Gender-open halls should be for all

Next fall, the University of Minnesota will open 56 gender-open housing spaces designed to help transgender students feel more comfortable in on-campus housing.

The available spaces will be located in Middlebrook Hall, Comstock Hall, Yudof Hall and the University Village apartments, the Minnesota Daily reported last week.

Gender-open housing differs from co-ed housing. With co-ed housing, two neighboring rooms can house male and female students. Gender-open rooms, however, are not assigned based on a housing applicant’s gender.

The new rooms will only be available for returning undergraduates and graduate students, not for freshmen. Susan Stubblefield, assistant director of housing and residential life, explained that the University intends to allow freshmen to apply for gender-open housing once the school has had time to examine how the new living system affects its residents.

We’re glad that the University has introduced gender-open housing, and we appreciate the efforts directed to make all students feel more comfortable on campus. However, we believe that it’s misguided to prohibit freshmen from applying for open-housing rooms.

Because freshmen are new to campus, they’re in a potentially vulnerable position  both socially and emotionally. This may be especially true of transgender students, who may feel uncomfortable with traditional housing options.

If the University wants to know how the new housing system will affect its residents, it would be foolish not to study all of the system’s potential residents, including freshmen. Delaying their admittance is denying them a service they deserve.