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Student research conducted for gender-neutral housing

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The front of Mercer Hall.

The front of Mercer Hall.

Jen Andrews

Jen Andrews

The front of Mercer Hall.

Julianna Tollett, Contributing Writer

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Junior James Stair, chemistry and women and gender studies major, is the president of Mercer’s LGBTQ group, Common Ground. Stair is currently conducting research for his senior project.

His research focuses on gender-neutral housing, the interest in this type of housing at Mercer and the effects that this would have on Mercer’s campus.

Gender-neutral housing can be described as on campus living arrangements that base rooming not on gender or sexual preference, but instead allows students to choose their roommates and suitemates based on similar interests and lifestyle choices, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.

Essentially, gender neutral housing allows anyone to live with anyone.

According to CampusPride.org, 265 colleges in the United States have implemented gender-neutral housing on their campuses.

Currently, only three colleges in Georgia are listed as allowing gender-neutral housing on their campuses: Emory University, Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University.

Stair said if implemented, this type of housing would be beneficial to Mercer’s campus as a whole.

“LGBTQ students would have less problems coming out, transexual students would feel more comfortable with their living arrangements and straight students would be able to live with their friends,” Stair said.

Gender neutral housing is extremely important to Stair, and the research that he is conducting is something that he has and will be working on for a long time.

“I have been working on this since the beginning of the semester. I have gotten IRB (Internal Review Board) approval. I have been reading the literature to see what a proposal should look like. I have also been looking at the benefits of this type of housing,” Stair said.

Research on gender neutral housing is something that affects Stair personally.

“As a gay man, coming out is always a weird experience. It’s always a mixed bag, you never know how people are going to react,” he said. “There is a lot of anxiety that comes from working up the courage to come out to somebody and you’re not sure how they’re going to react.”

He said his own experiences helped shape his idea for this research and that he hopes it could help others.

“So, luckily, I was able to come out to my freshman roommates and find out what they thought about it before coming to Mercer, so that I didn’t have to have that extra thing to worry about coming to college,” he said. “However, not everyone has that luxury when they come to college… but having [gender neutral housing] may be a little bit better.”

Stair is working hard this year in hopes to submit the research so that gender neutral housing can be an option for Mercer students in the future.

“[I am] going to submit a proposal to the Dean of Students, which higher administration will decide on. This will hopefully come on December 2018, if there is enough interest,” Stair said.

Stair also explained what will happen after he submits the proposal, and what steps he will take to ensure that his research is being presented properly.

“After December, there will be time for the administration to think about it. I will also properly advertise this so that people can understand what this is so that it is an option for the future,” Stair said.

If you are interested in taking Stair’s survey, you can find it online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7ZNLDR6 . The survey is open now through spring semester.

“I am always looking for more responses and perspectives from every [person] regardless of their opinion as well,” he said.

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Student research conducted for gender-neutral housing