Goshen College, for the first time in its history, is offering gender inclusive housing.
Introduced by Student Senate in October, gender inclusive housing gives students the opportunity to live in the same environment regardless of their gender identity.
All throughout the past fall semester, Corie Steinke, director of student involvement, alongside members of Student Senate, resident assistants, and other staff members worked to propose a thoughtful, well-researched plan for what gender inclusive housing would look like at Goshen College.
According to Steinke, one of the inspirations for having gender inclusive housing was so LGBTQIA+ students would have a housing option where they would feel comfortable, safe and supported.
Ultimately, any student, regardless of gender identity, is able to apply for it.
In the process of developing the new housing proposal, Student Senate held open spaces for students to air out their thoughts and concerns, especially in regards to safety, location of housing and accessibility to it.
Taking this into consideration, Miller Residence Hall was settled as the best option for gender inclusive housing. In addition, Miller was chosen because there were no options for gender inclusive or co-ed housing in Kratz, Miller, and Yoder Residence Halls. Currently, Goshen College offers several options for co-ed living for upperclassmen, like those available in the Octavio Romero Apartments and intentional living communities, but none for underclassmen.
Access to the Miller floor that is gender inclusive is limited to students living there. Limited access to the living space has been enforced not to create a separation from other parts of campus life, but to ensure that students are and feel safe from gender and identity-based violence.
Steinke said, “We definitely wanted to keep students safe from harassment, safe from vandalism, safe from the general things that come up with a lot of the identity-based violence. I would rather be overly cautious and overly safe.”
Steinke has also been intentional about not naming the floor in Miller Residence Hall that is gender inclusive, as she is aware that some students may still be in the process of coming out or figuring out their own identity. So, Steinke in no way wanted to pressure students or out them unintentionally by giving a specific name to the gender inclusive housing option.
The goal with gender inclusive housing at Goshen College is to provide students with more transformative and innovative housing options that are supportive and accommodating to their needs.
Although gender inclusive housing is still in its pilot year, Steinke has worked hard to provide a new living space that is safe and private for students who choose to live there, while also allowing them to be engaged with the rest of the campus community.
“I think Goshen College does a really excellent job of being transformative in all senses of the word,” Steinke said. “If you’re willing to be a part of this community by being a Goshen College student, I think that you are going to find that transformative experience in housing, but you have to be willing to be part of the community,”
Steinke strongly believes Goshen College should be proud to offer gender inclusive housing and hopes to see it expand to other residence halls in the future, and is committed to the cause.
“I think it is a really neat option, I think it is something that is ultimately going to be really helpful in the long run, and I think it is going to be something that Goshen College should be really proud that they have,” said Steinke. “It’s a hill I’m going to die on because I will not let it go, it needs to be there.”