UNC approves gender-neutral housing for students

Posted November 15, 2012
Updated November 16, 2012

— The Board of Trustees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Thursday unanimously approved a measure that would allow students the option of living in the same dorm suite with students of the opposite sex.

Gender non-specific housing, which will be implemented for the fall semester, will mean students in the program can live in a suite – a group of dorm rooms that share the same bathroom – or campus apartment with students of any gender.

Students of the opposite sex will not be allowed to share the same room.

Supporters of the option have said that the move will benefit students – specifically gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students – who are being harassed and bullied in traditional on-campus housing.

Chancellor Holden Thorp said the move is vital to protecting the safety of UNC-Chapel Hill students.

"This is an important project for the university and one that I think is vital to protecting the safety of our students," Thorp told the board Thursday.

"We all know about the tragic incident that happened at Rutgers a couple of years ago," he added, referring to Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University student who committed suicide in a well-known case of gay bullying by his roommate.

Under UNC's plan, students will have to apply to be part of the program, and university administrators say it will affect only a small percentage of suites and apartments.

"No one will be forced into this option," said Terri Phoenix, director of UNC-Chapel Hill's LGBTQ Center. "It really is an issue of safety for our students. In the end, this is about people having a safe place to live and to study."

The option is open to all students 18 and older, and all the same university housing policies will apply.

"I think that everyone who comes to this university deserves to feel safe and respected and welcome, and this is a step toward making it happen," UNC-Chapel Hill student Katie Orndahl said.

Orndahl and other supporters were surprised that trustees endorsed the measure, something they have been working toward for years.

"We were blown away that this was happening and that it was affirmed unanimously," said Kevin Claybren, student coordinator for the Gender Non-Specific Housing Coalition. "This just does not impact LGBT students, it impacts all the students at this university."

Gender non-specific housing isn't new. Nearly 100 colleges nationwide – including seven of UNC-Chapel Hill's peer universities – have the option.

The list includes Duke University and the University of Maryland.


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  • Bill of Rights Nov 16, 2012

    Wow, the local church must have been giving out hateraid. I don't in my wildest dreams believe that everyone here who went to college acted this piously. Kids in college already have intercourse; pretending that gender-segregated dorm rooms is going to encourage that is absurd. This is the 21st century, people.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Nov 16, 2012

    Have a great weekend all and surely be safe wherever you wander.

  • NiceNSmooth Nov 16, 2012

    The old days would never have tolerated this. Why are colleges and universities allowing it now? Do they realize sex and illegal drug use is going on? Certain students that was raised right is not involved in this. They have morals and have respect for themselves.

    ok... come back to this century!!

    Do you mean the old days like 70s when it was free love and drugs at college?

  • carrboroyouth Nov 16, 2012

    "The roommate knew about the roomie but did not have enough respect for herself to say NO to the guy. "

    Again, your sexism is showing.

  • carrboroyouth Nov 16, 2012

    "WHAT? Do they realize people are having free these dorms?"

    Consensual sex in a dorm room is not illegal... so yes they do realize it. You ever heard of putting a sock on the doorknob?

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Nov 16, 2012

    So, if it's important to protect the comfort of gay people (and I agree that it is), it's important to protect the comfort of straight people as well.

    All that resides on a college/univ. campus should absolutely be protected and feel safe. All not just a certain group.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Nov 16, 2012

    Chancellor Holden Thorp said the move is vital to protecting the safety of UNC-Chapel Hill students.

    The university certainly needs a new chancellor with his mind set of thinking. Would he want this on his own daughter or son? I think not. By the way, where is his morals and respect? Maybe he needs to be investigated to see what he is really up to. Wife be warned.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Nov 16, 2012

    "Gay and lesbian behavior

    They can never be married in NC. So why all this?

  • carrboroyouth Nov 16, 2012

    "The ladies there graduated still have morals and self-respect."

    ...but not the men? Always the fault of the females, eh?

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Nov 16, 2012

    be an adult and could chose to go to school wherever they chose and you couldn't do a thing to stop it.


    Sure thing. But the parents have a right not to be a financial support. Then what will the student do then. The man they sleep with will certainly not finance her.