UF group wants to pick roommates of any gender


University of Florida students wait in line for the elevator while moving into Rawlings Hall on the UF campus Friday, August 17, 2012.

Doug Finger / Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 12:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 2:51 p.m.

A group of students is pressing University of Florida officials for permission to choose roommates of any sex in campus housing.

Facts

Change.org petition

View the coalition's petition on Change.org: "University of Florida: Create an inclusive housing option on campus!"

Gators Coalition for an Inclusive Campus wants to create space in residence halls for inclusive housing. But first, the coalition's officers need the support of students.

Coalition president and UF women's studies junior Marla Munro, 21, said UF Housing and Residence Education administrators told her they wanted to see students supporting the initiative.

Students in UF residence halls now can only have roommates of the same gender, said Sharon Blansett, assistant to the associate vice president for student affairs.

Depending on the hall, students live in coed floors, sections, apartments or suites.

Gators Coalition for an Inclusive Campus has posted a Change.org petition titled "University of Florida: Create an inclusive housing option on campus!" for supporters to sign. The petition had 477 signatures as of this week. The goal is 5,000 signatures.

The proposal suggests a 2014-15 academic year trial period in the apartment-style rooms of Lakeside Residential Complex.

The coalition's officers have presented the proposal to several student groups, Munro said, including the Inter-Residence Hall Association.

The IRHA represents students who live on campus, said president Severin Walstad, a 21-year-old public relations senior. Walstad said he, too, wants to see whether students back the proposal.

"If we knew our students wanted this, we would take a stand on it immediately," he said.

Walstad did caution, though, that the demand for on-campus housing might complicate the issue if a designated inclusive area did not fill up.

Blansett said the Department of Housing and Residence Education received the proposal Jan. 31 and plans to take this spring and summer to examine it.

A number of colleges and universities around the country already have embraced gender-neutral housing, according to the National Student Genderblind Campaign. Among those are Columbia University, George Washington University, Emory University, Ohio University, Beloit College, SUNY Stony Brook and Ramapo College.

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