Every year that I have been at CSU, I have heard at least one story about an openly LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer) freshman whose randomly assigned roommate backed out of living with them because of their sexuality or gender identity.
This is not exactly the most welcoming way for a freshman to start out their semester at college. Colorado State takes pride in being an institution that is inclusive of students from diverse backgrounds and identities, yet there is no residential living option that explicitly caters to the needs of students who may not feel comfortable having their housing assigned based on a male/female binary.
Universities across the country — ranging from Princeton to CU-Boulder — have implemented gender neutral housing options in their dorms. I believe that this is something that needs to be implemented at Colorado State as well.
A gender neutral hall in the dorms would be an excellent alternative for incoming students who are required to live on campus, but do not feel comfortable or safe in the traditional sex-binary housing assignment situation that we currently have.
CSU already offers some diverse housing options and living communities based on students’ interests.
The list of residential living communities listed on the Housing and Dining Services website is extensive and tailors to a wide range of different personal and academic interests: art, engineering, equine sciences, international community, health and exercise science, honors, natural sciences, academics, community service, leadership and development, living green and substance-free living.
If you’re interested in any of those things and more, CSU offers a place where you can live and build community with other people who are interested in the same things as you.
If you are interested in living in a hall where you are guaranteed acceptance regardless of your gender identity or sexual orientation, on the other hand, there are no definite options available.
I do not mean to imply that people interested in horses or engineering deserve a dorm situation that allows them to build community any less than LGBTQ students — but the implications of living with someone who does not accept your gender or sexuality is far more serious than the implications of living with someone who does not accept your interest in horses.
Given all of the diverse housing options we already have it seems especially bizarre and wrong that the university does not already offer a gender neutral living community.
A gender neutral housing option means that students who choose to live in these communities could live in the same room as students of the opposite birth sex.
This is not to say that it would be a place where all LGBTQ students are required to live, nor would it be a place that restricted to only LGBTQ-identifying students.
Instead it would be a great option to students who do not feel comfortable living in the traditional dorm style and/or who are interested in building a community with their peers that is welcoming and inclusive of LGBTQ students and allies.
Discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation is something that faces the LGBTQ community on campus and in society as a whole — which is why related roommate-switches happen in the first place.
I think that a gender neutral housing option is a great way to battle discrimination against LGBTQ students because it would guarantee a safe and supportive living environment, and it would guarantee a welcoming community for students. LGBTQ students and allies are already very active on campus, and SOGLBT does amazing things and puts on inspiring events.
No student should be scared away from attending CSU and taking part in the great and supportive community that we have because of discriminatory housing.
Everybody deserves to feel comfortable and safe with their on-campus living situation, and more inclusivity is something that CSU should strive for.