The Pomona College Student Affairs Committee (SAC) voted to instate a gender neutral housing policy on Mar. 12. The new policy allows students to live in doubles, two-room doubles, and friendship suites with roommates of any gender or sex after their first year. It will go into effect in time for the upcoming room draw.
Two weeks before SAC voted on the policy, the committee e-mailed the policy proposal to the student body, inviting feedback. Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs Miriam Feldblum said responses were “overwhelmingly in support of the policy change.”She said the only negative feedback SAC received were concerns about romantic couples choosing to room together.
“Hopefully Pomona couples will be responsible and recognize the risk involved,” said SAC Member and Residence Hall Committee Co-Chair Stephanie Almeida PO ’11. “If they choose to take advantage of this new policy in order to live together, they may very well end up stuck in an extremely undesirable living situation.”
Almeida added the current housing system doesn’t necessarily dissuade couples from living together.
“Frankly, people are doing that already,” she said. “It’s a safety issue in emergencies when people aren’t living where they should be.”Almeida was instrumental in the drafting of the proposal and believes the change was necessary.
“The new room draw policy is important because it recognizes that one’s gender identity should not determine one’s choice of roommate,” she said. “Not everyone must or does fit neatly into the category of male or female, and some students may live best and/or not romantically with a person of the opposite sex.”
Feldblum added that she thought the policy change will help build Pomona’s reputation.
“Putting gender neutral housing in place sets an important tone for the college,” Feldblum said. “It says ‘we care, we’re aware, and we’re proactive.’”
According to the Los Angeles Times, about 50 other colleges and universities allow gender neutral housing, including Pitzer College and Harvey Mudd College.
“You should be able to decide who you want to live with,” said Pitzer student Lindon Pronto PI ‘12, who currently has a female roommate. “When you’re our age, you can live with whoever you want outside of an institution.”
Pronto believes colleges will continue to adopt gender neutral housing policies.
“I think a lot of colleges will explore this option, but I don’t think every college will,” he said. “The divide between men and women is changing; their relationship in society is evolving.”
He also said gender neutral housing is not a 21st century concept.
“Colleges have done this since the mid-70s,” he said.
Feldblum said that, because over 60 percent of Pomona’s dorm rooms are singles or two-room doubles, SAC had not discussed a policy change in depth before this year.
“We have singles for first-years through seniors, so [the policy change is] more of a symbol, perhaps, than it is at other colleges,” she said. “But it still addresses a need to accommodate students.”
“It’s also a recognition of students being able to make their own decisions,” added Almeida.