The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) and the Office of Residential Life (ResLife) have teamed up to offer an optional Gender Inclusive Housing Request Form.
Though this request form does not necessarily result in a specific housing assignment, it can help transgender, non-binary and questioning students voice their needs and obtain information about different housing options before the housing lottery process begins. The submission deadline for the form was Tuesday, Feb. 12., after which point ODEI and ResLife will work with students to try and meet their wants and needs.
According to Timothy Bussey, assistant director of ODEI, this new procedure does not signal a change in housing policy so much as a new articulation of the services already offered by ODEI and ResLife. By filling out the form, students have the option to express their housing requests without having to contact ODEI or ResLife. According to Bussey, it is important that this process be made optional.
“We don’t want to presume that any given trans student wants to fill out the form or has any type of need that they want to express just by virtue of their gender identity,” Bussey said. “But we do want to recognize that, statistically, there are concerns that pop up on college campuses about inclusive housing practices and we want to acknowledge that.”
For Bussey, the goal is to meet student needs while also trying to accommodate student wants.
The form allows for students to express their needs, such as private showers or closeness to a gender-inclusive bathroom, as well as their wants, such as proximity to the center of campus.
Students who completed the form also had the opportunity to request a joint meeting with ODEI and ResLife, where they could discuss differnt options.
Even though the deadline was this past Tuesday, Bussey emphasized that ODEI is always available if a student feels that they need a different living arrangement.
Filling out this form ahead of time simply gives ODEI and ResLife a chance to help students with navigating the housing process before any transfer be needed.
Bussey, Jill Engel-Helman, director of residential life and assistant dean of students, and Jillian Yoder, assistant director for first-year residences, have also updated the first-year housing form to provide information on gender inclusive housing and on how first years can express their needs to ODEI and ResLife.
Regarding the Gender Inclusive Housing Request Form, Bussey said that this is the first time ODEI and ResLife are formalizing and streamlining this process, so they may have to alter and tweak things in the future.
“While we hope that there aren’t too many of those [changes] that need to be made, we are 100-percent remaining as reflexive and open to feedback as possible,” Bussey said.