University of California Los Angeles is the latest college to consider adding coed dorm rooms to the campus housing mix in a move intended to better accommodate transgender students, school officials said.
Although some campuses around the country give permission for heterosexual students to live in coed rooms with their boyfriends, girlfriends or platonic friends of the opposite sex, UCLA housing officials say they plan to avoid resembling a MTV “The Real World” situation.
Office of Residential Life Director Suzanne Seplow explained to the Associated Press their desire to aid transgender students. “Given that most of our housing systems are structured under the concept of a binary gender – that there's male or female – for folks that don't fit into those categories, finding housing is challenging," she commented.
Rutgers University began a pilot program in the fall that allows male and female students to live in the same dormitory room. The program is meant to allow gay students feel more welcomed.
More than 100 undergraduates had the option of selecting a roommate of the opposite sex, campus officials said. The pilot program allows gay, lesbian and transgender students to choose either male or female roommates.
The new option at Rutgers – called gender-neutral housing – was created at the request of gay, lesbian and transgender students who objected to the school’s rules that require undergraduates to choose roommates of the same sex.
As UCLA considers a similar program, Seplow said students would not be forced to room with a student of the opposite gender. Student councils recommended the policy change last year and housing officials could draft the policy to be implemented as soon as next fall, according to AP.
Every year, there are a handful of transgender students who could benefit from the policy by living with a member of the gender they're transitioning to, Seplow said. The policy hasn't been finalized, but it's not intended to accommodate romantic relationships between heterosexual couples in the dorms, she noted.
Other colleges offering coed housing include Columbia University, George Washington University and Ohio University, among others.