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Gender Inclusive Housing is coming in fall

Changes are coming to some Ball State residence halls next fall.  They will be gender inclusive, meaning there will be new flexibility for the LGBT community.

Five residence halls will participate in the pilot program. This is because residence halls must have specific restroom qualifications in order to work for gender inclusive students. 

Chris Wilkey is the assistant director of marketing, communications and technology for the Office of Housing and Residence Life. Wilkey said the residence hall must have closed door bathrooms with a private toilet and shower inside the restroom. The residence halls that have these facilities are Park Hall, Dehority, Studebaker East, Schmidt/Wilson and Botsford/Swinford. 

“We couldn’t do it in LaFollette because they have community-style bathrooms. So you can’t walk up to Knotts/Edwards and find a bunch of gender inclusive rooms because you don’t want opposite genders sharing one large facility where they can’t have a private bathroom,” Wilkey said. 

Ball State will join other Indiana schools, such as Indiana University and Purdue, with its addition of gender inclusive housing. 

Part of the reason for this change is because members of the LGBT community have expressed concerns to Residence Life. Brooklyn Arizmendi, who is the president of Spectrum, the LGBT club on campus, said students and members have shared their problems. 

“I think about all of the students who have told me their experiences in the dorms and how sometimes their gender identity doesn’t match where they are,” Arizmendi said. 

The option will be available on the housing application for next year. If the students check the box signifying that they are interested in gender inclusive housing, Residence Life will reach out and have the student fill out a separate application. Both roommates must mutually confirm that they want to participate in the pilot. Then, they are placed on a list and chosen to participate based on their average housing deposit date. 

“We want to start small so we can make sure that if there are any issues or concerns along the way, we can adjust it and then fix it before we roll it out on a larger scale,” Wilkey said. 

There are 30 rooms available, and they will be scattered throughout the five residence halls that have proper facilities.