By Julianna Roche
This time last year, Miami’s Associated Student Government (ASG) passed a bill in support of a gender-neutral housing option in certain Miami residence halls to help Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning students (GLBTQ) feel more comfortable living with roommates of their choice.
Unfortunately, several days ago, student body president Heath Ingram informed me that he saw no indication Miami was moving forward with the bill.
Despite being a heterosexual female student who is spending my senior year living contently in a house with three other girls, this seemed unfair to me.
I tried to relive move-in day my first year at Miami and could only imagine how much more nerve-wracking I would have felt unpacking my bras and panties had my roommate been a boy; especially one I was attracted to.
So imagine for example how uncomfortable a homosexual first-year might feel if their roommate was of the same sex, or worse, homophobic. Not only could this cause a lot of unnecessary tension for both roommates, but it could also lead to preventable disagreements and disputes.
Coming in as a first-year to an all-new college environment is hard enough. Why make it even harder for students by forcing them to live with roommates they might not feel comfortable with?
As Ingram expressed to me, Miami has its reservations about gender-neutral housing because it claims to be traditional. For example, how would they know for certain a student was gay or what if a student claiming to be homosexual gets too drunk one night and makes his female roommate feel uncomfortable?
Rather than raise questions without attempting to find answer however, Miami must look to other universities who have already made gender-neutral living arrangements a permanent housing option. One such example is prestigious Stanford University.
According to their online housing application, in order to qualify for a gender-neutral dorm, students must first get assigned to a gender-neutral designated residence in the regular draw process, which assigns students in mixed-gender groups and keep them together through group retention.
Next, they must participate in the in-house draw for their building and gender-neutral room assignments will take place. Finally, they must communicate with the Residence Student Affairs Specialist (RSAS) that they commit to a gender-neutral rooming option, specify a specific roommate(s) in mind prior to the in-house draw and finally, that roommate must also contact the RSAS individually or confirm that they too want to share the room.
As for claiming to be a traditional institution, doesn’t Miami also claim in its mission statement that it is an inclusive community, which cultivates an environment of diversity where students respect one another?
If brought to Miami, gender-neutral housing would provide just this—a safe, respectable and inclusive option for gay, lesbian and transgender students who may feel uncomfortable or unsafe having a roommate of the same sex.
The truth is that the issue of gender-neutral housing is not a matter of sexuality; it’s a matter of comfort, which is something every Miami student deserves.