March 15, 2018

 

The Association of Residence Hall Students’ Gender Neutral Housing Initiative

 

The Association of Residence Hall Students (ARHS) appreciates UPUA's insight into an initiative we, along with Housing, Residence Life and Assignments, have been working on for the past three years. Gender Neutral Housing (GNH) was piloted at Penn State in the fall of 2015 and became an official option starting in spring of 2016, and currently has students living in this option on campus.

Over the past year, ARHS has been holding meetings with Housing, Assignments and Residence Life to update and improve the GNH program that is currently in place.

  • Based on our recommendations, the website has been updated over the past few weeks to increase accessibility and add more inclusive language. A new FAQ section has been added per our request to provide more information for students.

  • In collaboration with Residence Life, Housing, and Assignments, we have a video in production to better advertise and inform students about this living option. Since the housing contract period for next semester has passed, the release is aimed for Fall 2018.

  • ARHS and Residence Life reached out to the LGBTQA Resource Center for advice after discussion surrounding the terminology used by Penn State regarding GNH, and ARHS will continue to include the LGBTQA Resource Center in conversations going forward to ensure an inclusive environment exists in this process.

  • The goal of our organization is to ensure students feel safe and comfortable living on campus. We do not have knowledge of any student who has not been accommodated after showing interest in gender neutral housing. However, first year students will continue to be provided GNH on a case by case basis.

  • We presented the idea of a check-box option on eLiving in the fall of 2017 semester, and were made aware that this is not possible due to the website’s current coding. Furthermore, due to pending updates to the housing lottery process, a check-box option will not be necessary.  The updated housing lottery process will allow for more opportunity for students to more easily select a gender inclusive room selection for the Fall 2019.

  • There are currently three points of contact: the LGBTQA Resource Center Director, Senior Director of Residence Life, and the Director of Ancillary Services. This allows students to pick a point of contact that makes them feel the most comfortable and proceed forward with the needs and desires of the individual student.

 

ARHS plans to continue working and updating the Gender Neutral Housing initiative to meet the needs of the students.

 

Sincerely,

 

Laura Daly

President

The Association of Residence Hall Students