GENDER-INCLUSIVE HOUSING PROVIDES A SAFE SPACE FOR STUDENTS

RACHEL GREEN, TRUMPET GUEST WRITER

Three suites consisting of 22 students on Wartburg College’s campus are currently living in gender-inclusive housing (GIH).

According to the policy, gender-inclusive housing allows students from different genders or sex to live in the same townhouses or suites. 

The main goal of GIH is to create an environment where students of all gender identities feel comfortable. Jonathan Banse, a fourth-year history and English double major, identifies as non-binary and lives in GIH in order to feel comfortable with the people they are living with.

Gender-inclusive housing allows students of different genders or sex to live in the same townhouses or suites. Photo by Annika Wall.

“For those of us that are not necessarily gender-conforming, it’s weird getting roommates,” said Banse. “I want to be able to live with who I want to be able to live with.”

The program, GIH, was first used during the 2018-2019 academic year by three households in Knights Village, Wartburg’s apartment-style housing. After a successful trial, the program was expanded to the Residence and Waverly Manors. GIH is offered in those residence halls due to the private bathrooms and suite-style housing. 

Banse lives in Knights Village with five roommates. While their apartment consists of six single rooms, GIH is also available in suites that have double rooms. According to the gender-inclusive housing policy, bedrooms are still gender-specific within gender-inclusive suites. 

“One of the great things about gender-inclusive housing is that it allows you to encompass different identities and allow more different friendships to flourish,”  Freddie Eden, resident assistant (RA) for the Residence said.

That is why Micah Decker, third-year elementary education major, decided to participate in GIH in the Residence. He lives with seven suitemates, three males and four females.

“I have an equal amount of guy and girl friends,” Decker said. “I think it really was the best option for our friend group.”

Previously, Decker lived with all males. As a first-time participant in GIH, he said his experience has been positive.

“I’ve actually preferred living with the opposite gender,” Decker said. “It adds a little spice to my life.”

The ability to offer fellow students accessible housing on campus based on comfortability is one of the main reasons gender-inclusive housing began. Photo by Alexa Ganzeveld.

Decker’s suitemate in the Residence, second-year Emma Ammons, said she has also had a positive experience thus far in their rooming experience. She said that she recommends students look into GIH options if it would make them feel more comfortable. 

“I think it’s definitely something that we should be going forward with as a campus,” Ammons said. “You need to be around people you’re comfortable with.”

The ability to offer fellow students accessible housing on campus based on comfortability is one of the main reasons GIH began. 

Todd Greer, a 2019 Wartburg graduate, was one of the students who sought inclusion for all members of campus. He helped submit the initial proposal for GIH to be available at Wartburg.

“As a member of the queer community, a gay man, I felt it necessary that we have a housing option that was inclusive of all students, not just the ones on the hetero, gender binary,” Greer said. “I wanted students to have safe places to come home at night.”

GIH is still only available to upperclassmen that qualify to live in Knights Village, the Residence and the Waverly Manors. 

Cassie Hales, director of residential services, said she has worked with first-year students with different gender identities. However, she has begun to explore how to make GIH available in residence halls with community bathrooms, such as Löhe Hall, Grossmann Hall, The Complex, Clinton Hall and Founders Hall. 

“Eventually, I’d like to move it to those community bathroom areas,” said Hales. “It’s just figuring out the right balance, and what that looks like.” 

According to the Wartburg College gender-inclusive housing policy, students must apply with their roommates with the same procedures for the housing lottery. 

For more information on Wartburg’s gender-inclusive housing visit 

info.wartburg.edu/Student-Life/Student-Handbook/Inclusive-Housing-Policy.

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