Q: How does gender-inclusive housing work?
Members of the rising sophomore, junior and senior classes have the opportunity to choose their own room assignments through the spring housing lottery process. Through this process, students find a roommate and together the students select a specific residence hall, then room assignment. Students who wish to take advantage of the gender-inclusive housing policy have the option of choosing a roommate of any biological sex or gender identity.
Q: Is gender-inclusive housing all on one floor or in one residence house?
No. There is no specific floor or “themed” house for students who choose the gender-inclusive housing option. The option is available to students who wish to reside in any of the college’s traditional or themed residence houses or on-campus apartments.
Q: What about bathrooms? Are they gender-inclusive too?
Yes. Nearly all bathrooms in Connecticut College have been coed for many years. This practice has contributed to a student culture which is very accepting of inclusive residential environments. Most academic buildings also have gender-inclusive bathrooms.
Q: How many people does this impact?
The policy applies to rising sophomores, juniors and seniors – the majority of whom qualify for single rooms within the College’s residence houses. There are only about 55 double rooms available to upperclassmen, so the policy affects only a small number of students who choose to take advantage of the option each year. However, this policy is very important to ensuring that all students feel fully comfortable and accepted in the Connecticut College community.
Q: Under this policy, can couples live together?
The Office of Residential Education and Living strongly recommends against couples of any orientation living with one another. Under the policy, however, couples are not banned from rooming together. Two women or two men who choose to live together are not questioned about the nature of their relationship, and we believe that requiring students who apply for gender-inclusive housing to explain their relationship is intrusive and unfair.
Q: Can students be randomly assigned to a roommate of the opposite sex?
No. First-year students and transfer students are assigned roommates of the same biological sex. Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors who wish to take advantage of gender-inclusive housing must enter into any roommate arrangement as willing partners. First-year and transfer students can live with someone of a different biological sex only by going through the College’s room change process, which takes place a few weeks into the fall semester.
Q: What if a student chooses to live with someone of the opposite biological sex or gender identity and becomes uncomfortable with the situation?
The College’s established room change process allows for reassignment in any living situation where there is a problem that cannot be resolved.
Q: Why can’t first-year students or transfer students participate?
The Office of Residential Education and Living maintains that the gender-inclusive housing option should be part of a process in which two people who know one another enter willingly into a roommate situation. Adapting to roommates who are different from themselves (in many possible ways) is part of all students’ learning experience, and we encourage students to try to work out their differences before resorting to a change process. If they are not successful, the College’s room change process is available beginning in the third week of the semester. At that time, the Office of Residential Education and Living reviews and considers any mutual requests from first-year and transfer students for gender-inclusive housing.
Q: What if a first-year or transfer student is assigned to live with a member of the same biological sex and feels unsafe or threatened in this situation?
If a student feels threatened or unsafe in a roommate situation for any reason, he or she should contact the Office of Residential Education and Living immediately and alternate housing will be provided.
Q: Do any other colleges have this?
Yes. More than two dozen U.S. colleges and universities offer some form of gender-inclusive housing, including Wesleyan University, Swarthmore College, Clark University, Brown University, Sarah Lawrence College, Ithaca College, Hampshire College, Stanford University, Dartmouth College, Cornell University and Columbia University. While no two policies are exactly the same, Connecticut College’s policy most-closely resembles the policies at Clark University, Sarah Lawrence College, Wesleyan University and Hampshire College.
Q: Why is this policy important?
Connecticut College is committed to providing safe, comfortable and inclusive living environments for all students. This policy acknowledges the diversity of the student population at Connecticut College, including LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning) students, and extends the range of fair and inclusive housing options. The policy, originally requested by students, has been endorsed by the Student Government Association, the Campaign for Gender Identity Awareness, the LGBTQ Resource Center, the Office of Residential Education and Living, the Office of Student Life and the College’s senior administration.