women) on sexual abuse/violence, and how to keep ourselves safe while respecting other people’s rights and boundaries.

        The answer is not lock all women away from men lest their loins be enflamed with irreconcilable lust.

    1. “the lack of resources for (mostly female) students”

      Please name one program that is designed specifically for males and not females? The last time I checked, the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention center was for both males and females.

      What you’re requesting with your “monitoring process” is very sexist and just implies that it is always men who abuse women, and never the other way around.

    2. Wow, that’s one of the most sexist things I’ve read today. “Just imagine if a hetero couple are living together and the boyfriend decides to invite his male friends over… male students will abuse their power and it’s a recipe for disaster.” Like seriously, what the hell are you implying? That all males inherently succumb to their primal, brutish lusts when around a woman? That’s unabashed misandry and you know it.

      1. What I was saying is that some male students have BAD INTENTIONS (not instincts) and will abuse female students. Giving voice to the reality of male violence against women is not validating it or saying it is “natural” at all. Quite the other way around – I am arguing that we cannot keep invisible the ways some male students CHOOSE to assault female students, and it needs to be addressed. HOW is that implying that men “cannot control urges”?? Male violence against women is a CHOICE.

  9. I find this article simultaneously naive and disingenuous. 2000 students voting for this out of 7000 on-campus undergrads doesn’t seem like “strong input from the student body” – it sounds like a special interest group. How many votes were cast? Shouldn’t a majority be required before declaring the students’ will? And were parents even notified, let alone asked for an opinion?

    Is this mentioned in alumni solicitations?

    Will men be able to “forget” to have roommates long enough to get into a female rooming group?

    Will women in all-female groups have less social standing than those in mixed groups?

    If you think date rape is bad – and I think it’s horrible – prepare to be shocked by “roommate rape.” It’s 3:00 in the morning and a woman’s male roommate is drunkenly assaulting her. She might have the “right” to control her body, but that “right” is worthless jabber in a situation like that. Or is that just B.U. keeping up with other universities?

    But the administration has an out – women find it difficult to report rape by friends and acquaintances. Reporting roommate rape be nearly unthinkable.

    A recent B.U. Men’s Hockey team was correctly disciplined for sexually abusing women. Did this incident teach anything?

    This is nothing other than prurient human experimentation on subjects paying – or borrowing – tens of thousands of dollars a year for a real education. I urge the Administration to take more seriously their responsibility for education, and their responsibility to provide a safe environment to foster students’ intellectual growth, and to apply their years of adult experience on behalf of the students who are only entering adulthood.

    Andrew Wolfe

    1. Did you miss the entire opt-in nature of this situation? Do you seriously think that getting 2000 students to get behind something is a special interest? Is everyone a rapist until proven innocent? Why would this be mentioned in alumni solicitations?

  10. I understand people’s frustration, and obviously BU Today isn’t going to emphasize how much students had to fight AGAINST the administration to push this, but at the end of the day, I’m just glad it happened. It’s more progress than I was expecting from an administration that seldom listens to our voices. Well done. Thank you.

    For parents who are concerned, you’re sending your offspring to college, and trust me, hetero couples live together whether officially or unofficially in college dorms. I’ve seen gay couples that worked out and didn’t through this, but reslife handled it well and I’m glad this was brought up.

  11. The original intent of Gender Neutral Housing was to allow students the decision-making power in choosing their roommates. It was not originally targeted as a discrimination issue. The idea was that we are adults who have the authority to decide who we want to live with. That’s it. In 2008-2009 we got quite far. To the point where Marc Robillard suggested a “test floor” in StuVi. Not long after it was squashed. As the original author of the GNH proposal, it is mildly frustrating that people are upset about the administration not seeing this as an LGBT issue. Follow the link for an article about GNH from 2009.

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