Campus talks gender-neutral housing

Gender. Orientation. Words like these have entered conversations lately on college campuses, in homes and in the workplace.

Last year, Bradley Student Senate continued the dialogue by passing the Pronoun Resolution, which allows students to choose their preferred pronouns on Webster and Sakai. Gender-neutral bathrooms were also introduced to campus.

Now there is conversation about creating a gender-neutral floor in Williams Hall within the next academic year.

Kali Noel Dodez, a Resident Advisor (RA) in Williams, said the motivation came from the desire to create a safe space where students are not confined to their biological sex.

It was kind of a collective discussion last year, Dodez, a junior English creative writing major, said. It was really a residential living push and discussion because weve implemented a lot of changes as a staff and this is one of the [changes] were pushing for.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Dodez said making campus more comfortable for people to identify themselves however they choose is something Dodez is passionate about.

Having that option for a safe space, for people to not be confined to their sex, is important, Dodez said. Having a place [for students] to be free to be [themselves] without feeling like [theyre] trapped in the wrong gendered floor, I think its a good initiative.

The gender-neutral floor will not be implemented this year because it has not passed through university administration yet, but Dodez said that is the next and final step.

Ryan Bair, executive director of residential living and student conduct, is the administrative voice for RAs and helps students with the logistical side of housing.

According to Bair, the gender-neutral floor could bring about the same change to the LGBTQ+ community on campus just as other communities have benefitted.

It would be open to any students, Bair said. If we came down to not having a lot of space open, we would [house students] based on the need. These are sort of guidelines were going with that other universities have worked out.

Despite the change Dodez said the gender-neutral floor would bring to the atmosphere of Bradley, the committee of RAs has run into a technical problem and will have to work with current Bradley systems in order to make their goals a reality.

One of the big hurdles were facing right now is technological, because the housing system that Bradley uses wont let [us] pair up a male and female in the same room, Dodez said. It was supposed to be implemented this year, and it wasnt mostly because of that.

However, Dodez said they believe this step can help make Bradley a place where students of the LGBTQ+ community can feel safe and will, hopefully, improve campus in the long run.

Bradley is a liberal arts college, and you can definitely see the positives in that, but I feel like we still have a long way to go for accessibility for any minority, including the LGBT+ community, so I would like to see this spark conversation in that direction, Dodez said.

With this floor in mind, Bair said he hopes Bradley will continue to improve and be more socially conscious of students in the LGBTQ+ community.

I want students to feel comfortable and happy [at Bradley], Bair said.

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