Editorial: Wanted: All-Inclusive Housing
Finding solutions in the ongoing discussion about trans and non-binary gendered housing on university campuses is a sensitive process.
Many state universities require students to spend at least one year living on campus. This ensures those universities have to make housing inclusive enough to accommodate different genders, religions, sexual orientations or disabilities.
Youngstown State University — a commuter school — isn’t necessarily beholden to the same requirements that schools with mandatory residence policies are, but that doesn’t mean efforts to make campus housing more inclusive should be viewed as less critical.
As reported in today’s piece, “Transcending Gendered Housing,” Eddie Howard, associate vice president in the division of student affairs, Danielle Meyers and Carol Seawood — the director of Housing and Residence Life and the property manager of the University Courtyards, respectively — will be meeting to address housing issues, including inclusivity.
The meeting — and any forward thinking action borne from it — comes at a pivotal time in YSU’s history as a commuter campus.
Since the beginning of President Jim Tressel’s administration, there has been a push to not only increase enrollment numbers, but increase the number of students living on campus.
The new Honors College encourages participating students to live on campus to enhance their involvement with school events. International and out-of-state students — another demographic marked for increase by the new administration — also tend to live on campus.
To prepare for this increase in campus living, two new housing structures — University Edge on 5th Avenue and The Enclave on Wick Avenue — have been cleared for construction.
As YSU physically builds and prepares for an influx of on-campus residents, policies emphasizing liberty and inclusivity must also be built and prepared.
There’s a few quick fixes YSU can begin working on to help improve conditions for transgendered or non-binary students hoping to live on campus.
Providing students with housing applications that include a space to self-identify and a specific service for matching LGBT students with LGBT friendly roommates are some options.
Better still, change the policy to assume that students in 2016 will be accepting of their LGBT classmates, and instead provide an “opt-out” selection for those who — for whatever reason — cannot tolerate an LGBT roommate.
Gender-inclusive shower and bathroom options should also be included in the construction of the new housing units. It’s understandable why the dorms and Courtyard apartments would be hesitant to tear up their existing buildings to add in a third set of bathrooms. That defense runs dry, though, when talking about brand new construction.
Hopefully the contracting companies responsible for building the new apartments have been instructed to build transgender and non-binary students into their plans.
We hope that YSU’s plans to increase enrollment through out-of-state and international student recruitment is successful, but we also hope that those students will find YSU a university ready to accept them as they come and willing to work to find them appropriate housing.
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