Underclassmen navigate mixed-gender restrictions

Yale was the last Ivy League school to implement a gender-neutral housing option. After numerous panel discussions and committee meetings, the University approved gender-neutral housing in February 2010.
Yale was the last Ivy League school to implement a gender-neutral housing option. After numerous panel discussions and committee meetings, the University approved gender-neutral housing in February 2010. Photo by Joseph Breen.

While administrators have not yet decided whether to extend mixed-gender housing privileges to juniors, some underclassmen have still found ways to live with the opposite sex within the current system.

Seniors were first permitted to live with members of the opposite sex in the 2010-’11 school year, and administrators are currently reviewing a Yale College Council proposal that would give the option to juniors as well. But some underclassmen have created unofficial mixed-gender suites by opening fire doors between suites or sharing communal spaces. Marichal Gentry, dean of student affairs, said although current undergraduate housing regulations prohibit juniors from living in mixed-gender suites, residential college deans ultimately designate room assignments, adding that administrators cannot control where students spend their time after rooms are assigned.

“There’s no way for us to tell who is living with who,” Gentry said, adding that he supports the extension of mixed-gender housing to juniors.

Brendan Harrington ’13, a Berkeley junior who called his suite mixed-gender, said the arrangement arose because the vacant octet could not be filled entirely with one gender. Harrington said he, five other males and two females asked Berkeley College Dean Mia Genoni if the group could fill the octet. The dean agreed, and the octet was converted into a male sextet and a female double, which has doors to both the common room of the sextet and the hallway, he said.

Genoni did not respond to requests for comment.

Berkeley Master Marvin Chun said in an email that the junior suite is designed as a “flexible configuration,” such that it can either be an octet or a sextet and a double, depending on the housing needs of a particular year.

Harrington, who said he considers the two girls “suitemates,” said the living arrangement has been “fantastic” so far.

“It takes a certain type of person to be okay living with the opposite gender, and I understand why people wouldn’t be comfortable with it,” he said, “but we are all very comfortable with one another.”

In Morse College, junior Jennifer Friedmann ’13 technically has a single, but lives with a group of mixed-gender seniors in seven stand-alone singles on the eleventh floor of the Morse tower — in what she called a “conveniently gender-neutral suite.”

Because most of her former suitemates were going abroad in the fall, Friedmann said, she found a group of six seniors with whom she could enter the housing draw, two of whom are male. She said she thinks her case shows a compelling reason to extend mixed-gender housing to juniors, because her predicament almost led her to move off campus.

“It’s not fair given the four year housing promise that Yale gives to all of its undergraduates that juniors are forced to live off campus because they want to live with people they’re not allowed to,” she said.

The YCC proposal is awaiting consideration by the Yale Corporation, which cited a need for more time to analyze experiences of mixed-gender seniors when it considered extending the option to juniors last spring. Yale College Dean Mary Miller said residential college deans have reported only positive experiences with senior mixed-gender suites.

“I think gender-neutral housing has by and large been a success,” Miller said.

There are currently 29 seniors living in mixed-gender suites.

Comments

  • Branford73

    “There’s no way for us to tell who is living with who,” Gentry said, adding that he supports the extension of mixed-gender housing to juniors.

    Brendan Harrington ’13, a Berkeley junior who called his suite mixed-gender, said the arrangement arose because the vacant octet could not be filled entirely with one gender. Harrington said he, five other males and two females asked Berkeley College Dean Mia Genoni if the group could fill the octet. The dean agreed, and the octet was converted into a male sextet and a female double, which has doors to both the common room of the sextet and the hallway, he said.

    It’s so cute, I guess, that modern Yalies are such rule followers, asking for permission to do something beyond the control of admin. The same could have been accomplished by having all guys draw for the suite and their female friends switch with guys who wanted singles. It worked nearly 40 years ago for my senior roomies drawing for a 2 bedroom triple. You don’t even have land line phones anymore, right? So what importance is your “official” room assignment?

  • River_Tam

    Gender-neutral housing is another one of those fake “rights” that Yalies invent because they have nothing else to complain about.

    Let’s review:

    * Transgender students don’t even need this policy to live with the people they want – if they simply declared themselves to have switched genders, the Yale administration would bend over backwards to let them live with the people of the gender that they had declared for themselves.

