Gender-Inclusive Housing

A core tenet of self-governance at Grinnell is supporting students of all backgrounds and identities.

In order to move toward best practices in housing and residential life, we are doing away with the outdated co-ed designation in favor of a more gender-inclusive model. Currently, students in co-ed housing can live in communities with mixed genders but must have a roommate of the same documented gender as themselves.

The Division of Student Affairs and Department of Residence Life, in conjunction with the Gender-Inclusive Housing Committee, recognize that this housing model is not as inclusive, safe, or comfortable as it should be for students of all gender identities and expressions. As such, we have made extensive changes to the residential housing landscape at Grinnell College which we feel is representative of a more inclusive and welcoming campus environment.

We understand that these changes may prompt many questions and hope that we are able to address them below.

How does this support the mission and core values of Grinnell College?

Grinnell College prides itself on fostering and supporting a diverse community of people and perspectives in its residence halls. Our focus on the core component of residential living and learning communities necessitates respectful and inclusive living environments where all students can grow and learn from/with each other.

Providing a significant increase in gender-inclusive housing creates more diversity in residential communities where students can interact with a variety of people and not feel restricted by gender identity or expression. This creates dynamic and unique communities that are supportive of all identities. 

So what will this new housing model look like?

This new housing model will have both gender-specific and gender-inclusive communities. We have been successful for 5 years with this model.

Gender-inclusive communities are those in which any student can live with another student regardless of gender identity and expression.

Bathrooms in these communities are mostly gender-inclusive, but there will also be some gender-specific bathrooms for exclusively men and women in these areas as well. These bathrooms were assigned intentionally to accommodate those who want a gender-inclusive community with a variety of bathroom designations.

Current students and new students are able to select any individual they would like to live with. Please indicate this on your housing and roommate form located on the new student checklist

Gender-specific communities will only house students of the same gender identity. These communities will occupy entire floors within the residence halls (there is not a gender-specific residence hall, only gender-specific floors within the residence halls). Individuals living in these communities must live with students of the same gender.

Bathrooms in these communities can be a combination of gender-specific and gender-inclusive.

First-year students will be asked to indicate the gender of their roommate on their roommate preference form (login required). Residence Life staff will pair roommates based on personal attributes, characteristics, and indicated gender preference.

How will this affect bathrooms?

Formerly, bathrooms in each community were voted on by the members of that community at the beginning of each year. The parameters of the voting process were often misunderstood or misrepresented which created inequitable living spaces for residents. Additionally, residents were unaware of how their bathrooms would be designated ahead of their room selection in the spring, which produced a sense of uncertainty and discomfort for many students.

The Gender-Inclusive Housing Committee, made up of students and staff, pre-assigned every bathroom in each community so residents are able to select a residential environment that best fits their needs and preferences.

What if I require gender-specific housing?

Gender-specific housing communities will be retained and supported in the residence halls. These floor communities will exist in several different areas of campus including in substance-free residence halls.  

What informed this decision?

The Gender-Inclusive Housing Committee first reviewed previous years of housing data to begin their approach to altering the housing landscape at Grinnell College. Housing trends indicated that students overwhelmingly were more interested in the location of their room, rather than the designation of the community.

Additionally, the Committee surveyed the 2016–17 student body to assess their preferences for or against increasing gender-inclusive housing. Data gathered from the survey clearly indicated that the overwhelming majority of students wanted to see an increase in gender-inclusive housing and bathroom options in their residence halls.

Please contact the Department of Residence Life if you have additional questions. If you are an admitted student and prefer a gender-specific living environment, please reference this on your housing application form.

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