All SRU students have a right to safety, and that right should extend to on-campus housing.
We at The Rocket believe that gender-neutral housing will help promote safety and comfort within the residence halls, and provide a better experience for students who live on campus.
The main purpose of gender-neutral housing is to provide students the option to live with people of any gender.
This is particularly aimed at transgender students and students of varying sexual orientations because these students are often subject to harassment, bullying and being misunderstood by other students. Also, transgender students at SRU are often subject to living alone because they don’t feel comfortable living with who Residence Life assigns them, making it difficult for transgender students to make friends and have a sense of belonging within the residence hall.
The Rocket staff would really like to see a gender-neutral housing option created with the best interest of these students in mind.
However, we believe that there needs to be a policy implemented to ensure that students with definite reasons for gender-neutral housing are the students receiving the opportunity. It would not be fair to those students that need it if there were other students abusing the system in order to live with their significant other.
We understand that if gender-neutral housing were to become available on SRU’s campus, some other problems may arise. This could range from students not being able to afford the housing for the specific living arrangements and not being available to incoming freshmen.
The current proposal will allow six Rock Apartments to become gender neutral, opening the opportunity up to 24 students. The current price for the Rock Apartments is $2,785 a semester and that price is subject to change without notice. The main problem with this would be some students can only afford to live in traditional housing options in Rhoads and North Hall, which would exclude these students from being allowed to participate in the gender-neutral housing.
The Rock Apartments also have kitchens for students to use, which would require students to purchase groceries, as any student living in the Rock Apartments is not obligated to have a meal plan. Students who require gender-neutral housing may not have a car in order to purchase groceries, let alone be able to afford a meal plan.
Some students who require gender-neutral housing may also not feel comfortable living with three other roommates, as the Rock Apartments house four students in one apartment.
The 24 students would also be sophomores, juniors and seniors, excluding incoming freshman. Some incoming LGBTQIA+ and ally freshmen come to SRU specifically for RockOUT, the LGBTQIA+ and ally organization. RockOUT provides incoming LGBTQIA+ and ally freshmen a welcoming, accepting environment and that environment should extend to these students’ housing.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), one of the 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities, offers a gender-neutral housing opportunity for their students. This option is offered to students who absolutely need it, and is available for students ranging from freshman to seniors. There is a variety of room styles that the IUP students can choose from, including a two-person suite, a four-person suite and a two-person suite with a private bathroom.We feel IUP’s gender-neutral housing option is ideal and hope that, should SRU choose to implement it, the housing options would be similar.
We hope to see a gender-neutral housing option for students who really need it some day at Slippery Rock University, but before that can happen, the logistics really need to be worked out in order to provide the best option for students to feel happy and comfortable.