Some Pomona students at Room Draw last week were surprised to learn that two floors of Lawry Hall were reserved exclusely for female students next year. However, according to administrators in the Office of Campus Life (OCL), the floors were set aside for only female students after the Resident Advisors assigned to those floors chose not to allow male students to draw into them. This information was not publicized before room draw and came as a surprise to some students who learned about it during frantic Room Draw sessions this week.
According to Dean of Campus Life Ric Townes, any Pomona RA who lives in a suite configuration is allowed to decide whether that space will be gender-neutral or gender-specific housing. Because the residents of Lawry A3 and C3 share a common room and one bathroom, the RAs who live on those floors determine the gender assignment for the entire floor.
Rob Almeida, the new RA in Lawry C3, and Elena Saenz, his colleague in A3, both requested that their floor mates be exclusively women. Neither could be reached for comment.
“Every year, RAs are given a choice, and sometimes the choice is ‘It doesn’t matter to me,’ and sometimes the choice matters,” Townes said. “Because they don’t get a choice as to where they live, we have afforded them a choice as to whether their floor is of a particular gender or not.”
Townes, a dean at Pomona since 2005, said that OCL’s policy about RAs and sex-designated suite configurations has not changed during his time at the college.
He added that there have been at least two academic years, including 2009-2010, when OCL failed to inform the Lawry RAs of their right to choose the sex of their hall's residents. In fall 2009, OCL was forced to make a last-minute housing switch because a female RA was uncomfortable on the all-male floor where she was living.
Housing Director Deanna Bos said that OCL knew about the gender restriction for both Lawry floors a week or more before this week’s room draw. She indicated that OCL would consider sending advance notification of such restrictions to the student body in future years.
“It’s not that we deliberately withheld [the information],” Bos said. “It just didn’t get published.”
Townes, however, said that it would be a break from precedent for OCL to distribute advance notice of RA-determined sex restrictions.
“Dude, you’ve got to understand, some of the things we do, we’ve just been doing for a long time, and we just do them that way because that’s the way we do them,” Townes said.