A dorm is a student’s work space, most visited hangout and home away from home. However, for students who are trans and nonbinary, the dorm can also be a difficult place to live.
Personally, I know several people who identify as genders other than male or female and some who don’t identify as any gender at all.
These students who have to go back to their dorms after a long day of classes take on the added stressor of being misgendered every time they try to relax in their dorm or possibly dealing with a roommate who does not respect their gender identity.
The solution: gender-neutral housing.
Currently, Mercer has students assigned to residence halls by sex assigned at birth. So where does this leave Mercer students who do not identify with their sex assigned at birth? They have no other option but to live in residence halls that do not accurately represent their gender identity.
This is where gender-neutral housing comes in.
This form of housing would grant these students a sense of relief at not having to constantly misgender themselves when living on campus as well as getting to live with someone who is understanding of them and their pronouns.
Many colleges such as Fort Lewis College in Colorado, Boston University, Penn State and several Ivy Leagues including Harvard, Dartmouth and Columbia University all have gender- neutral housing options.
These institutions have made a commitment to inclusiveness and are understanding that college dorm life is not a one size fits all situation.
Gender-neutral housing would not only help Mercer’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer ( LGBTQ) community, but it would also allow all students to choose a roommate based off who they believe is the best fit for them.
I often hear students complain about their roommate having different study habits, sleep schedules, issues with hygiene and many other problems.
This could be eliminated as most gender-neutral housing programs assume that the participant has someone in mind they would like to room with.
So, if you have a best friend who happens to be a different gender but uses your pronouns and wakes up at 8 a.m. just like you do, then this option is perfect.
Mercer isn’t on many LGBTQ friendly lists for colleges, if any at all.
Overall, the lack of a gender-neutral housing option puts Mercer at a disadvantage compared to other schools.
It appears as if Mercer is excluding an entire group of individuals, indicating a negative campus life experience for LGBTQ students. This can be a determining factor for some high school seniors who are LGBTQ and in the process of deciding where to go to school.
At the end of the day, roommates are the people you spend a majority of your college experience with, and gender is a very insignificant factor to base such an important decision on.
College students are adults, and a roommate is a roommate regardless of gender.