Verbum Ultimum: Expanded Options for All

by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 5/3/12 10:00pm

Last week, the Housing Office announced that it would expand gender-neutral housing next fall to include Mid-Massachusetts Hall, the Lodge and sections of New Hampshire Hall ("College to expand gender-neutral housing options in fall," April 26). This change marks a positive step toward increasing housing flexibility, giving students the option to live with whomever they want in a wider variety of rooms without committing to the programming required of the affinity housing program in Fahey-McLane Hall.

Increasing gender-neutral housing options has been one of the primary desires of Dartmouth's LGBT community and of other students involved with gender and sexuality issues on campus. Because of this, it is somewhat surprising that this significant change in housing options has not seen greater publicity. Nevertheless, we applaud the advocacy groups on campus who have been pushing for this change as well as the College administration for not overtly connecting the new housing options to issues of gender and sexuality.

We recognize the importance of the existing gender-neutral affinity program and the programming it includes for those students seeking a community in which to discuss sexuality and gender. However, on-campus options for students who do not wish to be committed to such affinity programming are currently fairly limited. The gender-neutral rooms in the East Wheelock residence hall cluster are part of the cluster's own residential program, and there are very few coed suites available in Maxwell-Channing Cox and the Ledyard Apartments. Expanding gender-neutral housing to three additional residence halls provides much needed new options for the many students who feel constrained by the current offerings.

The LGBT community has been advocating for increased gender-neutral residential options for many years. However, it is not only members of this community that can benefit from this change. By not heavily emphasizing the connection between these new housing options and the LGBT community exclusively, the College has made gender-neutral housing more flexible and potentially more attractive to broader sections of campus.

Despite the positive effects of this expansion of gender-neutral housing, the College has not made a significant effort to publicize the changes. We hope that as students participate in room draw, they are aware of the additional housing opportunities that the new gender-neutral rooms can provide, regardless of their interest in gender and sexuality issues. We also recognize that this expansion does not resolve all of the concerns of the LGBT community, and we hope the College will continue moving forward in providing a wide range of living options for every group on campus.

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