Administrators approved gender-neutral housing for juniors on Sunday based on an evaluation of the experiences of seniors in mixed-gender housing over the last two years.
After the University allowed seniors to live in mixed-gender suites in 2010, the option to live with the members of the opposite gender will be extended to the classes of 2013 and 2014 next fall, and mixed-gender suites will be incorporated into the upcoming housing draw. A Yale College Council proposal to expand the gender-neutral housing policy to juniors was rejected last spring, but administrators said they have now reviewed enough survey data from seniors in co-ed suites to declare the initiative a success.
“We wanted to have enough evidence,” University President Richard Levin said. “We doubled the number of cases [from last year], so we were able to get a better sense of any problems that might arise.”
This year, 29 seniors are living in mixed-gender suites.
Joseph Yagoda ’14, chair of the YCC gender-neutral housing committee, said next year’s YCC will likely attempt to extend the privilege to underclassmen, but Levin said he would need more evidence of the policy’s success before supporting such an expansion.
In addition to comments from seniors living with the opposite gender, the YCC’s proposal included results from surveys of the student body. Of the 445 juniors and 443 sophomores who responded to the YCC survey, 92.7 percent said they either supported or were indifferent to the adoption of gender-neutral housing for juniors, and 67.1 percent said they would consider living with the opposite gender.
Yale College Dean Mary Miller wrote in an email that she has supported extending mixed-gender housing to juniors since 2009, when the idea of gender-neutral housing at Yale was initially proposed.
Juniors who live in a mixed-gender suite will be subject to the same rules as seniors, which state that each bedroom within a mixed-gender suite must be single-sex, YCC President Brandon Levin said.
Yagoda said he expects the number of students choosing to live in a mixed-gender suite will rise in coming years. He added that many students may be less willing to change their established living arrangements during their senior year than in their junior year.
“As people get older, their housing plans get more solidified, so by offering it earlier on people will be encouraged to stay on campus to live with their friends,” he said.
Yagoda added that the committee hopes to make students aware of the policy change and ensure that it is implemented smoothly.
Sophia Chen ’14, a current sophomore who currently lives next door to a male suite, said that immediately after hearing the news of the decision, she and eight other students entered the housing draw in a mixed-gender suite. She added that the mixed-gender arrangement will allow her and her friends a more comfortable living situation.
“A lot of my friends are gay and feel more comfortable living with the opposite sex, so they should have the option,” she said.
All other Ivy League universities allow mixed-gender housing for at least juniors and seniors, according to the YCC report.