MU Hopes to Have Gender-Neutral Housing by Fall 2013
COLUMBIA - MU is working to provide gender-neutral housing for next fall. The goal is to offer an on-campus housing environment for students who are trans-gender, or who might not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. The new housing option could provide a more safe and comfortable place for these students who live on campus.
The Department of Residential Life is working to find the best solution to offer this type of housing. Currently, it offers options for trans-gender students on a case by case basis, giving them the opportunity to have special accommodations. The main reason for this new option is to accommodate trans-gender students, and provide them with a safe environment.
However, ResLife is hesitant to offer this option to anyone who wants to take advantage of a co-ed dorm environment. This could include students who are related, best friends, and even students in relationships. "We are having problems with how to create this inviting environment for some students without excluding others," said Director of ResLife, Frankie Minor.
Only offering this type of housing to trans-gender students also creates a problem for those who do not want to publicly identify themselves as trans-gender. According to the Campus Climate Report at MU, trans-gender students are one of the minority groups on campus that reports a high level of harassment and intimidation. "We don't necessarily want to require someone to out themselves in order to secure this accommodation," said Minor, "but without that requirement, it leaves the option open for any male or female who want to share a living space."
Another challenge is high demand for campus housing. MU saw it's largest number of students this year. With more students to house, the campus does not want to take away the opportunity for students who do not prefer this type of housing.
The campus is considering designating a small section of gender-neutral housing for trans-gender students and other students as well. The process would be a completely open operation. Those who live in the designated area would understand those who live with or around them may not fit the typical gender roles.
"We just want to create an environment for all students to feel safe and secure. We are a higher education institution, and we have educated ourselves on this topic, and hope we can get something worked out for the next academic year," Minor said.