The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Gender-blind housing option for Bryan Hall

The Office of Campus Life recently posted housing information online for the 2011-2012 academic year. The latest addition: gender-blind housing in Bryan Hall.

According to the college website, “Coed groups must be in equal pairings, meaning each room within a suite must be single sex, but the suite itself may be coed.”

This means bathrooms will be unisex in coed suites next year.

This may not faze older students who are currently living in on-campus apartments, but to students living in the dorms, it is a new option.

“Guilford College has never had gender-blind housing,” said Associate Dean for Campus Life Jennifer Agor.

A new idea such as gender-blind housing generates concerns about how Guilford’s image will be affected.

“I can understand that advertising Guilford with a gender-blind housing option may be tough for our admissions representatives because some may view this as a housing free-for-all,” said senior Brian Daniel. “However, this is an important issue surrounding higher education.”

Appealing to parents and prospective students is important to the college, and gender-blind housing may or may not affect the appeal.

“Gender-blind housing seems to be a reasonable option,” said David Turner, parent of sophomore Karen Turner. “Friendships are generally gender-blind, and rooming with a friend would probably enhance the college experience.”

On the other hand, some parents may not approve of the new coed suite option.

“Most students feel as if college is their time to learn how to be adults on their own, and this is true in many ways,” said Susie Whalen, mother of sophomore Daniel Whalen. “However, coed suites have the potential to create unexpected situations that the students may not consider, but parents would. Possible examples could be privacy concerns, indiscretion, modesty, respect, violence, etc.”

Prospective student Amanda Wimer said she would be comfortable living in gender-blind housing and that it did not affect her image of Guilford College.

“Gender-blind housing shows others that at Guilford, everyone is equal and it doesn’t matter what gender you are,” said Wimer.

From an administrative perspective, gender-blind housing could bring unnecessary hassle for the Office of Campus Life.

“I do worry about people wanting to live with their boyfriend or girlfriend and that’s really why they want gender-blind housing, and then when they break up, there are issues with that,” said Agor.

The new policy also raises questions about how it will affect the Guilford community. Guilford’s student body is diverse; therefore, it is important to consider all of the community’s interests, especially the minority groups on campus.

“What happens when the student wants to be known as a different gender pronoun than their biological sex?” said senior Caiden Hogan. “Do they need to switch rooms? Will they have that option? These are important questions to ask because the transgender population is so small on campus.”

“It is important to have an option available for transgender individuals because it does happen,” said Hogan. “Diversity is an important value at Guilford, and it has been consistent for the entire four years that I have been here.”

Guilford has often been criticized by students for changing its image.

“Guilford College stands as a beacon for free thought and open acceptance,” said sophomore Austen Applegate. “By taking the step for gender-blind housing, Guilford is assuring that it will continue to be a place where everyone is a valuable part of the community.”

“Perhaps if Guilford makes this progressive and needed change, other schools will follow suit,” said Daniel. 

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