Last semester, a group of students pushed to introduce gender blind housing on campus. While the university does not plan to formally amend its housing policy, officials say that they are working to address concerns through more private means.

A variety of student groups and administrative sources have raised concerns about a lack of alternative housing options for individuals with medical and non-medical needs, especially those of LBGTQ students. They suggest increasing the number of single occupancy rooms and creating upperclassmen housing options for mixed-gender living arrangements.

The university does not plan on making any significant changes to the traditional housing system in the near future, but will, however, continue to work with students on an individual basis.

“We had productive conversations and agreed it’s important that our campus housing system is welcoming to all our students,” Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson wrote in an email. “There is not a plan to add specific gender-neutral housing options at this time, but there is an ongoing interest in assuring that students are aware of the options so that we can provide a safe and welcoming place to live on campus.”

The Georgetown University Student Association’s Senate Student Life Committee drafted the Alternative Housing Options Bill to address the housing concerns of members of the LGBTQ community. In response, the Georgetown administration assured GUSA that the university is making serious efforts to work with students on a case-by-case basis.

According to Josh Mogil (SFS ’11), the GUSA Senator who introduced the bill, the proposal hopes to provide safety and comfort for LGBTQ community members concerned with the current residential living options.

“Every year there are a few students — not all of you know about this — that call the school, before they even get here, who are nervous about housing for X reason, and these are normally LGBTQ students,” Mogil said. “There is very little that just one office can do, so our goal was to bring together a ton of other offices to make everyone aware that maybe there are better things they can do outside the box.”

The administration also called a meeting that included leadership from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Resource Center, Georgetown University Housing Services, Academic Resource Center, Women’s Center and the Office of Residence Life.

Campus departments are currently making smaller-scale changes and taking greater efforts to make the housing selection process more accommodating.. The LGBTQ Resource Center works continuously to foster greater awareness of housing-related issues and to create more of an outlet for concerned students according to Sivagami Subbaraman, director of the LGBTQ Resource Center.

“What we are trying to do at our level is to work with offices to put the message out that we are open as a [Catholic] university to having these conversations, and that we will work with [students] to do what makes them feel safe,” Subbaraman said.

Both Mogil and Subbaraman hope that the Campus Housing Roommate Selection System will allow incoming students to connect with and chose a roommate regardless of gender, sexual identity or sexual orientation in the future. The new version of the survey would include more questions to test roommate compatibility. The  invitation for students to contact the university if they have any concerns will also be featured prominently.

A second follow-up meeting is also planned for later this semester. Campus administrators acknowledge that while the housing system still has some work to be done, the process has improved.

“Students have to find out or negotiate, but it’s gotten better to a point where now we work with some students, and we help them navigate the system,” Subbaraman said. “They are no longer on their own; before they were.”

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