Starting fall 2016, the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg will offer gender-neutral housing in all on-campus residence halls.
“They’re realizing that this is a legitimate, serious thing that needs to be addressed, that students want to have this option. Sometimes they’re just more comfortable, sometimes they’re a transgender student,” said Troy Ross, Director of Housing and Residence Life at the Pitt-Greensburg campus.
During the roommate selection process, the potential roommates will provide each other’s self-selected pin numbers to confirm their roommate selections.
“We don’t want to remove the element of choice for students…I wanted to make sure our policy was flexible enough that students had the option of living wherever they wanted and who they wanted to live with,” Ross said. “We do want to meet with students just to make sure they understand their responsibility if a space opens up in their room, but the selection will look very similar to the normal process.”
The only requirement for the roommate selection process is that students fill all empty spots in the room they are requesting. For residence halls such as Robertshaw, where two adjoined rooms share one bathroom, roommates will be required to pick all four residents, so the bathroom area is also gender neutral.
“Our mindset is that if you’re selecting a space and the people in that space, you should be comfortable with sharing that bath-room,” Ross said. “We’re going to encourage people to be thoughtful, though. We don’t think it’s a good idea for people who have a past or current [romantic] relationship.”
When asked about gender -neutral housing, Kate Andrews, a sophomore education major at Pitt-Greensburg, said “I know my best friend is of a different gender. I think that giving students more op-tions is very progressive and makes the university more alluring.”
When speaking of his personal opinion of gender-neutral housing, Ross said, “Personally, I’ve been wanting to have gender-neutral housing here for years and wasn’t permitted to do it. I’m excited that we have this option because I’m a big believer that students should have the ability to shape their en-vironment as much as possible…It must have been eight or ten years ago now that I had a male student come to me who wanted to live with females. I remember I contacted my supervisor, and the answer came back ‘absolutely not,’ and I remember I was very upset by this.”
“We as a university should be looking for ways to make all of our students comfortable. We should be having conversations with students when they face these situations and figuring out how we can resolve this issue in the best way possible. We just need to be thoughtful when these situations come up. We can’t view it as being just one person be-cause you never know. Sometimes it’s one brave person and a lot of people having this issue.”
If students have any questions on gender-neutral housing, they should contact Brian Root, Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Troy Ross at email@example.com.