Ohio Wesleyan University is committed to providing a safe, inclusive, and supportive environment that values diversity and promotes dignity for all students. Beginning in 2016-2017, gender-inclusive housing is an option in which two or more students mutually agree to share a multi-occupancy bedroom or suite regardless of students’ biological sex or gender identity.

Gender-inclusive housing aims to create an environment that acknowledges, appreciates, and respects the diverse nature of the OWU student body, and supports the various needs of students who feel they would be more compatible with a roommate of a different biological sex or gender identity.  

Although we feel students are able to make decisions about their preferred housing environment, students are encouraged to maintain an open dialogue with their families about their decision to live in gender-inclusive housing. 

 The following residential areas are eligible for a gender-inclusive housing designation:

  • Small Living Units (SLUs)
  • Other houses (House of Black Culture, Honors House, Bigelow-Reed)
  • Residence halls with suite/semi-private bathrooms (Stuyvesant, Smith, Welch)

 The following residential areas are not eligible for a gender-inclusive housing designation:

  • Hayes Hall (which provides a female-only housing option)
  • Residences with community bathrooms (Thomson, Bashford, 4 Williams Drive, Fraternity houses)

 The following conditions apply to students who elect to live in gender-inclusive housing:

  • Gender-inclusive housing will be available for sophomores, juniors, and seniors through the housing selection process conducted during the spring semester. The option is available to first-year and transfer students on a case-by-case basis in order to meet the individual’s unique needs; inquiries by first-year and transfer students should be communicated to the Residential Life Office at the time of or prior to submitting the online housing application.
  • Students may request a roommate of any biological sex or gender identity and will not be required to reveal the reasons for their request. The Residential Life Office will only honor mutual roommate requests (both/all parties must indicate a preference to reside together). Students will proceed through the housing selection process as a “full” room; rooms will not be assigned with vacant spaces.
  • Students who elect to live in gender-inclusive housing will be assigned for an academic year. If a roommate cancels housing or moves out of the room for any reason, the remaining roommate(s) can identify a new roommate to fill the vacancy. The new roommate must agree to live in gender-inclusive housing. If the remaining roommate(s) cannot identify a new roommate, the Residential Life Office reserves the right to assign any student who agrees to live in gender-inclusive housing. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is gender-inclusive housing?

Gender-inclusive housing is an option in which two or more students mutually agree to share a multi-occupancy bedroom or suite regardless of students’ biological sex or gender identity. 

What is the rationale for gender-inclusive housing at OWU?

Gender-inclusive housing aims to create an environment that acknowledges, appreciates, and respects the diverse nature of the OWU student body, and supports the various needs of students who feel that they would be more compatible with a roommate of a different biological sex or gender identity. 

Where can students live in a gender-inclusive room?

The following residential areas are eligible for a gender-inclusive housing designation:

  • Small Living Units (SLUs)
  • Other houses (House of Black Culture, Honors House, Bigelow-Reed)
  • Residence halls with suite/semi-private bathrooms (Stuyvesant, Smith, Welch) 

What areas are NOT eligible for gender-inclusive housing?

  • Hayes Hall (for the sake of maintaining a female only housing option)
  • Residences with community bathrooms (Thomson, Bashford, 4 Williams Drive, Fraternity houses) 

Who can apply for gender-inclusive housing?

This option will be available to returning students through the housing selection process. Gender-inclusive housing may be an option for first-year students and transfer who inquire; accommodations will be made on a case-by-case basis. 

Can first-year students apply for gender-inclusive housing?

If incoming students indicate on their housing applications that their needs cannot be met under the typical housing assignment process, the Residential Life Office will work with that student to address the issue(s) and identify a living arrangement to meet the individual student’s needs. 

Will you prevent people who are romantically involved from living together?

The gender-inclusive housing option is not intended for romantic couples. However, out of respect for student privacy, we do not require students to disclose the reason(s) for their roommate requests. 

What if a student does not want to live in a community where gender-inclusive housing is offered?

OWU also offers single-sex housing, and that option will remain available. There are multiple residence halls where single-sex housing will be available for students who prefer that option. Gender-inclusive housing will not be implemented in Hayes Hall (all female), fraternity houses (all male), or buildings where there are community bathrooms (Bashford Hall, Thomson Hall, 4 Williams Drive). 

What if parents/guardians don't want their child to live in a gender-inclusive housing environment?

Students are encouraged to maintain an open dialogue with their families. Students over age 18 are legally able to make decisions about their housing assignments. Students under age 18 should discuss housing plans with their parents/guardians, who must provide consent. 

How many gender-inclusive rooms are available and where will they be?

There is no specific number, or limit, of gender-inclusive rooms on campus. Gender-inclusive housing can be located anywhere on campus except in areas designated as single-sex. We aim to meet the needs of our diverse student community in as many gender-inclusive rooms as needed. 

What if someone who requested gender-inclusive housing changes their mind?

The student should contact the Residential Life Office and request in writing not to be assigned to a gender-inclusive room (students can email reslife@owu.edu to change their preference). The student should indicate their new/revised housing and roommate preference(s). The Residential Life Office will reassign the student as best as possible with the spaces available at the time the request is made. 

How will roommate conflicts be handled? What if a roommate wants to move out, but still remain in a gender-inclusive room?

The best way to avoid roommate conflicts is to have roommates proactively discuss expectations of each other and the shared living space. Topics for discussion should include guests/visitors, expectations regarding privacy, cleanliness, shared items, etc. An RA can assist by facilitating a roommate agreement among roommates/suitemates. 

If disagreements occur, it is best to talk about them as soon as appropriately possible. If you need assistance initiating a difficult or uncomfortable conversation with your roommate(s), speak with your RA or Residential Life Coordinator (RLC). Sometimes it is best not to remain roommates. If that is the best option, your RLC can let you know whether other gender-inclusive spaces are available. Your RLC can also work with you to locate additional open room spaces on campus. 

What happens if a vacancy occurs in a gender inclusive room?

If a roommate cancels their housing or moves out of the room for any reason, the remaining roommate(s) can identify a new roommate to fill the vacancy. The new roommate must agree to live in gender-inclusive Housing. If the remaining roommate(s) cannot identify a new roommate, the Residential Life Office reserves the right to assign any student who agrees to live in gender-inclusive housing, leave the vacancy open and combine rooms that are below capacity, or convert the room to a single-sex room. This decision will be made at the Residential Life Office’s discretion, but reasonable accommodations will be made wherever possible.