Updated: Dec. 9, 3:18 p.m.
Mixed gender housing, currently only available to upperclassmen, will be extended to sophomores beginning next fall.
In a Tuesday email to undergraduate students, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway announced that sophomores will have the option of mixed gender housing in the spring 2015 room draw. The Yale College Council has long advocated for this policy, Holloway said, and it now has the support of residential college deans and masters as well.
“We’re very, very excited,” YCC president Michael Herbert ’16 said. “It’s something the student body has been supportive of for a long time, and it’s really good to see student input being highly valued here.”
Mixed gender housing was first formally proposed by the YCC in a December 2013 report that was eventually submitted to then-Yale College Dean Mary Miller, said YCC vice president Maia Eliscovich Sigal ’16. The report included the results of a survey, conducted during the 2012-13 academic year, which found that 90 percent of the class of 2016 supported or was indifferent to the proposed change.
Holloway said that when the report was initially presented in 2013, it was too late to implement the policy for the upcoming school year. This year, however, the YCC reopened the conversation at the start of the semester, Herbert said.
The discussion flowed through various administrative channels before approval, Holloway told the News. In addition to securing masters’ and deans’ approval, administrators had to ensure that new housing software that will be used in this spring’s draw is ready to go, he said.
Council of Masters Chair and Silliman College Master Judith Krauss said the residential college masters voted unanimously at their Nov. 7 meeting to approve the measure.
Nine out of nine freshmen interviewed said they would support mixed gender housing for sophomores, but only two said they would themselves be interested in taking advantage of the change.
In his email, Holloway thanked the YCC for its “thoughtful recommendations,” as well as masters, deans and housing committees for their help in working out the policy’s logistical details.
Despite widespread student support for the change, housing committee members and administrators interviewed expressed conflicting opinions about potential issues in the policy’s implementation.
Kelly Wu ’16, a member of Timothy Dwight College’s housing committee, said the policy would be “not at all” difficult to implement.
“The people who want it will just tell me, and we’ll implement it,” Wu said. “In fact, I think it will decrease drama because it expands the number of options for people, and they’ll be more likely to feel accommodated.”
But Simone Seiver ’17, a member of Pierson College’s housing committee, said the new option could significantly complicate how housing committees rearrange groups that do not get the configuration they originally wanted.
For example, she said, if six groups want a six-person suite but only four such suites are available, the two suites who drew the lowest number in the housing draw may have to live together in a twelve-person suite. If one of those two suites is a mixed-gender group but one is not, either the single-gender suite will be forced into a mixed-gender arrangement, or one of the single-gender groups that drew a higher number will be forced to give up its suite.
“In a way, the mixed gender group gets protected in the process,” Seiver said.
While Krauss said that she has every reason to believe that extending the measure to sophomores will go as smoothly as it did when it became available to upperclassmen, Seiver said sophomores are more likely to be forced into unwanted arrangements because they have fewer options, as they draw for suites after the upperclassmen have already selected their rooms.
Seiver added that the difficulty of implementation will depend entirely on each college’s makeup and the suites that come forward. The process could turn out to be much less complicated, she said, or much more complicated, depending on how many mixed gender suites emerge.
Still, Seiver said she strongly supports mixed gender housing.
“I know that mixed-gender housing will complicate room selection for sophomores in Pierson, but the troubles are, without any doubt, worth it,” she said.