Gender-inclusive housing shows success around Iowa

by Tessa Lengeling

The hot topic around Simpson’s campus is the new gender-inclusive housing.
Students seem interested as the original story highlighting the proposal received the most online views compared to any other story in quite some time.
The decision is not unique to Simpson, as other schools in Iowa similar to Simpson have
implemented the similar policies.
Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa and Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa also have gender inclusive housing options.
Grinnell College sophomore, Emma Lange, serves as a student advisor (SA), or CA as Simpson would call it, and has experience with the student affairs committee on student government.
“The Grinnell community as a whole is in favor of gender-inclusive housing, but it honestly isn’t something we discuss much. We know that the housing is an option, and a very accessible one.
Regardless of my choice of physical location on campus or room type, I have the choice of gender-inclusive living situations,” Lange said. “I absolutely support gender-inclusive housing and I find that it is an important option to ensure that our campus is welcoming to all persons. When moving to college is such a large transition in every aspect of students’ lives, it is absolutely crucial that you at least feel comfortable and safe in your housing on campus,” she
This type of housing is known to cause controversy.
“I have never understood the controversy of gender-inclusive housing. I would like to believe that others recognize that it means the world to those who choose the option, and has no negative effects on those who do not wish to live in such a community,” Lange said.
Lange thinks the student body has a good grasp of what gender-inclusive housing means and says the school works to make boundaries clear.
“I’d like to say that it works well for the students living there. The system of Grinnell works well
with having particular floors of certain residence halls designated as gender-inclusive as all who choose to live on the floor are choosing to live in that community. Floor community is really important at Grinnell and that is particularly true for gender-inclusive floors,” Lange said.
Cornell College recently jumped on the gender-inclusive housing train as well.
Nora McKenzie, sophomore class president at Cornell, spoke about the policy option. “Cornell just adopted gender-neutral housing this year. There are two dorms on campus that allow boys/girls to live together. Cornell’s mission statement revolves around diversity, so it is not surprising we adopted gender-neutral housing!”
“I’m sure for students who want to live in a gender-inclusive environment, Cornell becomes more appealing. The option for gender-inclusive housing also makes Cornell a more diverse and less traditional campus,” McKenzie said.


As a member of residence life at Grinnell, Lange has not experienced any increase in complaints or had to deal with extra problems because of the gender-inclusive housing option.


“I would not say that it puts any stress on the department. All members of residence staff and student advisors are well-versed in the importance of gender-inclusive living communities as intentional living environments and how to respect them,” Lange said.


While the overall attitude toward gender inclusive housing at Cornell is positive, issues do occur. Romantic couples are not supposed to take advantage of the gender-inclusive housing, as it is

reserved for those that require a more welcoming college living environment.


“Gender-inclusive housing can put a strain on Residence Life when roommates of opposite sex

who are romantically involved with one another try to get around the system. The purpose of gender-inclusive housing is to have a comfortable option for all students, not to allow girlfriends/boyfriends to live together. Because college relationships can sometimes be fragile, residence life can have problems with couples wanting to switch rooms mid-semester because they broke up,” McKenzie said.


As more and more colleges are adopting the idea, the hope for supporters is that it continues to grow and spread even further.


“I am very glad to hear Simpson is making the step to include gender-inclusive housing as an option and I hope that other schools in Iowa follow suit,” Lange said.