The Office of Residence Life describes gender inclusive housing as an option of living provided to students in “alignment with Title IX, offered to any student who wishes to be housed by their gender identity.”
For many students, it provides a safer and more inclusive living experience for those who wish to house in accordance to their identity.
Many universities across the country utilize this housing option to ensure their students feel safe, included and content with their living situations.
And though Fairfield was the second Jesuit university to institute gender-inclusive housing options in the 2017-2018 academic year, many students at Fairfield still remain unaware that this is an option for them to utilize.
Junior Giacomo Giardina, who lives in a gender inclusive house, stated that if not for his friends, he “never would have known that gender inclusive housing was even an option” adding “I’m not sure how other people even would find out that it’s available to them.”
Information regarding gender inclusive housing can be found on Fairfield’s website on its “Gender Inclusive Resources” page.
Though this information is posted on Fairfield’s official website, students looking to have this type of housing express that they wish it was advertised more.
Junior Rachel Hinds is a nonbinary student who does “not feel comfortable using bathrooms and sharing rooms with people who identify as men [from birth] as for a long time, my relationship with my male sex has been strained and compromised by bad experiences.”
They continued, “I lost a lot of trust in men, and so I feel more comfortable surrounding myself with other trans students, women and the occasional man identifying as an ally.”
For all of these reasons, Hinds opted into living in gender inclusive housing, but feels frustration with a lack of advertising about this option.
“They do not advertise it at all,” Hinds said. “One of my friends had found a pamphlet hidden away in the [Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs] office and since then has not seen one, and for me, I never saw one to begin with. This is trivial as this campus totes being Jesuit and about progression and being caring of others.”
Junior Maia Nolan echoed Hinds’ statements.
“I feel it is hidden and that you have to go out of your way to look for it,” she said. “My friend and I had to reach out to residence life in order to learn more and actually set it up for our sophomore year and for our junior year we had to meet again. I also have not come across any more pamphlets advertising this option.”
The Mirror reached out to the Office of Residence Life for a comment, but they did not respond in time for publication.
According to the University webpage, gender inclusive housing is open to all University students “who have an understanding of gender identity and gender expression” and “are willing to actively contribute to an inclusive and respectful community.” Students are also not required to disclose their reasons for opting into gender inclusive housing.
Both Giardina and Nolan participate in gender inclusive housing even though they are not members of the trans or nonbinary community themselves.
And even though the University permits anyone to live in gender inclusive housing regardless of the student’s gender identity, students have reported to The Mirror difficulties they faced during the roommate match period of the housing selection process.
Junior Eden Marchese who identifies as nonbinary wanted to live with Nolan during the 2020-2021 academic year and was excited to do so because of the gender inclusive housing option. Marchese noted that the process has “become more accommodating” but described the process of getting into gender inclusive housing to still be “irritating” based on their past two experiences doing so.
“The first time I went through the process, [Nolan] and myself got locked out and had to get on a call with the Director of Residence Life to have them go through the system on their end,” Marchese said. “The second time when I went through the process with my Barnyard house, we had a meeting with Residence Life beforehand which was an extra step that we had to go through that those not doing gender inclusive housing didn’t have to worry about.”
Giardina, who lives in gender inclusive housing this year, stated that applying to live in this type of housing “went incredibly smooth.”
But Giardina added, “unless you count finding out that it exists as part of the process, in which case there was a problem.”
The students cited that ResLife was accommodating in resolving issues that arose during the housing selection process as well as ensuring they were able to secure spots in gender inclusive housing options.
An additional step must be completed by students looking to live in gender inclusive housing that is not necessary for other students to complete. According to the gender inclusive resources web page, “requests for a housing assignment that is consistent with a students’ gender identity and not perceived sex, are asked to be received by the Office of Residence Life two weeks prior to the close of the housing lottery application date.”
For students who wish to live in this type of housing who do not request roommates to live with, Res Life will place them accordingly, stated by the guidelines outlined by the Gender Inclusive Resource page.
When asked how the University can better improve the gender inclusive housing for students, Hinds stated “the University could be better at doing everything, especially the Office of Residence Life.”
They continued, “They continue to disappoint and cause issues for students who are queer. They could easily implement ways for students to find housing with people who are queer and trans. It is not difficult, even for freshmen. It would mean reworking the entire application process for the students.”
Students looking to live in this type of housing can contact ResLife using the phone number 203-254-4215 or the email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.