Unsigned: Are gendered-segregated residences outdated?

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The University of Waterloo’s Registrar’s Office was recently approached by a student who did not identify as male or female. This student was told that, in order to apply to be a student, a gender needed to be selected on the OUAC form.

A motion has since been written for the application form to be changed and thanks to the approval of multiple universities throughout Ontario, the form will have male, female and neither as options by Fall 2017.

We believe in the institutional leniency for all students — that acceptance and flexibility is crucial for administrating a positive learning environment. Therefore, having this option on the form is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.

However, with changes made to this form, do more aspects of university life need to be made, particularly with gender-segregated residences?

Some religious or cultural backgrounds have strong beliefs about sleeping in the same room as an individual of the opposite sex — which can become complicated in single gendered residences.

In most cases, sex and gender should be very different considerations.

In order to maintain the institutional leniency and comfort of all students, other steps besides a form option must be implemented.  While maintaining the privacy of anyone who identifies with a different gender than their sex assigned at birth and who may choose a gender-segregated residence, all students who also choose gendered housing should be notified that Laurier opens it’s residence doors to all people, regardless of gender identity. This will inform students that everyone has unique circumstances and that Laurier aims to be an inclusive space for all students. “Boys/girls only” dorms is becoming an outdated practice.   

Obviously this situation is more complicated than a note on a form and there are countless considerations that should be brought forward.

As Laurier continues to make strides to accommodate all students, it is clear that binary housing is perhaps a thing of the past.

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