Residence Life and Housing has released new information about The Village, revealing that the townhouses will allow males and females to live together in a co-ed setting.
The new residential complex, set to open in fall 2010, will feature 350 students living in a European-style community.
"It’s like a neighborhood," Richard Kolenda, interim director of Residence Life and Housing said. "It’s really a great atmosphere to live and learn and it’s the best place to receive benefits of living on campus while still getting an off-campus type of experience."
Many students wondered if people would be allowed to live together with someone of the opposite sex, as they would in an off-campus housing arrangement. All other housing options available on campus are not gender-neutral, so students were interested to hear about the school’s decision.
"I like having the option of co-eds living together," Ray Lopez, a 19-year-old sophomore said. "I think it’s a good extreme to live with the opposite sex because it can be a good learning experience."
Business administration sophomore Robert Cardillo, 19, agreed.
"If guys and girls want to live together, they should be allowed," he said. "I think more guy and girl friends are going to live together than boyfriends and girlfriends."
It is commonly known now that students have friends of the opposite sex who they would feel comfortable living with, Cardillo said.
Kolenda says the decision to allow the housing to be gender-neutral weighed heavily on The Village being like an independent living situation.
"The townhouses are supposed to be like off-campus housing," he said. "We’re not going to monitor who lives in whose room."
Kolenda says the co-ed situation can be a positive experience and he is not overly worried about romantic couples living together and then possibly wanting to break-up and move out later, potentially causing a fiasco with living agreements.
"People will live with who they want to live with," he said. "Their contract will be for one academic year. If anybody requests to move out, they will be subject to roommate changes and reconfiguration just like they would be in any other residence hall."
SUNY Potsdam has had multiple townhouses available as housing options for three years and they have not had any severe problems with co-eds living together, Townhouse Residence Director Eddie Cruz said.
"It has worked out fabulously so far," he said. "We have a system set up so that students are comfortable with their living arrangements. If a problem later arises, students feel comfortable coming to me to figure out their rooming situation."
Romantic couples have chosen to live together and then broke up during the academic year, but there have been no serious incidents that Cruz was not able to tactfully handle.
"We have a townhouse living agreement that everyone does have to sign," Cruz said. "But if there is a legitimate reason for them to move out, then we explore other options for them to take. "
SUNY Brockport also has housing options available similar to The Village, but their housing is not currently open for co-ed living, Townhomes Coordinator Carrie Welch said. Due to a lot of administrative turnover and the fast pace at which the townhouses were constructed, Welch said it was too much to try to coordinate gender-neutral living as well. However, it is a topic of continued discussion that the school has not ruled out.
"It could definitely be a positive experience for students who choose to remain on-campus," Welch said. "I’ve worked at schools who have co-ed living and schools that don’t and it really depends on the student and how well they co-exist with others."
Students need to think about whom they are going to live with and all the possibilities and consequences that can exist when making a final decision, Welch said. Administration should not be the only ones taking all angles of consequences pertaining to gender-neutral housing into consideration.
"There are same-sex relationships that exist across campus as well, so administration can’t control it all," Welch said. "It’s really up to the students and how they decide to deal with any issues that may come up."
Gender-neutral housing is a rising trend across educational institutions in New York. SUNY Potsdam has had gender-neutral housing in place for three years and Syracuse University will launch a housing pilot in fall 2010 that will feature males and females living together.
"You get the best of both worlds," Kolenda said. "Allowing students to live in a co-ed setting gives them another taste of what it’s like to live off campus…but they have all the service, security and convenience of living on-campus. We couldn’t make it more convenient."