Augustana provides accessible residence options
In September 2017, Augustana residence implemented gender inclusive housing to meet the needs of students and to create more accessible options.
77 percent of the 176 respondents in the January 2017 residence survey were interested in gender inclusive housing, which informed the number of rooms set aside. Student Experience Coordinator, Angela Chytracek, hopes that students will remember this option when applying for residence.
“We’ve had a lot of students ask about gender inclusive housing over the years and part of it is just about being able to live with someone that they choose, who may be a different gender than themselves,” said Chytracek.
Gender inclusive housing makes Augustana a safer space for trans and genderqueer students, as it provides students with the opportunity to have roommates, canmates and floormates of any gender. “Thereby, reducing any stigma for students that do not fit the binary gender focus of a traditional residence,” said Executive Director of Student Life, Randal Nickel.
Nickel said that student interest and feedback about this initiative has been positive.
“I think it’s really important that we offer accessible spaces for everyone at Augustana. I’m particularly thinking about trans-students, and other students who may just have a preference to live with a really close friend,” said Chytracek.
“A lot of it is about making housing accessible for trans students and providing more options so they can choose a situation that is good for them,” said Chytracek.
Chytracek said that traditional housing is still available, and will not be eliminated. “There are students that prefer traditional for various reasons. Ravine is already set up really well for gender inclusive housing,” said Chytracek.
Within each building, there will be both traditional and gender inclusive housing in different wings. “It equals out to about 75 percent gender inclusive over the whole ravine. We wanted to blend it all together,” said Chytracek.
At room draw, students who have opted for gender inclusive housing choose both their roommate and canmate. Residence assistants choose their preference when applying for a position.
The layout of first-year dorms does not allow for gender inclusive housing without significant renovations. “We can offer students gender inclusive housing in Ravine even if they are a first-year student, if they request it,” said Chytracek.
“It’s great for us to be able to offer this option. I think it gives us the opportunity to be as flexible as possible with housing,” said Chytracek. “We are able to ask what students prefer, and what’s best for them. Students are experts on themselves. The challenge is that we need to provide the right platform. We try to be as communicative as possible. ”