Beginning in the fall of 2023, all of Kenyon housing will be mixed gender, with the exception of theme, program and division housing, which will keep their existing gender-based policies. These changes mean that currently gendered spaces such as Norton Residence Hall will be mixed gender.
Kenyon began offering gender inclusive housing during the 2012-13 academic year, allowing upperclass students to live with individuals of any gender identity in the same room, apartment or suite, according to Director of Residential Life Leah Reuber. At the time, Bushnell Residence Hall and Norton were all female, and Manning Residence Hall and the first-year Gund and Lewis Residence Halls were gendered by floor. The rest of the halls were mixed gender, which meant that they were gendered by room like they currently are in the Mather and McBride Residence Halls.
Reuber noted how the new changes, which will go into effect for the next academic year, will standardize residential policies that were inconsistent in previous years. “Previously, we had a few wings and communities that were considered gender specific, but those were really inconsistently maintained,” she said. Norton, for example, has been all women in some years and mixed in others, depending on the results of the first-year housing preference forms that year, Reuber said.
To make spaces more inclusive, the Office of Residential Life has also worked to change restroom designations. Each floor of a residence hall with three or more restrooms will have at least one designated men’s bathroom, women’s bathroom and gender-neutral bathroom. Reuber said that Residential Life has worked to update floor plans on the Kenyon website to reflect these changes.
Reuber said that these changes help create a safe and inclusive residential experience. She noted that the changes are meant to help people with fluid gender identities not feel “pigeon-holed into a specific type of gender community.”
In the end, Reuber said that Residential Life is not generally changing how it approaches the housing placement process. “Ultimately this adjustment to broader gender inclusion in the residence halls doesn’t change anything we do since students are in the driver’s seat of that experience in their entire time at Kenyon,” she said.
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