Gender neutral housing expansion

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gnhAs March approaches (along with Spring Break), so is housing selection. Some of us dread this time of year, and some of us are just freshmen excited to be moving into a suite, any suite. Others are ready to make the transition to the townhouses for their senior year. No matter which way, we all have to buckle down, pay our housing deposits, and go through the lottery.

The Office of Residence Life has made several changes to the process that students should and will be interested in hearing about.

Last year, for the 2012-2013 housing selection process, gender neutral housing was offered for the very first time. See “Gender neutral housing comes to Bryant” in the December 2, 2011 issue of the Archway (found at http://www.bryantarchway.com/ gender-neutral-housing-comes- to-bryant/) for the first article about this progressive change.

This year, gender neutral housing will continue to be an option for students with one monumental change. Students with a full suite of any gender make-up can now apply to be placed in any residential area of Bryant University. This means the townhouses and every village hall (besides freshmen halls 14, 15, and 16) including Hall 17!

If a student is interested in gender neutral housing, he or she should email Pam Malyk, the Senior Assistant Director of Residence Life (pmalyk@bryant. edu), for more information. If a student already has a full suite of mixed-gender residents, he or she should also contact Pam to indicate that their group is interested in gender neutral housing and which area they’re looking to be put in the lottery for.

As long as any housing group emails her with their intent to seek gender neutral housing by March 22, the group will be entered into the lottery just like any other group in the area of their choosing. Gender neutral groups will not receive any special treatment and SCNs will be the deciding factor like any other group.

When I spoke to Pam about gender neutral housing, she commented, “I’m excited about the changes. I think it gives the student population who asked about gender neutral housing what they originally wanted.” She also noted that “[ResLife] will not dictate who goes in which bedroom,” which means that the group leader can place pairs of people, regardless of their genders being the same, in whichever rooms they decide on.

She also stressed that this is not just for GLBT students and that students of all orientations can participate in gender neutral housing. The program is new and as with any groundbreaking program, there will be problems that need to be discussed. “Roommate conflicts and removals with the expansion of the program are things we’ll have to look at…we can’t guarantee that somebody that wants to move out of a gender neutral suite will be able to be placed in another gender neutral suite.”

When Bryant alum Jonathan De Costa ’12 heard about this new change, he said, “This is a big step towards equality. Just having gender neutral housing on campus was a big deal last year, and now that students can live with whoever they want wherever they want, Bryant’s really on the right track.”

Along with the notable difference in gender neutral housing, Residence Life is making other changes to streamline and further improve the housing process as well. The whole process is being shortened from 5 weeks to 3 weeks and will function a little more like the course selection process over time. With the program ResLife uses, they are able to run multiple programs at once – meaning they can run multiple lotteries on one day.

The squatting and Greek Hall 1 processes will overlap this year, and all suite selections have been shortened to a week as well. As far as the townhouses go, all lotteries are being combined into one week, and juniors will want to know that based on ResLife’s current numbers, the senior class (or those with a SCN 5 or above) will be able to fill the townhouses, and therefore juniors will not be allowed to live there. Two of the other biggest changes are options that will no longer be offered. Hall 10, which most students know as the all-girls hall, will no longer be just that. Instead, 2 of those floors will be designated as female-only floors, but the other two will be opened up to male and gender neutral suites.

Pam assured me that this wasn’t an attempt to make anyone uncomfortable, as she said the main reason they decided this was “in an effort to meet students’ requests and even out the gender breakdown across the suite village.”

The other change comes from a different pilot program started last year. Single rooms in the suite villages were offered last year, but due to the lack of interest the program garnered, it will not be an option this year.

The most exciting change, at least for those of you planning on living in the suites next year, was described to me by Pam Malyk, “Based on our research, we’ve changed our contract to allow pod-type/Keurig coffee machines.” So if you want to bring your k-cup machines or even your Tassimo, have at it! Residence Life staff is being trained on the types allowed and prohibited, but this change in the housing contract will come into effect in September so keep them at home for now.

Now that you know all this, good luck with housing, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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