The Yale College Council is working on expanding mixed-gender housing to sophomores after the Yale Corporation approved a proposal to extend the option to juniors last spring.
The YCC’s four-person Gender-Neutral Housing Committee will survey freshmen as well as juniors currently in mixed-gender suites for the proposal for sophomore gender-neutral housing it plans to submit to administrators soon after spring break. YCC members said they think that as gender-neutral housing for juniors and seniors has proved successful, it is time to extend the policy to sophomores. Students and administrators involved in last year’s junior mixed-gender proposal said the YCC must include a large amount of data and survey information in its proposal for it to pass.
“More and more, we have seen that this policy has enhanced student life at Yale, and concerns that the option might be detrimental have gone down,” YCC Treasurer Joey Yagoda ’14 said. “The preliminary data the new committee has collected gives us reason to think this policy is benefiting the juniors and seniors using it.”
Administrators first approved gender-neutral housing for seniors in 2010, and after the YCC submitted a report requesting to extend the option to juniors in December 2011, University President Richard Levin and the Yale Corporation approved the YCC’s proposal the following February.
In spring 2011, an earlier YCC proposal to expand gender-neutral housing to juniors was rejected because administrators said they needed to review more data to determine the success of the seniors’ program.
“The greatest impediment to the policy’s expansion to juniors was simply time,” former YCC President Brandon Levin ’14 said. “The Corporation wanted to see that there had been successful implementation of the policy in senior suites.”
Levin added that providing enough data about the effectiveness of the policy in senior and junior suites will be critical to whether the new proposal is accepted. Yagoda said he thinks that the committee can currently make a strong case for sophomore gender-neutral housing because four cohorts of data exist — three years of gender-neutral housing for seniors and one for juniors.
Still, YCC President John Gonzalez ’14 said the policy most likely will not be implemented by the fall.
Martha Glodz ’15, a member of the YCC’s Gender-Neutral Housing Committee, said the committee will take several steps to gather data for its final report. On Sunday, the YCC sent out a survey that asked freshmen and sophomores if they would support expanding gender-neutral housing to sophomores and asked sophomores if they would consider living in a gender-neutral suite during their junior year. The survey was not sent to juniors or seniors. The committee will also meet with all juniors currently living in gender-neutral suites to gather feedback, Glodz added.
Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd ’90, who supported extending gender-neutral housing to juniors, said she thinks now is an “appropriate” time for the YCC to consider the option for sophomores. John Meeske, dean of undergraduate organizations and physical resources, said he would “recommend the policy” and Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry said he “would not be opposed” to the policy. Both Gentry and Meeske said they have not heard of any specific issues that have arisen out of mixed-gender suites.
“This policy gives students more options, and it makes sense to make it available to people who feel strongly about it, especially because there are such small numbers involved,” Meeske said.
Council of Masters Chair Jonathan Holloway said that when members of the Council first considered allowing seniors to live in mixed-gender suites in 2010, they discussed whether the policy would work for juniors and sophomores as well and concluded that it would not be effective for sophomores. He added that he does not currently support mixed-gender suites for sophomores.
“There was a feeling that developmentally, sophomores are not ready for mixed-gender suites,” he said. “There are a whole host of cognitive and social abilities sophomores are still forming, and I think many are not quite ready for the interesting complications that may arise from gender-neutral housing.”
All eight freshmen interviewed said they would support giving sophomores the option to live in gender-neutral housing.
Helena Mauer ’16 said she “would definitely consider living with some of her guy friends,” adding that “the policy would be more fair to people of various sexual persuasions.”
The only other Ivies that restrict sophomores from participating in gender-neutral housing are Cornell and Princeton.
Clarification: Feb. 17
A previous version of this article stated that Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd ’90 thinks now is an “appropriate” time for the YCC to consider the option for sophomores. In fact, Boyd stated that the issue is “an appropriate question for YCC to ponder.”