After Princeton, Yale is last Ivy without gender-neutral housing

With Princeton’s decision last week to offer gender-neutral housing in the next academic year, Yale becomes the only remaining Ivy League school with no on-campus gender-neutral housing option.

The University officers’ postponement last March of a final decision on gender-neutral housing is still in effect. Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry and Yale Associate Dean for Physical Resources and Planning John Meeske, as well as the Yale College Council, are still gathering information on what a possible program would look like. Administrators said they would use this information to make a conclusive decision by the spring.

Harvard, Stanford, Brown, Penn, Cornell, Dartmouth and now Princeton all offer gender-neutral housing in some form. Columbia has no policy on gender-neutral housing, but the school’s dormitory situation allows mixed-gender suites because of the configuration of its singles.

Meeske said he is not worried that Yale would lag behind on this issue, adding that, because of Yale’s residential college system in which all colleges are treated equally, it would be impossible to create a pilot program on a small scale.

Gentry agreed, adding that differing from other Ivy Leagues’ policies will not tarnish Yale’s reputation because the residential college system, although it complicates implementation of gender-neutral housing, offers other benefits.

Gentry said he and Meeske were asked to study the housing issue further after the March decision from Yale administrators. Their report, due by the end of the semester, will go to Yale College Dean Mary Miller before review from the officers of the University. University President Richard Levin agreed in an interview Monday that there will be an affirmative or negative decision by spring.

Gentry and Meeske agreed, however, that a gender-neutral housing option would work at Yale. Meeske added that while studying the issue over summer, he found no examples of schools that had regretted their decision to create an alternate housing option.

“My recommendation is still the same — that we adopt gender-neutral housing,” Meeske added. “What [school officials] told us was that, ‘We did it, and nobody blinked an eye.’ ”

But when the decision was postponed last spring, Miller raised several complicating factors that make implementation of the policy at Yale particularly difficult. For example, housing for rising juniors is often sparse, forcing many groups of students to regroup quickly when they do not get an ideal suite configuration. Miller said in March she feared that students who would prefer a single-gender suite might be pushed into mixed gender housing. She said Tuesday that she has no further comment until she sees the report prepared by Gentry and Meeske.

Still, Yale College Council President Jon Wu ’11 agreed that a gender-neutral housing option is long overdue at Yale. A YCC project group is currently working to develop a report, which includes the opinions of students and residential college masters and deans, to submit to Levin.

“We think it fits within the current framework,” Wu said. “We want this to definitely be in place for the next housing cycle.”

Wu added that, according to YCC recommendations, though students would be able to choose whether they lived in gender-neutral housing, no student left over in the housing draw would be forced to live with a member of a sex with whom they were uncomfortable.

“You give your preferences, but you don’t necessarily get what you want,” he said. “There’s always the option of living off campus.”

Wu said YCC’s gender-neutral housing committee is the student government’s largest group.


  • Recent Alum

    This is one issue where we can be proud of our alma matter. Let’s hope that Yale can resist the pressure — which will almost inevitably increase in intensity — to change its policy.

  • yale11

    This article is about to be swamped with comments I am sure, but I hope this comment will get to the heart of the problem.

    As a Yale junior who would very much LIKE to see gender-neutral housing, it is nonetheless important to highlight Dean Miller’s concern:

    “housing for rising juniors is often sparse, forcing many groups of students to regroup quickly when they do not get an ideal suite configuration.”

    Any Yale student who has been involved in the housing process knows the chaos and anxiety that accompanies it. I don’t see how anyone can pretend that an impartial gender-neutral policy will not create scenarios of extreme peer pressure for students uncomfortable sharing a suite with the opposite sex. Speaking from my own experience, had Yale implemented a full-policy last year I would have been placed in such a situation. And not from my own reservations, but from the wishes of my parents.

    I really would like to see a working policy at Yale, and I have many friends who would benefit greatly from it. However, in our excitement as a student body it is important to remember what kind of pressure might be created for those who could conceivably be forced between living in such a suite or moving off-campus.

    There are a lot of smart people here, I am sure we can figure something out.

  • Y10

    Couldn’t this “sudden” regrouping of suites be made less sudden by starting the housing process earlier? There are several weeks between the deadline to apply for a semester abroad and the start of the housing lottery. Giving people more time, combined with a commitment to respect people’s individual levels of comfort, should be enough to solve that particular problem.

  • y09

    Wu makes the comment that there’s always the option to live off-campus. I’m sure this quote was part of a larger conversation, and I hope I can take it to mean that gender-neutral housing will only be an option for juniors and seniors (as sophomores are required to live on-campus). I think if gender-neutral housing is an option for sophomores, they should be allowed to live off-campus. We all know how complicated the housing lottery can get, the the ycc’s vague assurances that students won’t be forced into a “gender-neutral” suite through the lottery isn’t enough. If a gender-neutral housing policy is enforced, off-campus housing must be an option.

  • Hieronymus

    While I really do not care about gender-neutral housing per se, I am always concerned when the dogged shriek for change accompanies any topic.

    As I have stated in the past: if you cannot engineer your own private gender-neutral situation, you really just are not very clever.

    That gender-neutral (or, really, *any* broad-based, minority-rule, lowest-common-denominator policy) must be forced upon folks perhaps speaks more to the protestants’ mediocrity (think union rules, e.g.) than the supposed “merits” of the issue itself.

