Ball State to add 'gender inclusive' rooms in residence halls

MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) - Some students at Ball State University will soon have more options when it comes to housing. The university will be adding "gender inclusive" rooms, designed for LGBTQ and gender non-conforming students.

University leaders say the goal is to create more safe and comfortable living options for those with different gender expressions.

"We will be doing a gender inclusive housing pilot program, which means students of any gender or gender identity can live together within a small batch of rooms," said Chris Wilkey, Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life at Ball State University.

The program will start in the fall of 2018. Wilkey says he thinks it is something that can help set students up for success.

"When they are comfortable they do better in school," Wilkey said.

Ball State joins a growing list of schools that offer housing options like this. Purdue University and Indiana University already have gender-neutral rooms.

"If someone is forced to live in a room with someone they are not necessarily comfortable with or go into a bathroom they are not necessarily comfortable with... they're not really living, they are just going through the motions," said Kathy Berryhill, a student who worked to pass legislation at BSU for the gender inclusive rooms.

"I think that it opens opportunities to people who may not be just male or female and it just makes everybody feel a lot more comfortable and safe," said Jenna Risacher, a Ball State student.

Students who want to live in one of the 30 gender inclusive rooms will have to apply with their desired roommate.

"Nobody will just be thrown into a room with somebody of the opposite gender. They have to actually both come into our office, sign a contract and paperwork," said Wilkey.

The rooms will be spread out in different residence halls on campus. The 60 students who fill them will have access to an individual bathroom. There will also be unisex bathrooms in addition to the traditional male and female ones on each floor.

University leaders say they already have more than two dozen applications.


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