The Residence Life Council has recently been presented with an initiative written by Student Senate suggesting the addition of a co-ed living option for the 2015 academic year.
The initiative, after the initial meeting and revision, is currently back in the hands of the administration for further discussion. Student Senate is planning on meeting with administration to go over feedback in the weeks to come, though it is expected that no formal decision will be made for some time.
Although discussion of this idea has only begun recently, its development has taken place over the course of the school year. Ben Shelly, a sophomore and primary spokesperson of the student senate on this initiative, discussed the details and the process of readying this idea for presentation to the Residence Life staff.
Shelly said, “This initiative has been talked about in Student Senate for a long time. Last semester we decided to try and implement it,” he said. “So we began with a lengthy research process, where everyone in senate talked to a different administrator, and created the poll that got sent out to all students.”
Chad Coleman, director of Residence Life, has been aware of Student Senate’s drafting process of the initiative and has been in conversation with the Senate members about this suggestion. Coleman was impressed by the amount of thought that went into the document presented to them. Coleman said, “The initiative was very well done and very thorough.”
After reviewing the initiative with the Residence Life staff, Coleman said they were unanimous in asking “‘could it work in today’s campus climate?’ and we all thought ‘yeah, it probably could work,’” Coleman said.
However, implementing this suggestion requires approval from more than just Residence Life staff. A lot of factors play into the determination of its passing.
“One of the larger questions that we had was about the added layer of management from our standpoint,” Coleman said. “We’re at a point in our campus climate where a lot of the work is already being consolidated based on some reduction, and so taking risks is not on high on our list of things to do right now.”
Co-ed living currently exists in off-campus housing, such as Howell and Kenwood small group houses. This residence alteration would extend these living opportunities to first and second year students by opening one floor in Yoder residence hall to members of both sexes. The initiative explains that individual rooms will remain single sex, and each of the bathrooms on the Yoder floor would belong to a designated gender.
Senate members emphasize that no student would be placed on this floor accidentally. The Senate has suggested a selection process that would involve students to submit an essay based application. These applications would then be reviewed and approved by residence directors. All of these approved applications would then enter a random drawing for selection.
The floor would have both a male and female RA and ML. Each would share in responsibility for the entire floor. Rooms would alternate between male and female on the co-ed floor, providing a diverse blend of the two genders for the floor.
The ultimate goal for Student Senate’s initiative is to bridge the gender divide at Goshen College.
The initiative suggests that “a co-ed floor is an opportunity to build deeper relationships with the opposite gender in a community that focuses on friendship,” said the Student Senate. They consider this new co-ed addition to be an extension of the already existing rules to first and second-year students.
Student Senate members believe “this initiative has the opportunity to positively impact admissions, by showing prospective students that Goshen College is welcoming, takes community seriously and has administrators who are open to student requests for change.”
While Coleman suggested implementing the gender-neutral change in the dorms was not something that is being considered for the school’s immediate future, Coleman did state that as a whole, the Residence Life staff thought that “if the institution decided this was best, and as long as every one of the decision-making bodies gave their stamp of approval, we would find a way to manage it, and we would support it.”