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Aug 19, 2013 07:58 AM EDT

BU Introduces Gender-Neutral Campus Housing

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Starting fall 2013 semester, students at Boston University (BU) will be able to avail the gender-neutral housing option. The new school policy that was approved by President Robert A. Brown, Tuesday allows boys and girls to live together.

"This is about empowering students to make choices about how they live and giving them a greater measure of control over their college experience. This is really about your choice of who you live with," said Kenneth Elmore, Dean of Students. "Your preference about gender and how you perceive it is really not our concern."

BU students will be allowed to share a bedroom, suite, or apartment in select campus buildings without taking gender into consideration.

"People who choose this [the gender-neutral selection process] will have some additional requirements to fulfill, as they would need everyone [who they are living with] to approve," said Colin Riley, BU spokesman.

However, this housing option is not available at all the campuses of the university including West Campus, The Towers, Myles Annex and Warren Towers as they have large dormitories with communal bathrooms. Plus, this option is also not presented to freshmen.

 "Housing is designed to facilitate strong academic achievement, and an academic environment in which studying, research and personal development will take place," Riley said. "It [Gender-neutral housing] may just provide one additional option to achieve that."

The university now joins the list of nearly 90 schools country-wide that offers gender neutral housing, including Tufts and Northeastern.

 "Over the course of college I have made a lot of friends who think it [gender-neutral housing] would have make their college experience a lot better," said Caitlin Seele, School of Management senior. "Every student has the right to feel safe and happy living on campus. This new proposal will force that sensitivity factor [by the University] and won't ask too many personal questions. They [a student] shouldn't have to describe such a situation that can be uncomfortable for many."

Swanson Ninan, a BU Center for Gender, Sexuality and Activism member feels that gender-neutral housing should also be applicable for the incoming class of 2017.

"It is important to recognize that freshman are just as big a community as any other students on our campus," said Ninan, a College of Arts and Sciences junior. "Leaving them out is not the best, especially because sometimes they are the people who need it the most when they are getting acclimated to a new setting."

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