    (Indeed, it *is* rather like grad skool unionization: only the admittedly weak and mediocre demand “pay equity”–or whatever they heck it is they cry out for–want a union; the strong and the skilled would rather fend for themselves than hide under the petticoats of a benign State. But I digress…)


    There are so many canards used to support the ridiculous gender neutral housing policy. Transsexual students (who would still be categorized as one sex or the other regardless), gay students (gay men can and have lived and fraternized with straight men their entire lives), ‘freedom to choose’ (but I can’t use a woman’s bathroom, can I?).

    The YCC is a bunch of busybodies.

  • Branford ’10

    Yes the housing lottery can get complicated and a lot of times people have to rush to reconfigure. But I don’t think it would be difficult to prevent people from ending up in co-ed dorms if they aren’t comfortable with that. When people turn in their original room form, they can have the choice to check a box saying, ‘If reconfiguration is required I would like to remain in a single gender suite.’ Then you would end up with three pools, female-only, male-only, and gender-neutral and people could form their own groups within those pools. It’s not that complicated.

  • er..


    Except if you have friends that are counting on you to not have a problem with it.

  • icky

    Yale may be last in housing policy reform, but at least we’re first in cooties prevention. ew.

  • Tanner

    With this housing policy want to meld into the general population or do they want to segregate themselves from the general population?

  • onceproudyaliemom

    Oh please can’t Yale be the last bastion of sanity and an advocate for “developmentally appropriate social experiences”. Why must we always cower to the minority. Its bad enough that my children have to be “sexiled” while roomates freely “fraternize” in same sex public suite spaces. Frankly, its disguisting and highly selfish. I personally resent that students have to see these sex acts, they might as well turn on Animal Planet. What will happen next… I hardly think Yale is going to lose any “matriculants” due to a lack of gender neutral housing. Just maybe, they will gain some. Bravo/a #1

  • hey mom

    Sexiling means that you’re in the common room while your roommate is in the bedroom having sex. You’re definitely not watching, much less forced to watch, said sex.

  • lol@mom

    yes, because sexiling only happens at yale.

    and i’m sure your kids do plenty of sexiling. they go to college, don’t forget.

  • Y ’00

    Wait a minute, people. I call BS on this nightmare scenario painted by Dean Miller and some of the comments above.

    In the absence of a gender-neutral housing policy (i.e. now), it is WAY more common for people to be stuck living with people they don’t want to live with than it would be under a gender-neutral regime. Suppose there are four people left in the housing lottery: A, B, C, and D. You’re A. You’re comfortable living with B. You don’t want to live with C or D — they make you uncomfortable. There are just two doubles left in your college.

    Under the CURRENT regime, if you happen to be the same sex as D, while B and C are the other sex, then you’re stuck living with D, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you. It’s D or off campus for you.

    However, once a gender-neural housing regime is finally put into place, if you and B are comfortable living together, then you can do so; you’re not stuck living with someone you don’t want to live with just because they’re the last person of your sex in the housing draw.

    This point can be generalized. When you have a limited number of suites for Juniors AND mandatory sex-segregation, everyone’s housing options can become very limited. Opening up gender-neutral housing choices lessens these limits somewhat. Yes, not everybody has an option to live with someone they’re comfortable living with; those who don’t have to move off campus. But that’s nothing new. That’s the way things are now. Gender-neutral housing makes this problem LESS bad than it is now, by giving people somewhat more options than they have now.

  • Tradition

    Yale often likes to reference our traditions.. well…. this is one tradition that should continue. No need to be #1 or follow the heard. Common sense should prevail. No doubt, every generation of students will be exposed to all facets of school life. Let each gender have their privacy and this is not a situation where we need to accommodate then needs/wants of a few

  • Y 05

    Given the Yale colleges have entryways where one suite may be men and one suite may be women, and all of the college dorm bathrooms are coed, it seems that Yale is already halfway there; only minimal changes would need to be made

  • Gab Endsley

    It is the students decision and they need to decide, I think Yale should remain as it is right now and that they should not be pressured by others IVY.

  • nhy7

    Congrats, Yale! You are the only sane Ivy in the group on this point. Don’t be intimidated by the PC terrorists. Its just a bad idea for lots of reasons.

    From a parent who pays a Yale undergrad’s bills

  • hey#12

    I only wish that had been my childrens’ experience…and, lol@mom, I thought you would be more tolerant of those who make “alternative” choices. You are a Yalie aren’t you??

  • Old Blue ’73

    #5 said, “As I have stated in the past: if you cannot engineer your own private gender-neutral situation, you really just are not very clever.”

    Absolutely correct. I had a coed triple in Branford senior year. Our woman roomie put in for a single and switched with our third guy after the room draw. No sweat. We figured if somebody kicked up a stink we liked the third guy enough anyway. Nobody gave a damn, including all our parents. We were friends like brothers and sisters, no romantic involvements.

  • progenderneutral

    In response to comment #11,

    This isn’t about cowering to the minority – I believe it has been a longstanding issue that the freedom of choice is more important than the concept of self-segregation by only choosing to live with people of your own gender; while either is fine and not to be judged, I find it extremely sad at the same time that people can be so narrow-minded as to critically judge others’ opinions. It should be about choice – you personally don’t have to live in gender neutral housing if you didn’t want to, but don’t try stop others.