Gender inclusive housing expanding at EWU


Dressler Hall (above) is adding a gender inclusive floor to the dorm. Brewster Hall has had gender inclusive options since 2013 | Photo courtesy of EWU

By Erica Bullock, Contributor

At EWU, gender inclusive housing options have been available in Brewster Hall since 2013. In the fall quarter of 2018, EWU will offer another housing option on the 10th floor in Dressler Hall.

The plans for a gender inclusive floor in Dressler were a result of about a year of meeting and planning with students, according to Melanie Potts, the assistant director of business operations in the housing department at EWU.

Recognizing a potential financial barrier to students living in Brewster Hall, Potts said a decision was made to offer a lower price point in Dressler Hall, which will make gender inclusive housing options available to more students. Room and board rates for academic year 2018-2019 show Dressler Hall is approximately $1,200 less per quarter than Brewster Hall, not including meal plans.

EWU describes gender inclusive housing as a living situation in which two or more students agree to share a bedroom without regard to the gender of the occupants. Although the 10th floor of Dressler is specifically planned to be LGBTQ+ friendly, students would not need to declare their sexuality or gender to be considered to live in this environment.

Allies of the LGBTQ+ community are also welcome to opt in to the gender inclusive housing option. According to EWU’s housing and residential life webpage, students may want to live in a gender inclusive housing situation if the student is still in the process of identifying their gender identity,  if they are more comfortable living with someone of a different gender, or if they don’t identify themselves by gender.

“All students deserve a home where they feel safe, welcome and accepted,” Potts said.

EWU’s housing webpage echoes Potts’ statement reading, “It is a housing option that broadens students’ choices and helps ensure living arrangements that are welcoming and inclusive for all members of our community.”

The housing department has not experienced any pushback regarding these plans from the students, staff, or the institution itself. Potts stated that support has come from everyone from Dr. Shari Clarke, the vice president of diversity and inclusion, to Dr. Nick Franco, the pride center manager, to Stacey Morgan Foster, the vice president of student affairs, up to the president’s office.

At this point, it is still unclear how popular these dorms will be with students.

“Since it is the first year we have had the community in Dressler we are unsure what the demand is. We have had a few returning students assign themselves to the community and new students will begin assigning themselves June 1.  Demand is yet to be determined,” Potts said.