Shore causes discussion about gender inclusivity

Two years ago, students came to campus looking forward to living in Shore Hall, where the basement was going to be devoted to gender inclusivity.

“There was an inexplicable love in the community of that hall,” said senior Molly Anne Marcotte, who lived on the hall from the fall of 2015 to the spring of 2016. “[We knew] that an immediate culture was set for us to not just be tolerant of, but to celebrate and be inclusive of every person’s identity.”

However, not enough students signed up to continue a gender inclusive hall this semester.

“This year, it was offered again, (but) only three students applied,” said Director of Residential Education and Housing Susanna Westberg. “You can’t keep one whole hall offline for three students.”

Instead, the hall was given to Guilford’s Quidditch team.

“I just know that we were offered (the basement) and it would’ve been really stupid of us not to take it,” said Quidditch Club president and senior Zach Wolfe. “I did find out later (that the basement was used as gender inclusive housing).”

Although Guilford still offers gender inclusive housing options, there are students who feel the loss of the Shore basement.

“It makes me uncomfortable (to) live on the first floor of Shore with a men’s identifying bathroom,” said senior Taylor Brown, who has lived on the gender inclusive hall for the past two years. “I would like to have a space where I feel safe (and) don’t have the constant dysphoria of people judging me for figuring out who I am.”

Still, housing is willing to work with students who request to live in gender inclusive housing options. In fact, they reached out to all the students who had applied to live in the basement of Shore.

“There wasn’t an interest for a living learning community that was around gender inclusiveness, but there are folks that are in gender inclusive housing on campus right now,” said MED Director Stephanie Chang. “Having both options is a good way to go, (and) it seems as if both options were there.”

The plan is that a gender inclusive hall will be offered in the spring.

“Even if it’s not in the basement of Shore, say it were a house or the wing of a suite in Bryan, I think the real intention is (to make) a safe space where people understand what the community expectations are, regardless of where it’s housed or how many people are in the community,” said Westberg.

In fact, some students hope that a future gender inclusive hall will not be located in a basement.

“Individuals of marginalized genders and social identities deserve spaces that are open, not hidden,” said Marcotte. “(Concealed spaces) perpetuate the oppression that has kept these folks in hiding for fear of discrimination for so long.”

In the future, there are plans to work on marketing gender inclusive housing more effectively.

“We need to be better about marketing gender inclusive housing,” said Chang. “That’s something that’s definitely on my radar.”

If you would like to find gender inclusive housing on campus, please contact Westberg at syoung@guilford.edu.