Connecticut College News
The housing option ensures that all students have access to safe and comfortable living environments.03/17/2009
Connecticut College has adopted a gender-neutral housing policy that allows students to elect to live with a roommate of any gender identity or biological sex. With this policy, the College can continue to ensure that all students have access to safe and comfortable living environments regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.
The new housing option will be available to rising sophomores, juniors and seniors who self-select roommates of a different gender or biological sex.
The College’s Trustees were briefed on the policy at their February meeting. Trustee Prescott W. Hafner ’80, an advocate of the change, said the availability of gender-neutral housing sends an affirming message to all students. It reinforces that the College community welcomes people as individuals, whatever their differences.
“Sexual orientation just becomes a metaphor for difference,” Hafner said. “Each of us is different in our own particular way and part of the thing about a policy like this is the College says, ‘We acknowledge and appreciate difference and we work with it.’”
Hafner noted that each student’s initial roommate will still be assigned by the College. Students can request a change after two weeks if they have problems. That prevents people from saying from the start, “I want to be with someone just like me,” Hafner said. The policy encourages trust, and it encourages people to take the high road – while also acknowledging that roommate pairings don’t always work.
“It encourages people to be their best selves – and open to difference, and open to learning,” Hafner said.
Armando Bengochea, dean of the College Community, said a significant part of the mission of the Office of Residential Education and Living is to provide safe, comfortable and inclusive living arrangements for all students. “This policy acknowledges the diversity of the student population at Connecticut College and is a necessary step toward providing fair and inclusive housing options,” he said.
The policy, originally requested by students, has been endorsed by the Student Government Association, the Campaign for Gender Identity Awareness, the LGBTQ Resource Center, the Office of Residential Education and Living, the Office of Student Life and the College’s senior administration.
The College joins more than two dozen U.S. colleges and universities with a gender-neutral housing option, including Wesleyan University, Swarthmore College, Clark University, Brown University, Sarah Lawrence College, Ithaca College, Hampshire College, Stanford University, Dartmouth College, Cornell University and Columbia University.
For more information about the policy, please visit www.conncoll.edu/campuslife/8687.htm.