First semester of coed housing concludes, future plans will be determined in January
Ricardo Patino, The Oklahoma Daily
BY THE NUMBERS
Johnson 10, 11, and 12:
Gender-neutral Housing History
Feb. 9, 2010 — OU President David Boren said he doesn’t see gender-neutral housing as an option because of Oklahoma’s conservative values.
March 2, 2010 — OU Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Friends and Students for a Democratic Society hosted a panel discussion of professors to advocate for gender-neutral housing policies. OU Housing and Food representatives attending the panel said the option ultimately was up to Boren and the OU Board of Regents.
March 2, 2010 — Undergraduate Student Congress passed a resolution in support of gender-neutral housing.
April 2010 — OU Housing and Food Services officials said residence halls would have coed floors for upperclassmen. In coed housing, men and women live in separate rooms and suites but in the same wings.
March 21, 2011 — Students for a Democratic Society attempted to interrupt a prospective student tour to educate visitors about the gender-neutral housing campaign and OU’s policies. The tour did not stop, but the group distributed fliers.
April 18, 2011 — The Gender Neutral Housing Coalition planned to sleep overnight in Oklahoma Memorial Union’s Crossroads Lounge to protest housing policies. OU Police Department officers broke up the protest after students tried to set up a bunk bed and sign.
May 24, 2011 — OU added sexual orientation to its list of anti-discriminatory policies.
September 2011 — Housing Center Student Association officers heard gender-neutral housing proposals from Students for a Democratic Society and GLBTF members and discussed options. The groups did not reach a consensus on the best course of action.
March 7 — GLBTF and Students for a Democratic Society organized a rally on the South Oval and delivered a proposal to Boren.
April 13 — A majority of students said they supported establishing gender-neutral housing floors in a survey distributed by Housing Center Student Association.
May 3 — Boren meets privately with members of the Gender Neutral Housing Coalition to discuss potential compromises to its gender-neutral housing proposals.
June 19 — Boren announces OU will not adopt gender-neutral housing options but will create a coed freshman area where men and women can live — although still in separate rooms.
Fall 2012 — OU implements coed housing options, receiving positive feedback and no major complaints, according to Housing and Food Services officials. Boren says the university is open to expanding the program, and future steps will be decided January 2013, according to Diane Brittingham, director of residence life and associate director of Housing and Food Services.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Mike Wormley moved into one of the upper-class co-ed housing floors on Dec. 1. His story has been edited to ensure objectivity.
A semester has passed since the implementation of coed housing at OU, a program that was created as a direct response to a student-led push for gender-neutral housing.
Currently, 24 women and 26 men live on the freshman coed floor on the east side of Walker Center’s fifth floor, said Amy Buchanan, assistant director of marketing and communications for Housing and Food Services. Additionally, 23 women and 27 men are living in the upperclassman coed floors on the 10th, 11th and 12th floors of Adams Center’s Johnson Tower.
University college freshmen living on the coed floor in Walker Center said they feel a strong sense of community.
Joshua Walden, University College freshman, said he thought coed housing would make for interesting interactions.
“What I like about this community is we have each others’ backs,” Walden said. “We make sure no one is falling down or behind.”
Linzee Manor, University College freshman, said she wasn’t sure what to expect from the housing arrangement.
“I was worried about relations on the floor,” Manor said. “But it’s more of a brother-sister kind of thing and not awkward at all.”
Kate-Lynn Walsh, University College freshman, said many of the people on the freshman floor intended to live with each other after leaving the dorms.
“A lot of us are going to be rooming with each other so we can continue to see each other and so we can continue to get together,” Walsh said.
“The future of the program will be determined in January,” said Diane Brittingham, director of residence life and associate director of Housing and Food Services. At that time, Housing and Food Services will look at satisfaction reports and interest data and determine whether or not to request an expansion of the program from OU President David Boren.
George Malatinszky, economics senior and member of Students for a Democratic Society — the group that organized the initial push for gender-neutral housing — said the coed program has been a step in the right direction, but the organization will be continuing efforts toward housing communities that do not regard gender when it comes to room allocation.
Students for a Democratic Society members wanted to create a survey for students living in the coed communities this semester, but those plans faltered when the survey was presented to Housing and Food Services officials, Malatinszky said. Housing and Food Services officials informed him that surveys distributed through its office are either given to all residents or through tables set up at Cate Center.
Students for a Democratic Society members will be redrafting the survey in light of these requirements, and Malatinszky said he will ask if he can approach resident advisors for its distribution.
Additionally, Students for a Democratic Society members will host information sessions throughout the spring semester, reaching out especially to incoming freshmen who may not be aware of this effort, Malatinszky said. He also said the group would be reaching out to other student organizations for support.
“We want to expand,” Malatinszky said. “[Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Friends] has been very supportive, but we need to get other student organizations on board.”
Brittingham said the program has been a positive experience for her and the residents with whom she has had contact.
“I’ve worked with coed arrangements at other schools, and this has been fairly status quo,” Brittingham said. “I haven’t heard any major complaints, and when I don’t hear from a floor, we’re doing good.”
Brittingham said her staff addresses issues as they are brought to the attention of Housing and Food Services, and her staff is caring and alert to the issues as long as communication has been established.