Friday, November 5, 2010

Gender-neutral dorms becoming more common in U.S. [Bunce]

By Brooke Bunce

[Krista, please see below]

Prof Stewart-

I am having some technical difficulties trying to get this video to work and upload. I will have it to you ASAP. I think I may just need to re-edit it from a computer in the multimedia lab in the library. I have one more interview and will need more b-roll. I would like for my text to include the bulk of the information and for my video to include mainly testimonials, opinions, and experiences of students, seeing as this is quite an abstract concept to catch on film. Here is a basic script:

Gender-neutral housing is a practice that is becoming increasingly more common throughout colleges across the United States. As conventional definitions of binary gender and sex continue to blur, so too do the boundaries of traditional roommates. With the help of Student Senate, Ohio University recently passed a resolution to enact optional gender-neutral housing in two years, tentatively. OU is just one in an increasing amount of campuses that are implementing this residential policy. Popular since 2004, some of the first colleges to incorporate gender-neutral housing were Oberlin College in Ohio, University of Southern Maine, and Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. Now, 55 campuses nation-wide have decided to opt for the gender-neutral residence option.

Supported heavily by the LGBT community, gender-neutral housing creates a safe and inclusive environment for those that may not feel comfortable in the traditional confines of gender. The option for this type of housing is in most cases completely optional, just as a female-only or substance-free hall would be. Abuse is highly unlikely and has not been reported by any college that has enacted the policy, says Sean Martin, commissioner for LGBT Affairs on Ohio University's Student Senate. Those opposed to this type of housing argue that it opens up many opportunities for abuse by heterosexual couples, and creates an uncomfortable bathroom situation. Lindsey Cohen, an openly gay freshman at OU, states that she chose to live in a single due to her fear of possibly having a roommate that was not comfortable with her sexuality. Cohen expresses that gender neutral housing would alleviate both anxiety and cost for her and many other LGBT students.

Ohio University hopes to implement a pilot for gender-neutral housing within the next year. These test models would include a mod-style dorm on the South Green campus and a more traditional style dorm on the East Green campus; one with a community bathroom and one with an individual bathroom.

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