More students to live gender-neutral

Chris Cho '12, Maria Yagoda '12 and Sable Worthy '12 live in a mixed-gender suite.
Chris Cho '12, Maria Yagoda '12 and Sable Worthy '12 live in a mixed-gender suite. Photo by Harry Simperingham.

For the first time, every residential college will house students living in mixed-gender suites next year.

In February, after working with the Yale College Council, administrators announced that gender-neutral housing would be available to both the junior and senior classes beginning in the 2012-’13 school year. Though the option to live in a mixed-gender suite has been available to seniors for the past two years, six out of 12 residential colleges currently have mixed-gender suites. This year’s housing draws have yielded a significantly higher number of students in mixed-gender suites — Branford College alone will have more students in mixed-gender suites next fall than there were in all of Yale College this year.

“This is enough to justify that the policy is working,” said Joseph Yagoda ’14, chair of the YCC’s gender-neutral housing committee.

Branford has just one mixed-gender double this year, said Rachel Ruskin ’12, a member of the Branford housing committee, and it will have three junior suites and four senior suites living mixed-gender next fall. Ruskin said these mixed-gender suites will house 40 Branford students, greater than this year’s Yale College-wide count of 29.

“Mixed-gender suites seem to have been very popular in the large room configurations, and these big suites tend not to go to seniors in Branford,” she said. “This could help explain why the expansion of this policy to rising juniors had such a large effect.”

Still, Yagoda said most colleges will now have only a few mixed-gender suites, adding that he thinks more students did not apply because many students had made their housing decisions before the new policy was announced.

Trumbull and Silliman will both house mixed-gender suites for the first time next year. Trumbull will have two gender-neutral suites and Silliman will have one, said Trumbull Dean Jasmina Besirevic-Regan and Silliman Dean Hugh Flick.

John Meeske, associate dean for student organizations and physical resources, said he has not received any specific numbers of students living in mixed-gender suites, as some colleges have not yet completed their housing processes. He added that one residential college was able to forgo using an annex space because it could configure mixed-gender suites to accommodate all its students.

“The possibility of gender-neutral housing allows some colleges to solve housing problems that they otherwise would have encountered,” he said.

Meeske said he has always supported gender-neutral housing because it meets the needs of certain students and “is not a terribly radical thing.”

Camy Anderson ’14, a Berkeley sophomore who is living in a mixed-gender double in Swing Space next year, said she decided to live in a suite with a male student immediately after the new policy was announced. She said after talking to her parents about it, she came to the conclusion that “it wasn’t a big deal.”

According to the YCC gender-neutral housing proposal released in January, 92.7 percent of the class of 2014 said they supported or were indifferent to the expansion of gender-neutral housing to juniors.

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