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Gender-inclusive housing committee works to improve housing

Community Advisors share concerns with Residence Life about brand new RLCs leading the hiring process. Photo by Helena Gruensteidl.

The Department of Residence Life and the Gender-Inclusive Housing Committee conducted a survey last week to gauge student opinions on gender-inclusive housing in residence halls. While certain halls have both gender specific and mixed gender floors, the availability of gender-inclusive housing on campus remains limited.

The committee is using this survey to gauge the housing needs of the current underclassmen at the College. “The major intention of this survey is to really help meet the needs of the underclassmen on campus as well of future Grinnell students” says Geneva Guadalupe ’17, a member of the committee. “I think it’s important we understand what students’ needs are on campus, whether in terms of housing or other personal situations as we try to move to improve the housing situation on campus”.

With the new academic year coming soon and the final results of the survey coming in, the aim of the committee is to have largely gender inclusive housing across campus with pockets of gender specific housing for students who prefer it.

“I think the big things [are] wiping the slate clean for students who require such housing, and starting over based on student representation and what students want their communities to look like and specifically the number of restrooms,” said Leah Reuber, Assistant Director of Residence Life.

The results of the survey are slowly pouring in, and as expected, students have expressed overwhelming support for more gender-inclusive housing. However, a large portion of the student body remains uninformed about not only the current plans for gender inclusivity, but how the committee plans to uphold these in the future.

The survey served as a barometer of student perspective on an issue that is intrinsically linked to every aspect of life at Grinnell. The process of realizing the need for change in terms of housing began early last year.

“There seemed to be a natural opportunity and need for us to bridge how our housing works with the needs of our students,” Reuber said. “Over the summer, this was something I realized to work on, and with the help of Lauren Myers [technical assistant] I reached out to several administrators for suggestions for student representatives.”

This led to the formation of the Gender-Inclusive Housing Committee. The committee is a coalition of students and staff members from Residence Life working together and providing input on this particular issue. The committee includes Joe Rolón, Director of Residence Life, Mira Lamb ’17, Toby Baratta ’17 and Zach Steckel ’18, as well as Guadalupe.

The members of the committee span from those involved with Residence Life to those on SGA.

“I received an email at the beginning of the academic year saying that I had been recommended to be a part of this committee,” Guadalupe said. “This was partially due to my campus involvement, and my involvement with Res Life, as I had previously been a CA.”

Baratta and Steckel both serve on the SGA cabinet, as Diversity and Outreach Coordinator and Assistant Treasurer, respectively.

“I was not invited to be on the committee as a member of SGA specifically, but rather as a student who had been involved in Res Life. I personally think it’s a fantastic initiative, and I am glad to be a part of it. Since Toby and I are both on SGA cabinet, we realized SGA was going to have to be a little more involved than we previously believed,” Steckel said.

In terms of longer impacts of the committee, Guadalupe believes that it is not wise for the committee to be disbanded immediately after it has achieved its goal of attaining gender inclusive housing.

“I think it’s really important we continue to ensure that the Committee remains in order to keep a check on the efforts and progress that they have made to have gender inclusive housing on campus, and make certain that they continue to deal with student needs on this issue,” Guadalupe said.

The committee plans to hold a Town Hall at 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. in JRC 101 on Monday, March 13th in order to answer questions and provide more information to the student body at large.

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    Mike VitaioliMar 12, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Let’s put ALL of our efforts into saving the Planet. Who cares if a male or female is in the next room.