Gender-Neutral Housing FAQs

Why should Gettysburg College offer gender-neutral housing?
There are some students for whom traditional, same-sex room assignments are not ideal or appropriate, and we believe it is important that housing policies evolve to meet the needs of students to create an inclusive, welcoming environment. Gender-neutral housing provides options for a variety of students: those who feel uncomfortable rooming with members of the same sex, transgender students in the process of discovering their gender identity, students who feel they would be more compatible with a roommate of a different sex or gender, and students who do not want sex or gender to be a primary factor in choosing a roommate. This policy helps create an environment that acknowledges, appreciates, and respects the diverse nature of the Gettysburg College student body, while giving students more options in finding a roommate who is truly compatible.

Is this a permanent change in policy?
Gender-neutral housing is being implemented, for the first time, during the Spring 2012 housing selection process for the 2012-2013 academic year. A formal review of the policy, practice, and student experience will be conducted in January 2013. Information gathered during this review will be used to make changes to the housing selection process and implementation of the program for the 2013-2014 academic year. As with all Residence Life policies, gender-neutral housing will be continuously reviewed and improved to most effectively meet students needs.

Who will be able to apply for gender-neutral housing?
This option will be available to sophomores, juniors, and seniors through the housing selection process. First-year and transfer students will be able to indicate that they are interested in gender-neutral housing on the housing form within the myFirstYear Dashboard. Residence Life will work individually with these students to either pair them or offer singles. First-year and transfer students can live with any other student if they choose to participate in the college's room change process, which begins two weeks into each semester.

How many gender-neutral rooms are available and where will they be?
There is no specific number, or limit, of gender-neutral rooms on campus. Gender-neutral housing will exist across all Gettysburg College properties except in halls that are designed as single-sex.

Can students be randomly assigned to a roommate of the opposite sex?
No. Students who wish to take advantage of the new policy must enter into any roommate arrangement as willing partners.

Can couples live together under this policy?
The Office of Residence Life strongly discourages couples of any sexual orientation from living with each other. We respect and honor the privacy of our students, so we do not require students to disclose the reason for their roommate request.

What if a student chooses to live with someone in a gender-neutral arrangement and becomes uncomfortable with the situation?
The College's established room change process allows for reassignment in any living situation where there is a problem that cannot be resolved.

Are bathrooms gender-neutral too?
There are two types of bathrooms on campus in the residence halls: single person and group bathrooms.

  • All single person bathrooms (one toilet and one shower) are gender-neutral (men or women can use the bathroom). Single person bathrooms are located in most apartments, suites, motel rooms, and some small houses.
  • Group bathrooms are ones where there are multiple toilets and showers. These bathrooms are single gender (male or female). Group bathrooms are located in traditional style halls (e.g. Stine, Musselman, Stevens) and in some small houses.

For students living in a gender-neutral room, access to a gender-neutral bathroom will depend on the building in which they live. Information about the types of bathrooms offered in each building are included on the Residence Life website within the pages that describe each specific building on campus. Students can use this information to help them in selecting an appropriate place to live.

What if parents don't want their child to live in a gender-neutral housing space? Will parents be notified if their child opts for gender-neutral housing?
We encourage students to maintain an open dialogue with their families so that they can be supportive of a student's housing decision. Students over the age of 18 are legally able to make decisions about their housing assignment. It is the student's choice whether or not to tell their parents or guardians. Students under 18 should discuss housing plans with their families, as they must provide parental consent.

Can you estimate how many students will choose to take advantage of this policy?
A number of institutions that have implemented a gender-neutral housing policy report that around 1-3% of student rooms are selected as gender-neutral rooms. For Gettysburg, this estimate would translate to roughly 4 to 11 upperclass double/triple rooms or apartments (7 to 22 double/triple rooms or apartments if including first-year student spaces yet there would likely be a small percentage of first-year students who choose gender-neutral housing).

Currently, Gettysburg typically offers roughly 70 beds within 10 apartments to be selected as mixed-gender housing (students of different sexes or genders sharing an apartment but not rooms). Most of these spaces house students engaged in the Theme House Program. In addition, during the 2011-2012 academic year we have three pairs of students piloting gender-neutral housing by sharing doubles.

What other institutions offer a gender-neutral housing option?
More than fifty colleges and universities offer some form of gender-neutral housing, including Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Clark University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Haverford College, Ithaca College, New York University, Sarah Lawrence College, Skidmore College, Stanford University, Swarthmore College, Susquehanna University, Wesleyan University, and University of Pennsylvania.