Gender neutral housing "flourishing"

Genesee Hall is thriving in its pilot semester of gender-neutral housing, earning the approval of students and faculty while successfully navigating the challenges of such living arrangements.

Celia Easton, director of Residence Life, reported positive feedback from students living in Genesee and even some parents who are happy their children are having the experience of living with mixed genders.

"I haven't heard anything about privacy concerns or roommate conflicts because of gender issues," Easton said.

Gender-neutral housing, provided for the first time this semester in Genesee Hall, allows groups of mixed-gender students to live in suite-style rooms together. In other residence halls, students are assigned to rooms based on gender classification.

Although the entire hall has been designated gender-neutral, not every suite in Genesee contains a mixed-gender arrangement of residents because demand did not exceed the capacity of the hall.

Easton said that there are no requirements that a student must meet in order to take advantage of gender-neutral housing. "There are lots of very good reasons for people to want to choose a mixed-gender suite," she said.

Genesee Hall Residence Director Nykki McCawthan, currently in graduate school and pursuing a career in school counseling, said she was excited to be involved with the "flourishing" program. "What an amazing project to take on," she said.

"Every hall has their own residence education model" that is designed to meet the needs of its students, McCawthan said. While Genesee has hosted activities ranging from personal finance education to line dancing, McCawthan said the hall has been programming especially to address not just gender issues, but also the broader topic of diversity.

McCawthan said she has been "very pleased with the conversation we've been having" on meeting the needs of all residents. She added that her staff of residence assistants has been "so dedicated" to advancing the goals of the hall.

"Gender-neutral housing … provides a safe and comfortable environment for students who are not comfortable living in the traditional housing," said sophomore David O'Donnell, a resident living with three males and two females. "I think this is very important because Geneseo is our home and no one should ever feel uncomfortable about who they are in their home."

A formal assessment of the program will be conducted in late October and November. Residence Life will ask for student input and conduct focus groups in order to identify which aspects of the program are working well as well as explore possible improvements.