Co-ed housing slated for Fall 2015
by Anessia Hubler
UAF plans to select a floor of Bartlett Hall where people of all genders may share rooms in Fall 2015. The bathrooms on this floor will also be gender neutral, meaning people who identify with any gender can use them. UAF will be the first college in Alaska to do this and could be setting a trend for other University of Alaska campuses.
“Not all students feel comfortable using single-gender bathrooms or living in a male or female labeled room. Gender inclusive housing would allow students to select who they want to live with regardless of gender,” Megan Connaghan, Skarland Hall resident director, said.
This living area is for people of the opposite sex who want to live together like: boyfriends with girlfriends, brothers with sisters and close friends that would feel more comfortable living together than with someone else.
“It’s a way to give students a way to be open and live with whoever they want,” Dmitri Fish, a freshman health and social care management student, said.
According to Residence Life this may be more helpful to students than some may realize because UAF has a growing number of students who are transgender. This living area will give these students a safe and comfortable place to live.
“I have transgender friends that are scared to use gender-specific bathrooms, so they have to watch what they eat and drink,” Alicia Mackle, freshman business student, said.
The transgender students are afraid to use gender-specific bathrooms because they are unsure which bathrooms to use and worry that they may be judged or made fun of by other students said UAF student Michael Kelly.
“For example a transgender student might look like a girl but uses an all-males bathroom, and to most people this looks wrong,” Kelly said. According to Kelly, this floor will allow the student to get rid of these worries and live life with more ease because transgender people are usually embarrassed to go into gender specific bathrooms and sometimes even get teased about using some bathrooms.
“It seems like it’s going to be a safe place for people who feel uncomfortable. Personally, if my best friend was a guy I’d live with him,” freshman Ashland Williams said. If this floor is successful then UAF will begin to make other floors like it, according to Residence Life.
Some students are worried about problems coming from this new living situation. “What if people try sharing a shower, invading other peoples’ space – or if a boyfriend and girlfriend break up. Won’t that cause problems?” Walter Baxter, freshman computer science student who lives in Moore Hall, said.
Some other students are not worried because these situations will be handled like they would under any other circumstances. According to Residence Life, there are also rules against a lot of these things, such as sharing showers. Also, Residence Life workers are trained to diffuse situations if something comes up and if a student wants to change rooms it would be treated the same way it is now, where students would fill out a room change request form.
“I believe a floor opened for a community of unique sexuality and couples sound fantastic,” Christina Edwia, a freshman mathematics student, said.
According to Residence Life, due to strong student incentive, this floor will be in Bartlett Hall. “In the end this will help transgender people to be able to be themselves and have a lot of stress taken from them so that they can focus on their schooling,” Kelly said.
Correction March 4, 2015:
An earlier version of this article identified Michael Kelly as President of the GSA, which is incorrect, the President of the GSA is Brandy Flores. Also, the GSA was referred to as the Gay-Straight Alliance in an earlier version of this article. It has been corrected to reflect their current name, the Gender and Sexuality Alliance. Also, in a previous version of this article, gender neutral bathrooms were mentioned as accessible to both males and females, the article now reflects that gender neutral bathrooms are open to people who identify with any gender.