In light of the Jan. 31 ASNMU meeting and the creation of an exploratory committee for gender-neutral housing, I feel it’s appropriate to give the side of a student who is absolutely for gender-neutral housing.
Currently, NMU has no gender-neutral housing options. There are many advantages to allowing students to room with whomever they choose, including the most obvious answer: equality.
Gender-neutral housing is not as complicated as many people make it out to be. How come college students can vote, take out loans, serve in the army and even drink, but we can’t room with a member of the opposite sex? That seems a little backwards to me.
One would think that living in an apartment would mean being able to room with anyone of one’s choosing, but not here at NMU. In the on-campus apartments, the only way to room with a member of the opposite sex is to either be married to them or be their parent. One student said that she chose not to live on campus because she was not allowed live with her fiancé of three years. The university not only lost that couple’s money, but many others’ money who feel the same way.
Michigan is one of the top players when it comes to gender-neutral housing. Currently, a few campuses are gender-neutral, but many are looking into it, such as Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University. The University of Michigan allows transgender students to live with a roommate of the sex they identify with.
There are students who are transgender at every university, and NMU is not excluded. If the housing policy were changed to allow those students to choose who they want to room with, I’m sure more transgender students would chose NMU as their university. That would not only make NMU more accepting, but diversify our community.
While it is obvious that there should already be gender-neutral housing for transgender students, we shouldn’t exclude the other students at NMU either. Some people are just more comfortable around members of the opposite sex, so why shouldn’t they be allowed to live with them?
According to a survey conducted by American Demographics, those 18 to 24 years old are nearly four times as likely as those age 55 and older to have a best friend of the opposite sex. Also, with the new generation of students, many don’t identify with just one sex, or any at all. Choosing a living arrangement for these students is often complicated and ends with the student being unhappy. This can all be solved by creating a gender-neutral housing option.
One argument of the opponents of gender-neutral housing is that since students will be living with others of the opposite sex, there will be more hooking up. If you walk into any dorm on any university’s campus, you will see students hooking up. Obviously rooming with the same sex hasn’t stopped anyone. And, just because two girls or two guys are rooming together, that doesn’t mean they won’t be snuggling at night.
Another issue at NMU would be the bathroom situation. Many schools across the country have community bathrooms, but at NMU we only have suite-style rooms. This would make arranging the living situations a little more complicated, but if all students are comfortable in the end, it is worth the extra elbow grease.
The main point here is this: we’re all adults and as adults, we should be able to choose who we want to live with. If we choose someone and it doesn’t work, then we’ve learned our lesson, but should be our lesson to be learned.