    * Supposedly, gay Yalies could be uncomfortable with living with (straight) members of the same sex. But what would we tell a straight man who is uncomfortable with living with a gay Yalie? We’d call him a homophobe, of course, and tell him to get over himself. He’d be free to choose other roommates, but we’d hardly accommodate him. But for some reason, we need to accommodate the poor dear who can’t live with his classmates because they are straight?

    * What did Yalies do for the last 40 years when they had to finding housing? They made it work without mixed-gender housing somehow.

    > “It’s not fair given the four year housing promise that Yale gives to all of its undergraduates that juniors are forced to live off campus because they want to live with people they’re not allowed to,”

    Ms. Friedmann makes a good point. Here are some other lines that could work:

    * “It’s not fair given the four year housing promise that Yale gives to all of its undergraduates that juniors are forced to live off campus because they want to live with people in other residential colleges.”

    * “It’s not fair given the four year housing promise that Yale gives to all of its undergraduates that juniors are forced to live off campus because they want to own hotpots.”

    * “It’s not fair given the four year housing promise that Yale gives to all of its undergraduates that juniors are forced to live off campus because they want to live with pets.”

    * “It’s not fair given the four year housing promise that Yale gives to all of its undergraduates that juniors are forced to live off campus because they want to smoke in their rooms.”

    * “It’s not fair given the four year housing promise that Yale gives to all of its undergraduates that juniors are forced to live off campus because they want to have bigger rooms.”

    * “It’s not fair given the four year housing promise that Yale gives to all of its undergraduates that juniors are forced to live off campus because they want to live with non-Yalies.”

    * “It’s not fair given the four year housing promise that Yale gives to all of its undergraduates that juniors are forced to live off campus because they want to host Modern Love.”

    • wellobviously

      Honestly, how much longer are you going to troll the YDN comment section? Haven’t you graduated? Do you have nothing better to do with your time?

      • River_Tam

        > Honestly, how much longer are you going to troll the YDN comment section?

        I’m not a troll. A troll says something controversial for the sake of stirring up argument. I’d prefer it if everyone agreed with me and said “yes, you’re completely right!”

        > Haven’t you graduated?

        I did.

        > Do you have nothing better to do with your time?

        If I did, I’d be doing it.

    • jfriedmann

      Lol. Fair, River_Tam. My argument stems mostly from my situation, which is obviously truncated here. I did not want to move off-campus, but there was not a single-sex housing option available to me with just juniors. Thus it would have seemed unfair if I had moved off-campus regardless of my desire to live on-campus (which Yale does guarantee, even if not within your residential college proper) because of the lack of gender-neutral regulations for juniors.

      • GeoJoe

        No, not fair! Unfair. Never concede. Never!

    • GeoJoe

      1) Want to live with people in other residential colleges? Transfer.
      2) Hotpots? Fire hazard. No fire in my college, please.
      3) Pets? Messy. No pet poop in my college, please.
      4) Smoke? Gross. No cancer in my college, please.
      …the rest are rather silly.

      Because mixed-gender suites neither light things on fire nor poop everywhere nor cause cancer, they should be allowed unless there is some cost. There is no real cost to allowing gender neutral housing, so it should be universally allowed. Pretty simple.

      • jamesdakrn

        smoke? I’d love to hotbox my college man

    • xfxjuice

      It is wrong to assume that all Gay Yalies want to live with females simply because they “can’t live with their classmates because they are straight.” Has it ever occurred to you that maybe they want to live with close friends who just happen to be females, or do it BECAUSE they don’t want to make their suitemates uncomfortable?

      Regardless, this issue doesn’t concern you so I won’t let it bother me.

      • River_Tam

        > Regardless, this issue doesn’t concern you so I won’t let it bother me.

        How does it not concern me?

        • xfxjuice

          You don’t live here anymore.

        • wellobviously

          To quote Mean Girls, “She doesn’t even go here!”

  • River_Tam

    PS: There is no four-year housing promise at Yale. Students are guaranteed housing for their freshman and sophomore years. Doesn’t anyone listen to the tour guides anymore?

  • The Anti-Yale

    Troll (Internet)From Wikipedia,
    Modern usage of the word itself dates from 1980s.In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[4] The noun troll may refer to the provocative message itself, as in: “That was an excellent troll you posted”.

    PK (Troll)