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Gender-Neutral Housing Coming This Spring

Published: Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11

The new proposal will benefit the LGBTQ community, but the College hopes it will achieve more than that. "I think that there's no way to talk about gender-neutral housing and not say, ‘Well, it does serve those students who are GLBT or identify as that,' and I think that's awesome. We should be serving those students," Driesen said. "But I don't think those are the only students that it serves. It's cool when you can do something that serves a community that historically has been marginalized, but also serves a broader community."

In attempting to serve the broader community, however, some students may not feel so comfortable. Daniel Akuma '14, an international student from Nigeria, expressed some concerns. "I suggest that international students be conferred with immensely on this issue," he said. "A lot of international students come from cultures where single-gender-by-room residences like McBride need some getting used to, not to talk of single-gender-by-half-of-the-room. While a few of the students might overcome the culture shock speedily, knowing that not everything is going to be like home here, a lot of others will likely find this difficult to live with. Even if all of us are at home with the idea, a lot of our parents freak out on issues like this. Seriously, this is the sort of things they look at when consenting to our studying a thousand miles away from home."

Parents may have a hard time adjusting to this new idea. "For parents, the concept is a little more shocking than to our generation because it is such a new idea out there," Walsh said. "But I think it's a really positive thing, and we want to make as many students feel as comfortable as we can on this campus."

The accommodation of a variety of needs and situations is, undeniably, a main goal of the gender-neutral housing project.

Driesen stressed that Kenyon students, as adults, are responsible enough to be able to determine the best living situation for themselves.

"This change is really about offering more options to our students and recognizing that people — adults — get to choose who they live with," she said. "We want our students to be able to do that, to be comfortable in their homes. It's not about choosing something for someone; it's a completely opt-in policy. It's really empowering for students. Just the fact that it's there demonstrates how much of an inclusive community we are, and that's one of the really special things about Kenyon — its community — and this holds us to our own standards."

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