UNF announced it will be including gender-neutral housing as a new option for on-campus students starting Fall 2015.
Students who intend to live on campus can join a community whose goal is to create a supportive environment for LGBT students, as well as students who do not identify as LGBT.
Currently, LGBT students living on campus are able to go to Housing and Residence Life with concerns or preferences they may have, and Housing has worked with them to find solutions. However, Bob Boyle, Director of Housing, said Housing has been working on another viable solution.
“More than a year ago we started talking this out,” Boyle said. “We’ve known we wanted to provide a new option to students.”
Dr. Tom Serwatka, vice president Chief of Staff, has also been considering an option like this for years. However, when Serwatka talked to students about his plan, he said they did not like the ideas that were introduced, so the plan was dropped. Now, by working with Housing, the discussion that started years ago will soon be a reality.
“It’s not just for transgendered students, it’s also for students that want to be allies and advocates for LGBT students across the community,” Dei Allard, associate director of Residence Life, said.
The new Living Learning Community will be located in the Osprey Fountains, which Boyle said physically lends itself very well to that type of community, with its locations for both privacy and shared spaces. Anyone who is interested must complete a housing contract and apply to live in the LLC online by filling out a non-contractual form that expresses their interest. Housing will release this form in February and students will be able to find it on the Housing website.
Allard said the community will not only be a place of support for students, but also a place to learn about and understand social justice while finding a cause to focus on.
While the efforts to advertise the new housing option are just now starting, the responses thus far have been positive. Housing has been working closely with the LGBT Resource Center and representatives from the President’s Office to get the community started. Once it’s started, the students’ input will be a key factor in how it progresses. Right now, Housing is simply trying to offer a new option to students.
“I think, you know, the campus community is really a microcosm of society,” Boyle said, “and ideally we want to be able to provide students with an option that meets what they believe their need to be.”
In addition to the new housing option, same-sex couples who are married will now be receiving the same benefits from the university as straight couples. Students who are married will be recognized as so for tuition purposes, and faculty who are married can enroll their spouses as dependents on their insurance plans.