Gender inclusive housing to be offered to first-year students next fall

November 28, 2016

Dillon Taunton

dtaunton@uccs.edu

     After a first successful semester, freshmen living on campus can opt to live in gender inclusive housing starting next fall.

     This semester, 16 students are living in gender inclusive housing, which will continue in the spring and be available to first-year students beginning the ‘17-‘18 academic year.

     UCCS offered gender inclusive housing as an option to upperclassmen in the Alpine Village apartments for the ‘16- ‘17 school year.

     Students who opt for gender inclusive housing are placed with suite-mates of any gender, but individual rooms are not coed, according to the director of Residence Life and Housing, Ralph Giese.

     At the end of this semester, housing will conduct an assessment to evaluate the success of gender inclusive suites in its trial period.

     “We will get the participants together and do some type of focus group or questionnaire to see what we can do differently, what we could do better or what else students may need,” said Giese.

     “We did a lot of research on gender inclusive housing; the majority of state universities offer some form of it, but it doesn’t necessarily look exactly like our program,” said Megan Bell, executive director of Auxiliary Community and Learning Initiatives.

     “Especially in our apartment community, we were the only campus in Colorado among state institutions that didn’t offer gender-inclusive housing in the apartments, so we decided to start there.”

     No issues were reported to housing regarding the gender-inclusive apartments, which is a positive sign, said Bell.

     “One measure of success has been that we haven’t had any issues reported. It has been like any other suite, which is our goal. We didn’t want (gender-inclusive housing) to be an odd thing. We wanted to incorporate it with our community,” said Bell.

     Due to no issues being reported, housing is expected to expand the program to first-year students starting next school year, said Bell.

     Shared private rooms are not an option for students living in gender-inclusive housing, according to Giese.

     “We will not be putting a mixed gender into a shared room. It is important for anyone opting into this to maintain their own privacy,” said Giese.

     Besides shared private rooms, all other options, including themed floors and any buildings, are available to students who opt to live in gender-inclusive housing.

     Because of the program’s success, students should apply for gender inclusive housing sooner than later, said Giese.

     “All of our placements are done using a set of rules, and those who apply earliest are placed first. If someone applies late they may not get their first preferences, because students are placed based on application date,” said Giese.

     Students who do not receive gender inclusive placement can speak with Giese if they have a need for this housing option.

     Giese hopes this program will provide more students with a comfortable on-campus living experience.

     “We have looked at implementing gender inclusive housing for many years. It comes from a need to create inclusive communities where everyone feels like they’re appreciated and treated equally,” said Giese.