I’ve never legit gotten to break a story before, but I just found out that some news I’ve known for 24 hours is now public: Princeton will have a gender-neutral housing option starting in this spring’s housing lottery for the 2010-11 school year.
The proposal, authored by student members of the Undergraduate Life Committee, with the help of yours truly, was approved by the ULC two weeks ago and then got a necessary second endorsement from the Council of Masters (of the six residential colleges) yesterday. It’s a pilot program which designates Spelman Hall, an apartment-style housing option for upperclass students (in which, significantly, every student gets their own bedroom), as gender-neutral. Instead of having to draw in groups of four students of the same gender, there will be no gender requirement on groups entering the Spelman draw. The ULC, the USG, the Housing office, and anyone else with a stake in the issue will be watching pretty closely to see how this plays out next year. Depending on interest, they may choose to expand gender-neutral housing to other upperclass dorms, or to keep it restricted to Spelman.
This is a big step forward for Princeton, which, until the ULC undertook this proposal, was the only university among the Ivy League and a set of other R1 universities that had never actively considered a gender-neutral housing proposal. While this pilot program may go on to affect relatively few people next year—particularly since it’s only an option for students eligible for the Spelman draw anyway—it’s a major change in university policy that brings Princeton quite dramatically and unequivocally into the 21st century. I can’t help gloating that it puts us ahead of Yale (which withdrew its pilot program last year to considerable undergraduate ire), and the fact that it happened with relatively little fanfare speaks very, very well for this university and its administration.
I’m extraordinarily proud that I can say I had a part in making this happen, however small. We all have to do what we can to make our communities places we can be proud of, and create circumstances that will be better for the next generation. Now we have to turn our attention to making sure the pilot program goes well next year, but I can’t resist taking at least a few days to bask in the warmth of having made real, discernible change to the policy of this place.
Even Princeton, folks. Even Princeton.