No mixed-gender housing for sophomores this fall

Though seniors and juniors can live in mixed-gender suites, sophomores will not have that option next year.
Though seniors and juniors can live in mixed-gender suites, sophomores will not have that option next year. Photo by Harry Simperingham.

Gender-neutral housing will not be offered to sophomores in the fall, despite recent efforts by the Yale College Council to extend the option.

Students have mixed feelings about the expansion of gender-neutral housing to freshmen and sophomores, said YCC Vice President Danny Avraham ’15, according surveys conducted by the YCC to gauge underclassmen interest in mixed-gender housing. A Feb. 7 survey of 384 freshmen and 406 sophomores found that 72.1 percent of freshmen supported the extension of gender-neutral housing to sophomores, while 60 percent of sophomores supported it and roughly a quarter said they were indifferent. YCC President John Gonzalez ’14 said the YCC will continue to advocate for gender-neutral housing for sophomores next year.

“No changes will happen this year, but conversations regarding the expansion of gender-neutral housing will continue into next year,” said Paul Parell ’15, a YCC member in charge of the gender-mixed housing initiative.

Fifty-three students out of 86 students currently in gender-mixed suites said they believed sophomores are “mature enough” to live in gender-neutral arrangements, with 12 reporting that they disagreed, 20 saying that they are unsure and one student leaving the question blank, according to the YCC survey. The survey also showed that 55 supported allowing gender-neutral housing for sophomores, while 16 were indifferent and 15 did not support the proposal. Out of the freshmen surveyed, 26.3 percent supported offering mixed-gender living to freshmen and 64.1 percent did not support the proposition.

YCC members will discuss the results of the survey with President-elect Peter Salovey when he meets with YCC on May 7, Gonzalez said. The decision ultimately lies in the hands of administrators and can take a long period of time to implement, Avraham said.

“Policy changes don’t happen in a few months,” Avraham said. “It’s a process within Yale that takes a very long time.”

In 2010, administrators approved gender-neutral housing for seniors, and University President Richard Levin and the Yale Corporation agreed to extend gender-neutral housing to juniors in February 2012 after an initial proposal was rejected in spring 2011.

At an April 3 panel discussion on mixed-gender housing organized by the Communication and Consent Educators, students offered reasons to expand gender-neutral housing options to freshmen and sophomores, said CCE Emily Hong ’14. Certain students, such as those who identify as transgender, may not be comfortable in the housing arrangements currently offered to freshmen, Hong said, adding that during the panel, students considered ways to find and provide for those with specific living requirements.

“We talked about how to make the housing form more specific, even for freshmen coming in,” Hong said.

At the time of the survey, nearly 130 sophomores out of 403 surveyed said they were currently considering gender-neutral housing for the coming year.

Deans and student housing representatives from Branford, Pierson, Trumbull and Saybrook colleges each reported roughly one to three gender-mixed suites registered for the upcoming academic year. Administrators said they have not yet collected data on the demand for gender-mixed housing during housing draws this year.

Seventy-nine students currently living in gender-neutral housing reported that mixed-gender living arrangements have positively impacted their residential college experience, according to the survey. Five students said the effect was neutral, and one said the experience was negative.

Gender-neutral housing was first approved for seniors in 2010.

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