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Friday, Oct 31, 2014

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Smith House is one of the residence halls under consideration to host the gender neutral housing pilot program.

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OHIO creates gender neutral housing option

Students can apply for the pilot program


This fall, Ohio University will be one of at least 55 other universities in America to offer students the option of applying to live in gender neutral housing (GNH).

Residential Housing will begin assessing interest for the program as upperclass students complete their initial housing contract. Only those students who have applied for the pilot program have the potential to be placed in GNH. Specialized applications for the program will be handled similarly to those for other specialized living communities offered by Residential Housing.

According to an FAQ on the Residential Housing website about gender neutral housing, “Gender neutral housing (GNH) communities focus on creating an inclusive environment where students can live in the same room with any student - regardless of sex, gender, gender identity/expression or sexual orientation.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith explained why OHIO is exploring this housing option.

“GNH is an emerging topic in higher education and one that Ohio University wanted to pursue in keeping with OHIO’s commitment to diversity and providing inclusive environments,” he said. “At the same time, Student Senate came forward with their own findings and support for the program based upon a survey which showed 87 percent student support for creating a GNH living community.”

Students will be informed of the program, its guidelines, and how to apply during the standard information sessions that Residential Housing facilitates for returning students. Additionally, those students who express interest in the program will receive instructions for completing the supplemental application materials from Residential Housing after completing their initial housing contract.

“We are capable of accommodating approximately 50 upperclass students in the pilot program,” said Executive Director of Residential Housing Christine Sheets. “There are no restrictions, but rather an application and selection process for interested students.”

According to Sheets, the GNH pilot program will serve as a learning experience for the students and the University.

“Primarily, we hope to discover the effectiveness of this community from both the student and staff perspectives,” she said.

The University has been interested in the topic of GNH for some time, Smith explained.

“Diversity has always been a central focus of Ohio University’s mission, and this initiative furthers our efforts in providing an inclusive community,” he said.

“Anyone with questions or comments should contact the Residential Housing Office at 740-593-4090 and our staff will be happy to answer questions or share information with them,” said Sheets. “They can also visit our website to view information about GNH, and all of Residential Housing’s other specialized living communities at www.ohio.edu/housing/halls/slc.cfm.”