Officials, student activists on university’s new gender-inclusive housing policy

By Tanya Solorzano
Bell Gardens, CA

Princeton student Arlene Gamio had to worry about more than just passing classes and getting homesick: As someone with a non-binary gender identity, Gamio had to grapple with living in a dormitory restricted to a gender with which they did not identify.

That arrangement made the already-difficult task of coming to terms with gender identity even more difficult, they (Gamio’s preferred pronoun) said.

This upcoming school year, university officials say students will encounter a different system: Princeton will launch a gender-inclusive housing policy, joining a host of colleges across the country. Students will have the option to identify themselves as one of several gender options on housing documents and will be allowed to choose roommates regardless of their gender.

Gamio believes the policy will make life easier for other non-binary students. “It’s a human right,” they said.

Princeton officials agree. Vice President for Campus Life Rochelle Calhoun said the policy change is meant to strengthen students’ sense of community within their school. It is definitely progress, she said, but she believes there is still a lot of work to be done to fully support the LGBT community at Princeton.

Dean of the College Jill Dolan says she is “very proud” of this new policy and, like Calhoun, believes that it was a long time coming.

Students will still be able to live in single-gender rooms if they prefer; therefore, Calhoun and Gamio believe, the new policy is not altogether groundbreaking.

Calhoun said there has been little official pushback, except for an email from someone telling her that she would probably go to hell for her support of the policy. She said, laughing, “I might be, but not for this!”

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